Longevity in Marriage

By Darlene G. Snyder

How does a couple in today's busy, high-paced world keep our relationships from fizzling? What does it take to keep us out of divorce court? I learned a long time ago that it takes considerable effort and willpower on the part of both parties to build a long-lasting and fulfilling marriage.

I chose to emulate my parents as well as my in-laws. Their loyalty to each other taught me what true commitment really is. They also taught me through their actions and experiences that while it is true it does take the two of you to work together, at some point in a relationship one of you will have to be the first to "give". Both will have to be willing to release, let go of or give up something in order to save the marriage and somewhere along the way, this question will have to be answered, Is this relationship important enough to me to sacrifice something in order to salvage it?

The following are ideas that I have gleaned from my parents and in-laws, as well as experiences in my own marriage. Some of these ideas may seem outdated - but they work.

Communication

Talk to him. Write notes. Let him know how you feel. When we had only been married for fifteen years, my husband and I were at a place in our marriage where we were not talking. Each had issues with the other. I even considered leaving him. One night after I returned home from a conference, he picked up a note pad and pencil and began writing. He asked in his note if I was going to leave him. hat note lead to several pages of annotations written back and forward to each other. We poured our hearts out on paper. This written communication led to the healing in our marriage.

Love Notes

Leave short notes in his car, lunch box, bathroom or other areas. Surprise him with the declaration of your love to him. Often when my husband returned home from work he would tell me where he was when he read my note and who was there. His lopsided grin melted my heart.

Say I love You

Notes are nice; however, the spoken words I LOVE YOU are necessary. Voicing your adoration lets him know how you feel. We all like hearing those words.

Lower your expectations

No one is perfect, including you. Don't expect perfection in your husband. Be tolerant of each other's shortcomings. Don't pick at everything your spouse does or says, and avoid nagging.

Take a "Q" from old sitcoms

Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best may seem silly to us now, but notice how nicely the wife dressed. I am not suggesting you dress up to vacuum, but your appearance is important in other areas of your relationship. Throw out those sloppy, stained sweatpants and sweatshirts.

Learn to forgive

Holding onto grudges and grievances has no place in a marriage. You must be willing to accept apologies.

Ask for forgiveness

Not only is it important to forgive, you must also be willing to accept responsibility for your shortcomings, to say the words, I'm sorry, and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Be there for him

Don't get so wrapped up in your work, children etc that you miss opportunities to be a strength and support for your husband when he needs it. This may require that you lighten your load If you belong to so many clubs, organizations or other activities that you are consistently tired and irritable. It may be time to give something up.

Love his family

For some, this one may seem impossible. I've seen many relationships end because one of the parties didn't like, couldn't tolerate, or continually fought with their partner's family. You may not like his family, but do your best to be considerate of his feelings and show them respect.

Take care of yourself

Your health is important. Don't miss mammogram or gynecologic appointments. Have annual physical exams and do self-breast exams. Don't ignore warning signs for possible health issues.

Enjoy family mealtime together

This is a good time to talk about your day, listen to your family and enjoy one another's company. A quick meal in front of the TV is all right on occasion as long as you take time to sit down together as a family.

Laugh

Learn to laugh at yourself. Don't take yourself so seriously. Laughing is a release and can lighten your mood. It can break the tension in a stressful situation. Be careful not to laugh at your partner-laugh with him.

Spend one-on-one time with each other

It is important to spend time alone with each other. Light the candles and have a quiet dinner together, or dance, or walk hand in hand down a sandy beach or along a country lane.

Share in decision making

Neither party should purchase large or high priced items without first consulting the other. You need to be united in decisions regarding your children, money and plans for the future.

Encourage each other

Don't put each other down. Lift each other up. Use encouraging words in your conversations.

Respect each other

Respect his job, his family, his likes and dislikes. Respect his sports equipment or anything that is sacred to him. My husband loves music. He has guitars, mandolins, a harmonica, a banjo and all kinds of equipment to go with it. I used to quip, "You can put down his wife, just don't put down his music." He is very particular about his music instruments.

I am quite sure you could think of other steps or thoughts on making a marriage work. Some of these suggestions may not work for everyone. Every marriage is different, but every marriage requires mutual kindness, love, and respect. Marriage is not a mystery. It is a relationship, which requires nurturing. Now, go nurture yours.

Darlene G. Snyder is a freelance writer who lives with her husband in Richmond, Kentucky. She also works for the local courts. She has one adult married son. She writes occasionally for newspapers. Darelene can be contacted at dardarky@bellsouth.net


 
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