The other day my husband and I were talking about our marriage and how happy we are together. Then we somehow started talking about our friends and how some of their marriages and relationships didn’t work out. It was sad to see some of them go through painful divorces or experience great disappointments in people who were considered their second halves just a while back.
It’s not a secret that rates of divorces are rising like crazy all over the world now (in the United States 50% of all marriages end in divorce and in Ukraine the rates are just a little bit lower). I am not going to go into the details of why it is happening but I would like to share my experience of a happy and balanced marriage. I hope that maybe these tips will help some couples to live happily ever after.
- Be honest with each other. I think marriage and any serious relationship starts with honesty.
My husband is a scuba diver and he has a few scuba buddies. If you do not know much about diving then I want to share one secret: it is EXTREMELY expensive (you need at least $3000 on average to get your own gear and as you become better at it you will want more expensive and more professional equipment). For the reason that I cannot figure out scuba diving is a real addiction for men and they cannot stop buying new equipment no matter how much they have already (my husband is past that point thankfully :-)) Back to the scuba buddies, these guys are married and they hide their new equipment from their wives. Every time they buy something new they try to sneak around and get it delivered when their wives are not home, then they hide it real good to make sure that their wives do not know how much they’ve just spent (my husband has never done anything like this, phew!). One of these guys has just divorced and now they are fighting over the custody of the children. I can’t imagine living with a person who is not honest with me, neither does my husband and I do not have much hope in marriages that are based on lies and sneaking around.
- Do not only say “I love you,” show it.
My parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. I remember my dad always talking a lot about how much he loved my mom and me but he never showed it. He never helped my mom around the house, he never helped her financially to raise me after the divorce, and he never tried hard enough to be a good husband and a good dad.
It is important to show your partner your love. It can be support in a difficult situation, help around the house or with the kids, a romantic night out or a timely hug when you are feeling blue.
- In a relationship you are a team and not two solo players. When you are married you lose some of your “I” and turn it into “We.” Marriage is like a football game (without getting slammed though :-)). A person who does not know the rules will look at the field and see a bunch of big guys running around, jumping on each other and acting completely irrational. A person who knows the rules will see a strategy behind every move. Each player has his own role on the field and each of the players is responsible for the final score. In a marriage it is important to have your own life and your own interests, however happy couples know that all these interests are worthless if they do not benefit their team. There is a great movie called Facing the Giants that continues this analogy (this is a Christian movie). Another one of my favorites is Fireproof and I think that all couples need to watch it because it is a wonderful and inspiring movie.
- Keep romance burning in your relationship. There is nothing worse than a boring and unromantic relationship. When women start wearing hair rollers and shower caps around the house and when men spend all their time on the coach with a bottle of beer in their hands you can say that this relationship is doomed. Here are 10 ways to turn a boring relationship into a party of love and I am sure that you can think of at least 100 more.
- Be best friends. A marriage based only on friendship is hardly possible, but a marriage without friendship is doomed. What do friends do? They talk, they share their most intimate thoughts, they share their joys and sorrows, they have fun together, and they help and support each other. Can you imagine a marriage without all this? I can’t.
- Let little things slide. This tip is mostly meant for women because a lot of us (women) go crazy about little things like dirty socks around the house, a glass that was left in the wrong place or the wrong type of produce that he picked up at the grocery store. Men can think only about one thing at a time (these are words of my husband, no offense guys). When they think about a nice bottle of wine that they want to bring home for supper they forget whether you wanted Romaine lettuce or spinach. When they think about a football game they forget where they leave their glass and when they are ready to cuddle up with you under a blanket they forget where they threw their socks. Look at the big picture and enjoy a deep relationship and bond with your partner, after all nobody is perfect.
- Talk. When I say “talk” I do not mean just talking about what refrigerator you have to buy or what happened at work during the day. I mean talking about everything: about friends, about news, about your interests, about your concerns and about 100 more subjects. My husband and I lose track of time when we start talking to each other and I love this time more than anything else in the world (well, almost anything ;-)). Talking will help you understand what is going on in the head of your spouse, what bothers him/her, it will help you to resolve and prevent conflicts and misunderstandings if they arise (the worst thing is to keep a grudge inside and let it destroy your marriage).
- Be silent. Sounds contradictory to what I’ve just said, right? If you and your partner argue (it happens to the best of us) then you are likely to say something that you do not really mean. When we are upset we tend to pick the most stinging words that can hurt your partner’s trust and faith in you permanently. I find that it is much better to be silent in these situations and to let both of us cool down a little bit. After the smoke has cleared and you can think rationally again you can talk the whole situation over and most likely you will find an easy solution or explanation that will satisfy both of you.
- Be equally responsible for the family and household. This is a tip for men. A lot of men mention that marriage kills romance and that their wives become less interested in sex and fun activities that they used to enjoy before. This is really true because a lot of women get so tied up in household problems and bringing up children (not mentioning the fact that a lot of women are also working at the same time) that they do not have any energy left for anything else.
Most men still think that a woman is a 100% responsible for bringing up children and taking care of the household. How many men change about half the amount of diapers that women do? How much time do men spend with the children when the kids are in a bad mood? How often do men think about what to fix for supper or when to vacuum the house? If you are one of the men who does it all or is willing to do it all then your wife is (will be) a very happy woman (my husband is all I’ve just mentioned and even more :-)). How would you expect a woman to think about a romantic night when she has been changing dirty diapers all day long and her personal time was limited to 5 minutes in the shower? A marriage puts a lot of responsibilities on both a man and a woman and if you want a happy and sexy wife then you need to give her some help and some free time.
- Smile and laugh together. According to a recent study people who smile a lot have lower rates of divorce. Researchers are not quite sure about the connection between smiling and happy marriages but having great time together and laughing a lot will help you become more positive about your relationship and life in general.
Here are 5 more rules that do not need any explanation in my opinion.
- Love each other
- Respect each other
- Support each other
- Understand each other
- Give to each other
A balanced and happy marriage is not a dream, it is a reality for me. I wish that more people could enjoy relationships that were satisfying and long-lasting at the same time. Do you have anything to add to this list? I am looking forward to your feedback.
Keep it balanced!