I was thinking yesterday that I should write a post without mentioning my husband or my grown children. And someday, I probably will. But it is not going to be today.
One of my son’s best friends got married this weekend. As part of their celebration, the bride and groom asked their guests to submit their 5 best tips for a long and happy marriage. My son, still being single, still in the getting-to-know-you/falling-in-love-daily phase of his relationship with K, asked me to do this for him. I would get full credit for my submission, which was both flattering and terrifying. He only had to remind me twice that he needed this before the deadline (September 30). Now that the wedding is over, I can share with you what I wrote.
- Think of something you love about your spouse every single day. Do not let go, lose sight, or take for granted that you will always feel the way you do right now. People grow and change. Be mindful of one another, that you are two individuals choosing to be in love and to stay married.
- For every annoying, negative habit your spouse possesses that irritates and drives you nuts, think of at least 5 other habits and traits you love about him/her.
- Every word spoken in anger is remembered far longer than words and expressions of love. When you argue, agree to a timeout when if the angry, negative emotions start to overwhelm, because once spoken, they will live in infamy. Apologize, and mean it. Forgive, and mean it. Fight fairly.
- Maintain the relationship with your spouse as the highest priority. If and when you have children, remember they are priority for both of you, but taking care of and loving each other is critical. Someday those helpless, innocent babies will grow up into independent adults who will leave and establish homes and families of their own. When that happens you will still have each other, and it is as it should be.
- Trust and believe in each other, and talk and listen as well. There are occasions when it is appropriate to seek advice and counsel from sources outside your spouse. But your closest confidant and most trusted advisor should always be the one you chose to share a home and a life with; ensure you do not undermine your spouse’s opinions and ideas when working through life’s complexities.
It is hard to condense a lifetime of mistakes and successes into a few sentences. These are all things I learned from the failure in my first marriage through the success of my union with M. I allow that what works for us may not work for everyone and that there are some marriages that are rookie mistakes from the get go.
My parents were married for 47 years and only ended when my father died. From my view I always wondered why they stayed together or whether they were really in love at one time. I think, though, that marriage looks and feels a little different for every couple. I just knew I did not want to be married like my folks were married, and I was not the first time and definitely not this second time. I am not more correct or better than they were; I have what is correct and best for me. And M … he is happy to be married to me, and I know this because he tells me so often.