To Love And To Hold
Marriage is alive and well. There are many compatible couples. You just don’t hear about them. But not all stick together because they have a good relationship. Longevity does not necessarily equal a quality relationship. In many long-term marriages, the partners put up with each other for economic reasons.
It is easy to tell those who endure from those who endear. Compatible couples are healthy couples. When they are together they seem to exude tranquility. They have an unselfish desire to please one another because there are sufficient shared paths, goals and values.
Compatibility is not something you have or don’t have but somehing you must work to achieve. Practicing the following, say the experts, you and your spouse can grow more compatible.
Be like two tall trees.
Married people should be like the oak and the cypress trees which grow in each other’s shadow. In other words, the marriages that hold up well include partners who develop separate interests. They do not seek to become Siamese twins joined at the heart. Each has time alone to read, see nonshared friends, fantasize and dream.
Allow your spouse to spread wings.
If your wife wants to return to work or your husband takes up skydiving, don’t fear the change. Don’t be afraid of abandonment or rejection. When your spouse continues to grow and develop, you may be delighted to discover that it can be like falling in love with a whole series of new people.
Be super sounding board.
Learn how to encourage, applaud, critique or just listen to your partner. And most important, know what kind of response your spouse needs at the moment.
Don’t let children intrude.
Let your kids have their own activities and relatonships, separate from yours. Your marriage should be the bulwark of the family-it precedes the children and continues after the children are gone. That way, it’s not likely that you will be overly doting grandparents when the kids have grown, because you have your own life to lead with new challenges.
By the same token, don’t let your in-laws intrude on your coupledom. Your commitment is to each other.
Go with the ebb and flow of sex.
Don’t expect sex to remain at the same passionate pitch as when you were newlyweds. Sex continues to evolve and change, differing from mood to mood, year to year, age to age. Learn to adapt to these changes and discuss your different needs.
Say what you’re thinking.
Don’t expect your spouse to automatically know your innermost desires just because he or she loves you. Learn to express yourself clearly and consistently. Use “I” statements such as “I feel this way” or “I don’t understand.” That opens the channels for resolving conflicts so that they won’t fester and explode later on.
A healthy, supportive relationship means you may need to negotiate everything from who cleans the house to who cares for the car. But don’t expect it to be a 50-50 proposition. If you give more than you expect, you’ll get back just as much as you put in.
Don’t nag, teach.
If you want your husband to become more sensitive, try being more sensitive yourself. Or try commenting, “I admire sensitivity in a man.” He’ll get the message without feeling manipulated.
Be good crisis managers.
When things go awry-you have an accident, the business goes bankrupt, the roof caves in- allow each other to express fury, hurt, confusion, embarrassment. Reach out to people and resources. Remember how you coped in the last crisis. Save what worked, discard what didn’t.
Know when to hold your tongue.
No subject should be taboo between you. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always appropriate to talk about everything. It may be better to button your lip about the dream you had about the new guy at work or that you think your wife just did something stupid. These may be transient feelings to you but could have a long-term effect on your partner.
Ask yourselves, “How are we doing?” Continually evaluate and work to improve your relationship throughout your marriage.
Say, “I forgive you.” You can’t make a vow for the future until you’ve learned to let go and forgive each other the wrongs of the past.