"A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences" - Dave Meurer
The excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon is over; it is now time to get down to the nitty-gritty of married life. If you are equipped with the right tools at this stage to handle the expectations, disappointments and responsibilities of living with a person who you discover is not always the doting partner, then you are well on the road to making it last the long mile! Those who have had a successful marriage seem to follow a few rules. Let's see what they are:
Most of us enter matrimony with a rosy ‘happily ever after' label which is amply fed by hoopla from media and movies. Unrealistic expectations are one of the major reasons for marriages to fail. We expect our partner to meet all our needs - from taking care of us, raising our children, helping us in our career and housework, being caring and considerate - in fact, being the perfect mate! Small wonder that most fail at this impossible task!
Very often when our partner does not live up to our expectations we tend to throw in the towel and call it quits. Instead of expecting perfection, remember that your spouse is as human as you. So make allowances for human frailties and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Make plans to stick it out through the tough times and be there for the long haul. Going into a marriage with an exit policy is never a great idea. If you are committed to your partner and the relationship, you will always find a solution to the problems that are inevitable between two people living together. A rough patch is not the end of the road for a relationship. There will be highs and lows like in everything else about life. Just ride the storm and soon the shore will be in sight; you just need some patience and endurance.
Why do we expect our partner to fit into our framework of what a spouse should be like? When two siblings brought up with similar upbringing by the same parents are so different, why do we expect two people brought up in different families to be alike?
Learning to embrace our differences instead of trying to change the other will go a long way in creating a great marriage. Trying to change the other person instead of accepting them as they are is a folly. After all, you loved and married them for who they are, so why would you want to change them after marriage?
Preserve your own identity
The key to a successful marriage is to make sure that you are independent and maintain your own friendships apart from those of your spouse. If you don't share similar hobbies or interests then allow each other space to pursue the things that they enjoy. Learn to appreciate each other's interests. Try not to rely entirely on your partner for your validation and well-being. Nurture your own friendships while allowing the same latitude to your spouse. It is important for both of you not to lose your own identity and to be yourself.
Listening to each other's emotions is the key to building a healthy communication pattern between partners. Try to understand what your partner is feeling and saying. It is not a good idea to have an argument when you are tired or feeling very emotional. Sometimes it is better to take time out, reflect and then resolve issues instead of jumping headlong into a fight. Use ‘I' statements instead of accusatory ‘you' statements. After all, both of you are on the same side! There are no winners or losers here.
While the daily chores of who will cook dinner, help children with homework or do laundry might seem very prosaic and unimportant, be assured that these very things will lead to battles royale! Distribute labour equally so that there are no resentments and work out an equitable schedule of chores.
Talk about parenting styles before you have children, for each of you have been brought up in different ways and you may not exactly agree on all things when it comes to bringing up your own child. We all have our own ideas of values, beliefs and traditions, so you and your partner have to arrive at some sort of understanding before the actual task of parenting begins.
Marriage is a work in progress. There is always something to work on and there is no place for complacency. We live with a person who sometimes drives us crazy and leave us wondering as to why we stick on with this person! But we are not always a breeze to live with, are we? Marriage is all about trust, connection, love, acceptance and being committed. It is hard work but is worth it at the end. So yes, there is a roadmap for a good marriage but do go ahead and make your own formula together, in order to make your marriage last the long haul with the right proportion of romance and reality!