People who defer to the failure of celebrity marriages or idyllic, quixotic appearances of the successful ones are usually setting themselves up for failure. Personally, I wasn’t raised to put stock into people I don’t know personally and never even met; especially when it comes to the maintenance of healthy love.
When I asked my dad one day how did he know my mother was the one, his answer was so simple. He told me “I knew that I’d always wonder what that girl’s name was with the dimple in her chin.” It sounds sappy. But when I was mature enough, I understand what he meant.
A man’s love is very easy. Our love often manifests itself in actions or nuanced body language. A guy will only get married once he’s found the perfect complement to his imperfections. For guys, we look in the eyes of that woman and we know that we love her. We respect her. We’ll go to bat for her. We want to be the best for her. Women, on the other hand, get married for a myriad of other surface reasons. It’s not always about unconditional love as they’re brought up to seek out. Sadly, there are many instances where, for both sexes, the marriage is contingent upon the egoic love; which is incapable of selflessness and empathy. Inevitably, you wind being a spectator in your own marital home. The day will come when you stare at the person that shares your last name as if you’d never met them before.
My father taught me a few invaluable lessons that I’ve tried to consciously keep in the front of my mind when it comes to conversation of marriage.
* Not everything is worth an argument or debate. It’s okay to cave on ocassion – While disagreements and differing opinions keep things exciting and unpredictable, some newly married couples struggle to establish a pattern of reacting vs. retreating. Compromise and communication are tantamount in everybody being happy. So there will times when you just have to swallow your pride and accept that keeping a peaceful household is more important than being right.
* Make sure you always water the grass to survive the droughts – Being a spouse is one of the hardest hats a person can wear. Unlike being a parent or an employee, the words of gratitude and appreciation aren’t always plentiful. When tough times arrive (and they will), you should have enough great memories in reserve to get you through.
* She usually just needs your ear, not your advice – Guys are problem solvers by nature. When something’s broken, we fix it. When there’s an issue, we stand back and see what’s the most effective and easiest resolution. But when you’re married, chances are every day there will be something bothering your wife. 75% of the time, there is no solution because she doesn’t want you to solve anything. If you listen long enough and acknowledge her duress, the problem will go away on its own.
* Always have a date night planned and don’t be scared of affection – For as long as I could remember, my parents went out every Sunday afternoon. Where? I have no idea. But we came to know that after church was moms and pops time. Once a married couple become parents, they often forget the attraction and instant chemistry that initially brought them together. Marriage doesn’t mean your libido is dead.
* Don’t be a guest in your own house – I’ve always said I would never move into my wife’s house. I don’t think a couple can truly have a fresh start when one spouse has to move into the other’s already-acquired home. While guys don’t give a shit about wall paper and furniture swatches, your home should be a live exhibit of who you are as a couple.
The self-help section of any bookstore is littered with books with cookie-cutter advice and statistical studies that will have you paranoid over nothing. Like anything else, marriage is a journey that you both have to choose to be on #atthesamedamntime. When the choice is independent of extraneous factors, the journey will be much more fruitful.
What’s the best marital advice you’ve ever received? Do you believe in studying other couples as the barometer to your relationship’s success?