6 Secrets To a Happy Marriage: Love May Not Be All You Need
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By Tara Parker, Guest Author - June 14, 2017

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Marriage: The institution made in heaven or driven into hell. No one makes the decision to marry with the goal of divorcing. Anymore though, with the number of divorces still readily occurring it would seem the wedding vows should include a disclaimer regarding divorce as a possibility. After all, it seems inevitable for some…or is it?

Maybe the following 6 secrets will help you to either reconsider your pending nuptials or strengthen your current marriage.

1. Respect: There are few things that matter more in a marriage than RESPECT for your partner. Respect is a multi-faceted factor within any union. It can be provided in the form of action, words or emotion and thoughts. It is a communication tool that reveals to your partner your inner feelings for them. Respect is a very difficult thing to provide when emotions are running high but it should be provided even when the lousiest of mistakes occur and vice versa! In other words, figure out what the healthy line of respect is for your partner and don’t cross it.

2. Understanding: There is a need for understanding within a marriage that romantic love is not a consistent feeling. Romantic love is that feeling that overpowers you in the beginning of a relationship. It drives you to become a better person. It pushes you to your limits without fear. It changes you – but is it not going to be that way consistently throughout the marriage. One of the best pieces of advice I received was this: “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin) Once you expect to fall in love with your spouse repeatedly, only then can you truly focus on the long-term commitment.

3. Communication: Communication is not only about telling your spouse how you feel but listening to their thoughts and feelings, too. This doesn’t mean you listen to interrupt but hear them out and soak in their thoughts and feelings. You may not always understand what they feel (and sometimes, you don’t have to) but you show respect to your other half when you use your two ears over your one mouth.

4. Patience: With respect, understanding, and communication you must have patience. As time marches on we change. Our looks change, our minds change, our habits change. There is no other way about it and sometimes those changes are not attractive or they seem to take forever. This is why patience is necessary for your spouse while they move to the next developmental milestone in their personal or professional journey. They rely on you for that and you should be able to rely on them for the same.     

5. Tolerance AND/OR Acceptance: This is a biggie. Tolerance and acceptance are siblings to patience - one way or another they go hand in hand. It is easy to adore the positive traits of our lifelong partner and yet easy to roll our eyes or criticize them for their shortcomings. There may be times when your spouse simply doesn’t do things as you would or say what you want to hear and that is when you just have to “suck it up, Buttercup.”

It is not your job to change your partner. It is not your job to make them a better person. Your job is to accept them for who they are and tolerate that which makes you cringe. So few habits are going to be life long, so hang tight and remember, they are likely tolerating and/or accepting something about you they don’t value.

6. Forgiveness: This is the toughest thing about marriage, which is why is it the final point. If you have married someone that you don’t feel you could provide unconditional forgiveness to them marital life might be that much more difficult for you. Forgiveness doesn’t provide permission for your spouse to be thoughtless and careless. Nor is forgiveness a weapon to use against your spouse.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom from anger and resentment when your spouse goes to great lengths to be an idiot or to be hurtful. It gives you the freedom to move on in your marriage and work through the “for better and for worse”. I know, it doesn’t seem as though I am thinking through all the crappy situations that result in divorce; however, the marriages that I have seen or heard last are those that extended forgiveness and allowed for a rebuild of the relationship. Remember, it’s about falling in love, repeatedly, with the same person.

You might have noticed I left out what the majority of the population might consider to be the most important aspect of a relationship: L-O-V-E. Love is an emotion; we don’t necessarily have a choice to feel it but we have the choice to identify it. (Deep, I know.) All of the items on the list are things we must CHOOSE to do for our loved one. We must choose to be respectful even when we feel vindicated to not be. We must choose to understand when we would rather be unreasonable.

We must choose to communicate when we are confused, lost or not sure. We must choose to be patient as our loved one makes mistakes or changes. We must choose to tolerant the less desirable traits and accept them as they are. We must choose to forgive them when even when they don’t deserve it right away. When we make these choices love results. It isn’t love you have to hold on to, it’s the desire to make the choices that creates the love.

You (and your spouse) can do it!

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