Have you noticed how inexpensive it can be to get married, but how expensive it really is to get divorced? It would almost make a person think that marriage was a trap to make money. In a sense it is. No one gets married thinking that they will soon be paying for a divorce. So why is it that so many people are? To be honest no one knows. Yes, there are a lot of marriage counselors out there that believe they have the answer to fix marriages. This comes with a small fee, of course. The truth is the general population does not know what makes a marriage work. Neither do I.
I’ve been married to my lovely wife since 1996. Very few people at our wedding believed that we would last as long as we have. So, what did work? Why did we last while others did not? For starters Flo (my wife) was a first child. I was too. We both grew up fast raising our siblings. A lot more responsibility was given to us, than to our siblings. We both understood the reality of life. We knew that things weren’t going to be easy and that was OK as long as we had each other.
I married my best friend. This foundation of friendship allowed us to understand each other from the start. Before we got married we dated on for two years. We were good friends before that. After we got married we made basic house rules. First rule: no yelling. If we could not discuss our problems in a civil tone we would excuse ourselves and calm down until we could talk. The second part to that was the other person could not follow while the other was trying to collect themselves. Following the other person into the other room would only drive the conflict further and escalate the conversation. Believe me when I say that we both did our share of walking, but we always came back. Often times, on these walks, I would sort my thoughts out, and by the time I got back to the house I actually was thinking rationally and could carry a descent conversation. Rule number two: Both sides could be right, as well as both sides could be wrong. For example, an apple can be red or green or even yellow. We also took the time to listen to each other. This was very important because both of us had a lot to say. Another rule we had was we were not in competition with each other. We worked together on everything.
Flo and I did just want to be together, we want to grow together. We supported each other like two trees that get together and start pulling each other together to form one tree. I tell Flo that I love her at least 25 times a day. Some days, I swear, I’m closer to 100 times a day. Why? Because I want her to know without a doubt that she is loved. I do not rely on the simple adage “I don’t need to tell her, she already knows.” I want to tell her so many times that she hears it in her sleep, “I love you”.
She and I were not blessed with children. Children put a whole new level to the word “stress”. They are demanding, expensive, and hungry. They demand a lot of attention. With me being in the military, not have children is a blessing. I moved around a lot as a child. I hated it. I would make friends and soon we were moving and I had to start the process all over again. This is not the life I would want for a child. So by not having children Flo and I have skipped the whole “We don’t have money because we spent it on the child or children.” We also skipped the “I’ve been with the children all day. I need a break.” Yep, nothing says proud parent like a quick baby hand-off. This statement is in no way meant to discredit parents. If anything else it demonstrates the sacrifice that they go through to raise their children.
Flo and I have learn a lot from each other. I have learned to be more sensitive towards others needs, and she has learned to be more assertive in telling people what she wants. Neither one of us are really in control. As stated with the trees, we support each other. She stands beside me, not behind me, or in front of me. That’s how this great marriage works. . Every day was not filled with sunshine and rainbows. But we stuck the storm out and we held onto each other. We both have changed over the years. I am not the same person she married and she is not the same person that I married. It’s all a part of growing up and growing together.
Communication is important, but so is listening. If two people are talking to each other at the same time, who is listening? Someone has to take the time to listen. We share secrets, dreams, and life expectations. We share each others fear, and we comfort each others fear. Listening affords us the opportunity to find out what gifts to buy each other. Trust me on this one. The longer you spend with someone the more you’ll want to listen to them in order to know what gifts they want.
And the last bit of advice that I can give, is live within your budget. If you can only afford PB and J for lunch, guess what you are having for lunch. Learn to be happy with what you have. If you cannot appreciate what you have, you will not appreciate what you have when you have more of it. This is an odd fact of life but it’s true.
So there you have it. The secret to a happy marriage. I know some out there may be stating that you have heard this a thousand time. But until you put it into practice and you spend the time living these words that is all they will be: words. Life is easy, it’s people that make it hard. Keep you life simple, and you will be rewarded for it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Take care and God bless.