Being married is a huge responsibility. I think people often forget this fact. We are so caught up with being in love and lose sight of being accountable for another person. I have been married for over 24 years and I learned quickly that my husband and I are responsible for each other. It is our duty to protect each other’s hearts, minds, and being. What I do impacts him. His actions impact me. We are also charged with telling each other the truth, even if it hurts. We must be able to distinguish when to be vulnerable and when to be strong with each other.
Marriage is a relationship of trust. You are giving another person access to the deepest parts of who you are—and they are giving you their most inner being, too. Therefore, the marriage relationship is not a light thing to enter. When you get married, you are telling another person that they can trust you with their heart, body and mind—and that you trust them with yours. Marriage is not about being in bliss all the time. It is not about someone being able to read your thoughts and to anticipate your every need. And, it’s not about having someone cater to your every whim.
There is no manual because marriage is not a one-size-fits all. But, you can enter and maintain a health marriage with the right attitude. Here are a few concepts to remember that have worked for me, and other successful marriages I have seen:
When or if you decide to get married, be all-in. Give it your everything. You can’t be somewhat married or married when it feels good to you. There is no half-stepping. It’s a 100% commitment or nothing at all.
Accept that you will argue and disagree. You are two people who came together and choose to live and be one. You and your spouse come with your own views, preferences, and conditioning. You will not see eye-to-eye all the time. That’s ok and don’t expect otherwise.
Marriage is not about your spouse; marriage is not about you. Get rid of notions of you, me, mine and yours. Everything becomes we, us and ours. No exception.
Every decision or action carried out in secret or openly impacts your marriage relationship. So, do not do anything that will cause division, mistrust or harm to your spouse.
Communication is a primary component in a healthy marriage. More important, it is not what you say but how you communicate that matters. Being compassionate, mindful, and actively listening to what your spouse says can eliminate misunderstandings. What matters is that you are agreeable even if you disagree.
Be ready to listen--nothing more. You do not need to fix everything your spouse brings to your attention. Sometimes he/she just wants to vent.
It’s better to do what is right than to be right. Many couples get caught up in who was right, who was wrong, and I told you so. In the big picture, it does not matter. What matters is that you are both respectful and flexible with each other.
Compromise is a must. There is no either-or in marriage. You must be willing to meet your spouse halfway. Sometimes, you may even have to let your spouse have his/her way to keep peace. When you are willing to compromise, your spouse will be too.
Acknowledge and validate your spouse’s feelings and importance. People want to be validated—even those who claim they don’t need validation. We need validation because it helps us confirm reality—what is real from what we imagine. So, acknowledge how your spouse feels, or what they are experiencing. Show empathy and understanding.
If you mess up, confess and apologize. Then, you work your butt off not to make that same mistake again.
If your spouse messes up, forgive and let the mistake go. That means you are not taking your spouse through a guilt trip, holding them emotionally hostage, or punishing them. You are letting the mistake go and focusing on the good that your spouse has done.
Have fun! I can’t stress this enough. Be silly with each other. Create a sense of joy and comfort that provides relief from everyday life for you and your spouse.
There is so much more that I can share about this topic. And I will! So, please join our Members Only site to get more information. The more we learn the more we know. When we know better we can do better!
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Dawn C. Reid is the CCO and owner of Reid Ready Life Coaching (RRLC). She holds a master’s degree in psychology, and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation research (Ph.D, ABD).