Thursday, January 14, 2010

Free advice ...

Next April, Vickie and I will have been married for 35 years. Not bad for a marriage that many predicted would never last! I've been thinking about this for a while and I've distilled some things I've learned into some free advice ... if you're thinking about being married or are just recently married, here are some thoughts that might be of some help. At least I can put them down and you can mull them over. These are not in any particular order.

1. Commitment to the relationship - if you've said 'yes' to the marriage vows, were you just mouthing the words so you could get to the honeymoon, or did you actually mean them? Assuming you at least thought you meant them, consider this: if you leave yourself an escape hatch, then the odds are quite high that the first rough patch in your relationship will see you using your escape hatch. Commitment means you are determined to make things work even when it's hard. A marriage that hasn't been tested yet, will eventually be tested! And successful tests in the past are not a guarantee about future tests.

2. It takes two to tango - no matter how much one partner in the marriage wants it to endure, if the other is seeking to escape, there's very little prospect of that relationship enduring. Only when you both want it to last will you figure out ways to get past the inevitable storms. Each must be individually committed, but it always requires an equal commitment.

3. Infidelity is generally fatal - a marriage is something that you begin to build from day 1. It's not just the wedding day and done. Each day, each experience, each trial, each triumph adds bricks to that structure. When you've been building that marriage, brick by brick, for a long time, then how important is that orgasm you're going to get with your 'touch of strange'? Can that even begin to match the value of what you've built over the years? Can you really do that and hurt your partner that badly? Is it worth it? If it is, then your relationship was built on sand. Or you're a jerk.

4. Trust is critical - you have to be able to trust your spouse, and I don't just mean about sex. I mean everything. If you don't trust your partner, then it's not much of a relationship. Funny thing about trust - it takes a long time to build but you can throw it away in a stupid, thoughtless instant. Lies and deceit are not part of a healthy relationship. You can lie to others if you choose, but not to your spouse - ever!

5. If you don't grow together, you'll inevitably grow apart - I don't mean by this that you have to stay in each other's hip pocket all the time. You can have different interests and do things independently of your spouse, but you need to share something together. Find that something and put time and effort into it if for no other reason than because it involves your partner in your life.

6. Accept your spouse completely - the things that your partner does that piss you off are probably never going to change. If you can't accept the 'imperfections' of your spouse, then either don't marry that person, or get out of that relationship as soon as possible. There many 'imperfections' that are quite understandable reasons for terminating a marriage: physical and/or mental abuse, infidelity, drug abuse, etc. You have to decide how to react in such instances. But don't let their merely annoying habits become a big deal with you. You don't have to like them, but you do have to accept them if the marriage is to survive. It never hurts to consider that you might have some annoying habits yourself!

If you and your spouse are fortunate enough to be able to keep your relationship alive and well through good times and bad for several decades, then I'm pretty confident you're using these concepts. I thank my lucky stars on a regular basis that I found a woman who'd accept me for what I am and put up with my foibles. She's the best thing that ever happened to me, by a huge margin, so I don't take anything for granted. Some say that love is never having to say you're sorry. Well, I'm not that perfect and I've made my share of mistakes - for which I've been sorry and said so. Vickie is the light of my life - without her, most of the rest of it would not have been possible. I hope your relationships can be as wonderful as our marriage has been!