Sunday, July 8, 2012

Making Marriage Work

Our wedding day

Whither thou goest, I will go

Yesterday Mike and I are celebrated 22 years of marriage.  For our wedding, we choose the story of Ruth as our reading because I love meaning behind the story.  Being young and idealistic, the thought of two people being so devoted to each other was very touching.

To be completely truthful with you, that first year of marriage was incredibly tough.  Sometimes I look back and wonder how we made it through.  I think so many couples enter into marriage thinking that "love" will carry them through all the rough times.  Unfortunately it's not quite so easy as that.

Shortly before our wedding I heard an elderly gentleman on a talk show telling how he and his wife were able to be successfully married for 60 years.  He said "There have been times in our marriage when I didn't love my wife.  There have been times in our marriage when I know she didn't love me.  The trick is that you can't not love each other at the same time because the other one has to love enough for the both of you"

That sentiment has carried us through the years.  Marriage is hard, really hard.  There have been times along the way when it would have been easier to throw in the towel.  There have been many times when I didn't feel appreciated, when I didn't feel love, when I didn't feel cherished.  Times when I've looked at other couples with jealousy for of one reason or another.  I'm quite sure that there have been many times when Mike didn't feel appreciated, loved or cherished either.  Because quite frankly, there were times when I didn't appreciate or cherish him.

I'm so thankful that during those times the other one was able to love enough for the both of us.  That somehow we found the strength (or the stubbornness) not to give in during those hard times because I can honestly say that I'm married to my best friend.  

While I'm not going to profess to be a marriage expert and there are marriages that probably shouldn't continue (adultery and abuse are not acceptable), here are some of my thoughts on making a marriage work.

  • Remember that marriage is hard work.  You won't always love each but given time and attention the love can return.  It's a little like a campfire.  The fire may have died down but with a little bit of kindling and some attention it will come to life once again.  One of you just have to love enough for the both of you.
  • Marriages survive in spite of children.  When women have children all their time and energy goes into the children while the men feel like cast off toys.  Guess what, men need lots of attention too.  Yes, I know that taking care of the house and family is hard work and sometimes feeling sexy is that last thing on our minds.  Husbands need to learn early on that their is nothing hotter than a guy who does housework and laundry.  The rewards can be significant :)  Children do grow up, make sure that you put your marriage in front of the kids so that when they're gone you have a solid foundation to move forward on.
  • Be playful.  Guys are like toys, they need to be taken out and played with.  Sometimes we need to do things we don't enjoy.  I've heard guys complain that their wives won't do fun things with them.  They don't want to go for motorcycle rides because it will mess up their hair.  They don't want to go Frisbee golfing because .......Fill in the blank:  it's hot, I'm not good at it, it's boring, etc.  While Mike and I do have our own separate hobbies, we do make time to do things the other person likes.  Mike will go clothes shopping and to craft shows with me while I Frisbee golf and go for motorcycle rides with him.  Spending time having fun and playing is important in a marriage.
  • The grass isn't greener on the other side, you just need to adjust your mower.  When you're feeling unappreciated and your mates idiosyncrasies are getting to you, the idea of a new relationship may be appealing.  Guess what?  Everyone has idiosyncrasies and over time the sheen wears off of all relationships.

Here we are, 22 years later enjoying the beaches of San Juan.

So, what did we do for our anniversary?  We planned to go to an art gallery exhibit and then out for a steak dinner so I wore white pants with a white shirt and high heels.  We actually went for a motorcycle ride around the lake with a stop for fried pickles, mozzarella sticks and breaded mushrooms!  My outfit didn't quite match the evening but we had a great time.

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  1. Your post was great, my husband and I have been married for 33 years and you could not have said my feelings better. Congrats on your 22 years and I hope you have many more.........

    1. Thank you - I hope we have many more too :)