People who are married a long time have a secret ingredient to what makes their marriages last, but it doesn’t come naturally. I have never known a couple who didn’t have any difficulties in their relationship. In fact, if a couple says they don’t have any problems, they are probably not looking at their spouse or their relationship realistically, because good relationships take work and probably all marriages go through a time of trial and testing.
While it is important to choose a mate who shares the same core beliefs, the real factor that is stronger than anything else in predicting whether a marriage is going to succeed and last is commitment. When both husband and wife are committed to working through difficulties and doing what it takes to resolve conflict, because they are in it for the long haul, the marriage has a serious chance of lasting. In order for this to happen, they have to be serious about being faithful and loving each other warts and all.
Commitment means a couple deeply believes that their marriage is meaningful despite difficulties and that the person they choose is worth fighting for, rather than fighting against. It means that the couple sees the value of their marriage and identifies themselves as a permanent family, even before children have entered the picture.
Part of the commitment equation is accepting one’s spouse for who he is and not trying to change him. It is perfectly okay to deal with bad behavior and to ask for change, but this is not the same as wanting to fundamentally change who the person is. Did you marry a man who leaves his socks lying in the bathroom or his shoes in the middle of the doorway? It is likely that he did that before you married him and it didn’t stop you from saying your vows. The easiest way to deal with this is to accept it as is and move on. There is a saying, “It is what it is.” When we really get that deep in our soul, it makes life with another imperfect soul much easier to live with.
This doesn’t mean you have to pick up after him. It does mean that if you want to stay married and be reasonably happy that you have to accept the fact that he is as imperfect as you and respect him for who he is. So he’s a slob, don’t define him by that negative trait. Don’t dwell on the negative. Commit to him as a person, the man you chose and the man that you have been building your life with and define him by what you love and respect about him. Go back in your mind and think about what it was that drew you to him in the first place and let your mind dwell there.
Commit to focusing on what you love and respect about him today. Think about the reasons you are with him today. Consider the difficulties you would face without him. These are some of the reasons why you are with him now and have stayed with him. These are values that he brings to the relationship. Write some of these in your journal and focus on them when you are unhappy about the socks or the fact that he’s watching the game while you want him to play with the kids. If he doesn’t leave his socks lying around and if he doesn’t watch the game when you want him to be doing something else, write these down too. Think about what he is doing right and dwell on these things. Use them when you are stressed and unhappy about something he has done that you are upset about. Go back to that place of remembering his value and the value of your marriage and dwell there.
When you see a couple who seems especially happy and right for each other, watch how they treat each other. They have an attitude of appreciation for the other person and they work as a team. They build each other and encourage each other. You can do that too.
For ideas on how to build a closer bond with your husband and get things moving in the right direction, you may be interested in Melt Your Man’s Heart, by Randall Bennett. This book is full of great ideas on understanding your man and drawing him near to you by being the first to make the changes necessary for a lasting, loving marriage.
Melt Your Man’s Heart is available for immediate purchase by clicking on the photo.
The couples in these photos are my grandparents. Being close to my grandmothers, they were open with me about their marriage struggles and how they worked through them. They were models of commitment and of dedication to their families. I owe them a debt of gratitude for sharing with me about their struggles and how they weathered the storms along the way. My grandparents were married 50 and 62 years, until parted by death and I know they thought it was totally worth it.
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