I’ve been married for 33 years! I have three great kids and two awesome grand kids. I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a Dad and husband but I like to think I’m always getting better. Here are a few pieces of advice I can pass along with regards to marriage and relationships.
A. Choose someone who can easily forgive. You are going to make a lot of mistakes as you grow as a couple and at times you may say things that will unintentionally hurt your partner. The better your mate is at forgiving the easier it will be on you! I recommend purposely doing something really stupid when you are dating and see how well your lover gets over it. If he/she laughs it off or is quick to forgive then you have a real keeper. If you continue to hear about it for the next 6 months you might want to re-activate your Match.com account.
B. Learn to communicate from the heart. There’s nothing sadder than seeing an old married couple at a coffee shop. They sit there staring in to the distance and barely say a word. The guy might read the paper and the lady will try to strike up a conversation with the people at the next table. This is not who you want to be in 20 years. I know you think you won’t be like that. You are convinced your love is so strong and alive that you’ll never end up like that couple but guess what, we all think that! Do you think when we first started dating we acted like that? Not on your life!
Learn to share more than facts and observations. For example;
“We need more milk”
“The neighbour got a new lawnmower”
“Did you see that squirrel the other day?”
Of course we all want to hear about the squirrel and the new lawnmower but you have to get deeper than that. You need to share your hurts and opinions and discomfort. You need to let someone inside your heart – beyond the shopping list and activities happening on the block. Be brave and be vulnerable and let your mate really get to know you.
C. Love correctly. You may have heard of a book called, “The 5 Languages of Love“. It’s an exceptional book and all couples should read it. The premise of the book is that we each have our own way to feel loved. For some it’s when someone spends time with us. For another it could be a word of affirmation. Some people feel loved when they are touched. The point is to find out how your mate wants to be loved and do that.
You might think you’re showing your love by changing the oil in his/her car or doing the laundry but you’re partner’s love language might be spending time. While you think you’re doing something really special by climbing under the car for 30 minutes, your spouse might be wondering why you’re not inside spending time with him/her. You just wasted all that time changing the oil for nothing!
Find out what language your lover speaks and do that! It’s pretty simple. Oh, and while you’re at it find out what love language you speak and tell your mate to start doing it back. Viola! You’ve got the perfect partnership!
D. Settle. Yeah, that’s right. Decide right now that you are settling on what you’ve got! There’s no more shopping around or fantasizing about aliens abducting your mate. You made your choice and you’re stuck with it. Honestly, that is where you need to begin. There’s no back door, no exit, no swapping, you are stuck with the person you chose.
Of course I’m not talking about relationships that are abusive or there has been cheating but for the rest of us we just need to give up and make the best with what we’ve got. Besides, who else is going to put up with all your weirdness and funny smells anyway?
Once you’ve firmly settled in your mind that you are serving a life sentence with this person you might as well make the best of it. You can choose to be miserable for the rest of your life – which a lot of couple decide to do – or you can say, “hey, this person isn’t so bad. Let’s see if we can actually enjoy being together“.
From that perspective you will have the motivation to do whatever it takes to make your combined lives fun and meaningful and full of love. You’ll learn to cherish your partner and see all the things about them that first attracted you. I mean you might as well right? You’re stuck with this person!
I hope those little bits of advice will help you develop a wonderful relationship with someone special. You are a better person when you are a strong couple and you have a much greater chance of achieving your dreams and feeling content when you are in sync with the person you call your lover.