Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Make a Marriage Last

By no means am I a marriage expert, but I've learned a few things since Ryan and I began life as a married couple nearly four and a half years ago.  

The biggest lesson for me about marriage: 
Don't sweat the small stuff, and pick your battles.  
This is a hard one for me, as I like to have the last word and have things just my way... 
But those things are not as important to me as happiness in my marriage, so I've learned to let the little things go, which I think is important.

On our wedding day we asked friends and family to share their advice to us as newlyweds.  Some of my favorite responses:
-Laugh a lot, love a lot, and lower your expectations.
-Tough times usually come--the perfect time to hold each other closer.
-Love is a verb, so do it.  It doesn't just happen.
(And my personal favorite:)
-Ryan, she is always right!!  Just nod your head and say, "Yes dear.'  Trust me on this one!

That brings me to this article my mom saved for me awhile back where couples who had been married for an extended period of time shared their own marriage advice.

How To Make a Marriage Last

  1. Work hard. People who stay married for a long time make a conscious effort at working at their relationships. They place their commitment to each other as a higher priority than work, hobbies and even their children. They know that the best way to be a great parent is to be in a loving and long-lasting relationship.
  2. Talk about things that matter. It’s so easy to waste time talking about routine matters of work, family or chores. Happy couples talk about their dreams, fears, hopes and fantasies. They share very private and personal feelings and thus stay emotionally engaged with their partner. With a psychological security based on trust and communication, these couples can truly be themselves and experience that amazing feeling of being safe and accepted in another’s presence.
  3. Be nice. We all want to feel special, particularly from our lifelong partner. The experts have found that little things mean a lot in a relationship. Simple things such a genuine compliment, a thoughtful surprise and special attention during tough times really matter. They reflect a caring and concern that mean a lot more than flowers once a year.
  4. Celebrate life. A colleague of mine left work early to take her husband out for dinner to celebrate his recent positive evaluation at work. I voiced some surprise at making such a big deal over such a routine event. My friend gently advised me that their family constantly searches out opportunities to notice and enjoy events that others may view as routine. Successful partners enjoy each other, and they actively look for ways to have fun. They are attentive to the small accomplishments of their partners.
  5. Argue gently. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. Arguments about making, saving and spending money are the number one sources of tension between partners. Good couples don’t ignore such problems, but deal with them in a respectful way with lots of compromise and communication. They avoid bringing up past hurts but focus on coming up with acceptable solutions for both partners.
  6. Fight boredom. So much of how we live our lives is due to routine and habit. After a while, it is natural to get bored by your partner and seek excitement elsewhere. Committed couples avoid that malaise by taking risks and trying new activities. This adds a vitality and excitement to your relationship and makes it more enjoyable to be around your partner.

Food for thought as many of us resolve to be better in 2014.  
My marriage and relationships are a high priority this year.  The older I get the more I continue to realize it's the people in our lives who matter most.
And also, I will continue to pick my battles and remember not to sweat the small stuff.

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