I will be attending a wedding next week and so my son suggested that I write about marriage today. Now, I don’t make it a habit of giving unsolicited advice, especially when it relates to personal relationships. So, today I am going against the grain. I hope you will indulge me and that you will find what I have to say insightful. First, let me state this clearly. I am not claiming to be a relationship expert. That being said, my hope is that these 5 tips will help you have a more successful union.
- Take your time to get to know people before you rush into marriage. People reveal to you the parts of themselves that they want you to see. In the beginning, everyone is wearing a mask, so you need to give them enough time to remove it. Over time, you will see the real person behind the mask. Note the red flags and do not ignore them!
- Marry someone you can talk to. I heard this advice years ago and I totally agree. Why? When you can no longer engage in physical intimacy, what you will have left in your marriage will be conversation. If you are unable to have conversations then you will have nothing left. I would also recommend that you marry someone who you can laugh with often. As they say, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and when times are tough, that ability to laugh together will go a long way. My advice to my kids is “marry someone who is your friend”. Personally, I think this is the best recipe for a successful marriage.
- Take the time to attend pre-marital counselling. It is a valuable exercise. The counsellor will help you to consider some questions that you may not have discussed. This exercise will help you to see if you really want to be married to each other or if you may be better off apart. I will never forget our pre-marital counsellor telling my husband and me that we should bring to mind all the things about each other that annoyed us most. We asked why. He explained that we needed to understand that those irritating habits would become worse over time and in getting married we were signing up to deal with them for life. So, we needed to love each other in spite of these annoyances, rather than because of the good things. Sage advice!
- I can’t stress this next point enough. The wedding is just one day, but your marriage is intended to be for life. So, while I know all the work that planning a wedding can be, please do not lose sight of what really matters. If you don’t have the money to have your dream wedding, don’t let that be why you postpone getting married if you really want to. You can always have the big celebration later. Your marriage is way more than your wedding day.
- When you are having issues in your marriage, be very selective about the people you seek advice from. If you can work it out without any external intervention that is best. Involving others should be a last resort. Instead, lean in and communicate. Listen and share without judgement. Remember, this is your life partner, so your aim should be to find a mutually acceptable resolution to whatever the issue is. You are both on the same team. So, don’t treat each other like public enemy number one.
A successful marriage takes commitment and work! It is not enough to want to have a good marriage, that alone will do very little to make it so. You both have to put in the work. Every day. You both have to be intentional about it and you have to find a way to work through the difficulties. It takes two, 100% of the time. Celebrate the highs and work through the lows. It will be worth it in the end.