I am getting married in the fall and wonder what the single most important thing is that I can do to make this marriage work, unlike the majority of people I know whose relationships have ended in divorce?
Bride to Be
Dear Bride to Be:
What a great question! If we were to ask this question of every successful couple we might get quite a variety of very different answers. I’m not sure I can limit my response to just one idea, so perhaps instead I will touch on 4 concepts you can practice in working towards a successful marriage.
1. Make your needs known – Odds are you aren’t marrying the Amazing Kreskin, so make sure your partner knows what truly makes you happy. Do you need a clean, organized house? Do you require substantial time to plan and consider options before making decisions? Do you want children? Do you want to live in the country or do you yearn for the busyness of a city? Even though your partner loves you, he/she will not be able to guess correctly on your wants and needs and putting them in a position in which they have to guess might lead to a great deal of frustration for the both of you.
2. Have your partner’s back – It’s important to feel you are a team. Although it’s fine to have different opinions on issues, when situations arise and you find yourself challenged by other people or by systems, it’s imperative to know that your partner will back you up. So if you have just spoken up to the drycleaner about a pair of pants that was ruined, you want your partner there to support you, not minimize your experience or make excuses for them in front of you. That goes for every joint effort like supporting each other with birth plans, homebuilding, decorating, parent-teacher interviews, disciplining children and so on. Remember the old adage – united we stand, divided we fall.
3. Make time to give your partner undivided attention – In this busy world it’s important to feel like our partner will make time for us. It’s essential to know that he/she will deliberately avoid interruption and give us all of their precious attention for at least a solid block of time each day. There is nothing more dismissive than to be talking to that special someone when his/her attention is constantly diverted by texts, phone calls and television. Being mindful of spending quality time with your loved one is especially important.
4. Be honest – The world is complicated enough without making things more difficult by being misleading or lying to your partner. It seems like a simple request, but sometimes the fear of rejection can lead us to bend the truth. It might seem like a small fib or omission of detail at the time, but when the truth is later revealed it can lead to a very hurtful and challenging situation which could have been avoided altogether by just being upfront and telling the truth. Practice being honest with both yourself and your partner.
Best of luck in your marriage and remember to schedule in a lot of fun and laughter together!
“What makes a happy marriage? It is a question which all men and women ask one another…The answer is to be found, I think, in the mutual discovery, by two who marry, of the deepest need of the other’s personality, and the satisfaction of that need.” Pearl Buck from the Harville Hendrix book, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples.