The Best Advice I Ever Received About Marriage
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By Shanon Lee, Featured Columnist - June 28, 2014

The Secret to a Lasting Marriage

One of the best things I ever did for my relationship was to participate in premarital counseling. Having each gone through a divorce, my partner and I wanted to learn the keys to a successful relationship. During one of our early sessions, our counselor graciously shared the secret to a lasting marriage.

As we leaned in to listen, he said, “The secret to a lasting marriage is that no one ever leaves.” We sat back and looked at each other. That was it? It seemed so simple, yet it was so profound.

Do Not Covet Another Couple's Marriage

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.” ~ Fawn Weaver

Marriages that stand the test of time have one major thing in common, spouses that never terminate the marriage. That is the big secret to a lasting marital union. Contrary to popular belief, an equitable partnership, mutual respect, sexual attraction and friendship may or may not play a part in the outcome of your marriage.

In our society, we are taught to hold our partners and our relationships to unrealistic standards. We unwisely compare our marriages to that of others, without understanding the challenges they may be facing. Yet, the only thing that guarantees protection against divorce is a couples united decision to stay together, despite everything.

Do Not Let Your Problems Fester

“An unresolved issue will be like a cancer with the potential to spread into other areas of your relationship, eroding the joy, lightness, love and beauty.” ~ Joyce Vissell

Now that the secret to a lasting marriage has been demystified, you must consider whether or not you want yours to. Do you feel loved? Do you feel safe? Do you feel supported? Examining the culture of your relationship and how your partner responds to your needs is significant.

As time passes, you will identify more of your spouse’s traits and behaviors that make you feel unsatisfied. Your concerns about staying together may become secondary to examining your quality of life as a couple and overall happiness. Utlimately, you may find that there may be several unresolved issues in your marriage that need to be addressed.

Learn What You Can and Cannot Accept

“When you like someone, you like them in spite of their faults. When you love someone, you love them with their faults.” ~ Elizabeth Cameron

During an individual session, our premarital counselor encouraged me to ask myself the question: “Can I live with [insert my partner’s major fault] for the rest of my life?“ After some thought, the answer was an unequivocal, yes. In the years since, we have learned to accept each other’s faults and respect each other’s boundaries.

Every breakup provides an opportunity for you to establish what you want and you need in your next relationship. In a marriage, you must communicate the boundaries that should not be crossed in order for your relationship to thrive. If your spouse is unwilling to respect your boundaries, you have to determine if they are worthy of your love.

Unlearn Your Bad Communication Habits

"The first step toward change is awareness." ~ Nathaniel Branden

We are raised in a family unit where we learn to model the behavior of our parents and caregivers. We often pick up unhealthy communication and behavioral patterns that must be unlearned if we want to have a successful marriage. The first step is to recognize how we have been influenced.

Often, our personal values and fighting style is unconsciously copied from our parents. Are you stingy with money, like your mom? Do you raise your voice when you get upset, like your dad? Once you increase your awareness about why you do the things you do, you can begin to make a contientious effort to change how you behave and improve your marriage.

 

photo credit: Caucas' via photopin 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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