Secrets to a Happy Marriage
There are times when I have something to share that doesn’t quite fit into the edible perimeters of a recipe post. Things I’m thinking about pertaining to life, family, struggles… Things you might be thinking about as well.
So today I’m introducing a new segment on A Spicy Perspective, GIRL TALK.
May 3, 1999
Men… Wonderful wonderful men, don’t shy away from such posts. (Well, you can if you want to.) If there’s a lady in your life, these little insights into the intricate web of a woman’s mind, might shed some light.
Maybe. No promises.
So we’re starting our first GIRL TALK today by discussing the end-all of girlie topics, relationships.
May 3, 1999
Lt. Dan and I just celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary.
See that ravishing couple above?
That was us a long long time ago, before life, genes, and children beat us down a bit. I’ve been married to my best friend for 15 years, and have known him for 20. More than half my life. (I feel really old when I say that.)
Dan and I have been happy throughout our marriage. We love, and generally like, each other… Except for the rare occasions when an epic verbal brawl breaks out, which happens less than once a year and always under a full moon. No lie.
We call those Dark Days in the Collier House.
We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, as any couple does. Yet we’ve stood by each other through tough times, and have always come out stronger after each trial.
So humor me today by letting me share a few things I’ve learned about relationships over the years. Maybe what I have to say is nothing new to you… but just maybe, there’s something here that might speak to you.
Most recent instagram shot for us.
You don’t fall in love, you choose to love. On the flip side, you don’t fall out of love, you decide not to love someone anymore.
The idea of falling in love or love at first sight is the complete opposite of real love. It’s infatuation and physical attraction. Nothing more.
Real love is a decision you make day after day, after ragged day. It’s choosing to stick by someone when they have shown they’re less than perfect. It’s choosing to see that person for who they really are, and who they will continue to become, not for what they look like now, or what we hope they’ll look like in the future.
Real love loves when a spouse wakes up in the morning with crusty eyes, bed head, and way more wrinkles than you remembered seeing yesterday.
Real love is deciding that even when that person fails you, you will be there. You will forgive.
Real love fights against all our self-protective (and often selfish) tendencies. Real love is a personal sacrifice you make on a daily basis.
Real love is HARD and not often glamorous… Yet there is nothing on earth with a greater reward.
If your family and friends hate your date, get the heck out of that relationship. A little pre-marriage advice here… I’ve yet to meet a person in a lasting relationship, that married someone their family disliked or distrusted.
It VERY rarely happens, friend. The exceptions are so rare, it’s not wise to think your relationship is one of them. (Sorry for the tough love.)
You know that infatuation I mentioned above? It’s blinding. All you see are the eyes, the lips, the muscles (or T and A, guys.) All you hear is the sexy laugh and the tantalizing stories.
You can’t see the true colors of that person, because you are lost in woozy infatuation.
We have watched friend after friend fall into the trap of defending their date against warnings from loved-ones, to the point of creating division in their family, only to suffer serious heart-break and humiliation down the road.
If your family and closest friends have a long record of steering you in the right direction, listen to them. Trust the people that have loved you your entire life… They are greatly invested in your happiness and future.
We often know what we want, but not what we need. Most of us feel we have a certain”type” of person we’re attracted to or belong with. However, I’ve noticed most people in a happy healthy relationship aren’t necessarily paired with the kind of person they once thought they would end up with.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself by casting aside quality individuals that don’t quite match your ideal physical appearance, job description, or personality.
I’m not talking about lowering your standards when it comes to faith or personal values. I’m simply suggesting you try dating out of the box.
We don’t always know ourselves as well as we’d like to believe. Sometimes the quality we think of as a turn-off in a potential partner, is the exact quality that will balance us in a relationship. By being willing to broaden your horizons, you might just end up with an unexpected relationship that is better than what you could have dreamed.
Follow the golden rule. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
Let’s take that a step further… For a healthy relationship, Dan and I have found the key to happiness is that we both do what we know the other person would prefer, even when it’s not what we personally want.
I’m not talking about putting yourself in a subservient position in an abusive relationship. Let’s be clear there. Yet when both partners are thinking about and doing what they know the other person would like, relationships are unbelievably easy.
When you prefer the other and they prefer you… life is good. On the flip side, when you have to be right. When you have to be first. When having to be justified is your mode of operation, relationships are nearly impossible.
We all want to be right. However, I learned the hard way that swallowing my know-it-all attitude and smart comments is key to a happy marriage.
Personally, I’d rather stay married than be right all the time.
Children are a gift, but they are not a solution. When you’re young and your relationship is rocky, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you have a baby, life will be happy again and all your relational issues will go away in the glow of baby euphoria.
Raising kids is hard work. My children are one of the greatest blessings of my life. They are my passion and my legacy.
But… they come with daily challenges and responsibilities that would only elevate marital struggles. Not to mention the serious life-long emotional scars we inflict on children growing up in a rocky home.
Please, I beg you, work on fixing your relationship before making babies.
Get your priorities in line. Life is so often out of control, it’s easy to let your priorities fall to the wayside.
Dan and I have found that we have to set aside time to reevaluate our priorities, and get them back on track.
Are we making time for each other? Do we have ample time to spend with our kids? Are we focused on our faith and passions? Are we making memories? …Or are we just getting swept away with being busy?
Self evaluation is a good thing for relationships. If we let the craziness of life take over, we neglect the people we love. Scheduling date nights, or one-on-one quality time, is necessary in a growing relationship.
Sex? Yes. Ok, I’m totally going there… Married people need to have sex to have a healthy relationship. It keeps the fire-a-burnin’.
The thing we were once so excited about, is often the very same thing that gets lost in the shuffle later in life. Yes, we’re tired. Yes, we sometimes have a headache by the end of the day. Yes, we don’t always feel like having sex.
Yet if there’s always an excuse not to have sex, you’ve got a problem.
Sex in marriage is not about sex itself… rather, it’s about creating intimacy. And intimacy is essential in a healthy relationship. When couples go long periods of time without having sex, their level of intimacy (and often trust) declines, meaning trouble is usually on the way.
Even if you have to schedule sex until you get back into the habit, having scheduled sex is better than no sex. And as far as how often? More is better than less. *wink*
Talk to your spouse. Be honest about your likes and dislikes… things you are comfortable with or uncomfortable with. Do the things you used to do when you were younger, less busy, and very infatuated with each other.
Rekindle that fire. You won’t be sorry.
Ok, that’s my two cents. What are your tips for a healthy marriage?
We’d love to hear your insights in the comments below!