Happily ever after is complicated. Happy weddings are a dime a dozen, however, happy marriages are much more rare and therefore more precious than gold.
It’s important to think to the future, say, 50 years down the road and wonder if the person you have chosen – with things sagging and the wrinkles more predominant, etc., etc., – is this someone you will still be excited to be with and love? Or will you say to yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”
I have performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies and often I wonder what things will be like for them. It’s exciting to plan for your wedding together, but how many couples really know what they are getting into?
You stand hand-in-hand at your wedding with the excitement of the moment, smiling radiantly, facing your guests as you walk out into the world together and into a completely different commitment; one that has you promise to work together, come what may and no matter what. And suddenly the world has somehow shifted. All at once everything looks different and it is. You both get that marriage is not a back up plan to diminish your loneliness.
Marriage is something most people go into completely unaware of what they are in for. Hmmm. Kinda like life. Some couples – who experience the deep love that is necessary for marriage to thrive – make it. Some give up when they’ve been together for a while because they lose the excitement that was present on their wedding day.
You are not suppose to stop working on your relationship once you get married! They think that it will last. AND it can… and it takes lots of work, and it’s different. And I’m not sure most couples grasp how much things will change. (Especially after the kids show up.) Is “together forever” in the cards? Or is your marriage founded on the fantasy of forever together and based on an illusion of how you think it should be?
I heard a bride whose ceremony I performed several years ago say, “If you can survive the stresses of a wedding, you can survive anything… marriage should be a snap!” Then she laughed and admitted to me that there have been many ups and downs. She told me that one thing she learned from her mother was when issues surfaced it is important to never let too much time go by before you talk about how to make it all better. I agree. Never let issues marinate in your anger and disappointment. That is a recipe for disaster.
Marriage isn’t always a snap. It depends on the couple. Have they equally considered the benefits? Have they seriously considered the consequences of marriage. Their actions and decisions in their marriage are like that. They all have consequences.
It’s easy to make a wedding happy. You just throw a ton of money and liquor at it. A happy marriage is more difficult to make happy because if you throw a lot of money and liquor at it, it often makes things much worse.
I’m thinking that couples don’t often talk about the things that matter in a marriage. When you don’t talk, you can lose that awesome connection you had when you were first together.
So… when your togetherness doesn’t feel like the excitement you experienced on your wedding day, what can you do?
There is a line in my wedding ceremony that says, “Never stop doing the things that brought you together in the first place!” Can you remember how to have fun together?
Part of the solution is to rewind to the good times. Stop and think about the things you did that attracted you to each other. Remember that “feeling?” You can experience that feeling again and regain the closeness that connected you emotionally. And you both need to accept responsibility for what happens next.
How often do you tell each other how much you really care? Do you go to sleep at the same time? Research shows that 94% of couples that snuggle in bed say they are happier together. Do you work together to get things done around the house? Nowhere is it written that housework is the woman’s job! Do you kiss often or is that something you think only newlyweds do? How often do you say, “I love you,” (out loud) to each other. Do you still light candles, put on some romantic music and have a quiet evening together? That can often bring back those loving feelings.
Do you still have weekly dates and have FUN together? Do you share your feelings with one another? Do you listen – really listen – to your partner? Do you show appreciation and give your partner praise? Do you treat your spouse with respect and kindness” Do you often hear, “Not tonight, I’m too tired,” or “I have a headache?” Resolve: No more fake headaches. I seriously doubt that you used that lame excuse when you were first together. Maybe you need a little late night “wake me up,” if you know what I mean. These behaviors have natural consequences.
“Just as weeding and watering is essential to a healthy garden, taking time to communicate and listen to your partner is critical if you want your relationship to thrive.” ~ Sara Eckel
Being married has advantages. For well over a century, researchers have known that married people are generally better off than their unmarried counterparts. As early as 1897, sociologist Emile Durkheim was theorizing about why married adults have lower suicide rates than unmarried adults. In a recent survey David Ribar notes that links between marriage and better health in children and adults “have been documented in hundreds of quantitative studies covering different time periods and different countries.”
AND to have a happy and successful marriage takes work! Lots of working together. Lots of work! Are you both on the same page? Are you putting forth the effort to make your partnership really work? How would your life together be different if you did?
That might be a great topic for conversation sometime soon!
BONUS Articles: The Secret to Staying in Love
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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