So we’ve found our mate and promised to love each other all the days of our lives, ushering in the “live happily ever after” part of the story. But it’s not just about the fairy tale. Marriage, like all worthy endeavors, requires sacrifice. Sharing our most intimate selves, living spaces, goals and dreams, involves a hefty commitment. Inevitably, there will be disagreements, difficult compromises, and new responsibilities with each party making mistakes that hurt the other. Cultivating a lasting, loving relationship will take years and will forever be changing. There will be good days and bad days — however, it’s the bad days that really strengthen the bond of marriage, proving to ourselves and our partner that our relationship is worth the work.
1. Compromise is King
When two independent people make the intimate journey required by marriage, there are bound to be mishaps along the way. Interests, habits, lifestyles, comfort zones, sense of humor, etc. all play a part in the grand scheme of compromise necessary to a successful marriage. It’s not just us in our lives anymore, a dynamic we must respect and consider with every important decision we make. As a team, we must work on recognizing that it’s not about always being “right” but about finding a solution that benefits the relationship.
2. Change What You Can, Yourself
The inescapable truth is that no one will ever be 100% of what we are looking for in a mate. When we choose our partner, it is because we have found someone who fits much of what we want and we consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten so close to perfection. But then, in some part of our minds, we think perhaps he/she will change or that perhaps we can help our partner to alter those few things about them that we wish were different. This is most assuredly not going to happen, and the sooner we realize this, the less time and energy we’ll waste. As mature adults we have well defined personalities that rarely change much. All we can do is alter how we react to our significant other, along with how we see things, thus appreciating our loved one and accepting him or her, imperfections and all.
3. Don’t Lose Yourself
When we choose that one person to be with, we can easily feel like that we must share everything with them, and spend most of our time together. While this may seem hopelessly romantic, it is not practical. As individuals, it is important to cherish our individuality and to foster relationships and interests outside of our marriage. That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy many experiences with our mate, but that we keep a healthy balance between our relationship and our lives outside of our marriage.
4. Healthy Marriages Are Based on Two Whole People
We’ve all seen in the movie Jerry McGuire where our hero confesses his feeling towards his girlfriend with a heartfelt expression and sentence, “You complete me.” Many females in the audience sighed at that sentiment the day I went to see that movie. The reality, though, is that we need to be complete in ourselves before we join our lives with another if we want any chance for the marriage to succeed. A couple should complement one another, not complete one another, accenting and enhancing each other’s lives. Great marriages are created by constant work and devotion towards improving the relationship, as individuals as well as a pair, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses that make up that special relationship.
5. Your Happiness Must Reside in YOU
Finding happiness in our lives must always come from within and not be reliant on outside sources, and this includes our partner. If we are not being true to ourselves or progressing positively in our lives, we can quickly become unhappy. It is easier to look outside ourselves to explain our unhappiness, or to find a solution to ease our personal discontent. Often, our partners are the first thing we latch on to. After all, they are there to support us in our times of need, right? In this case, wrong. It is up to us to search deep within ourselves to find the goal, lifestyle, and inner strength that creates our happiness, just as it is up to our partners to do the same for themselves.