Here is one of my two cent blogs. This is just my opinion and for the most part I have kept this to myself, but I figured since family was already writing me off left and right for my opinion then I might as well put it out there.
I am not an expert on marriage. I am not a psychologist. My own marriage isn't perfect, but we have been married for almost 16 years now, together for 18 so I think that says something. On top of that, our marriage has neither been perfect nor easy. It began with the death of three members of my husband's family. Our marriage continued with poverty, under employment, infertility, miscarriages, depression from both sides, unhealthy pregnancies requiring almost a year of bedrest between the four of them, one person moving 1400 miles away for a job while the other has to single parent it and pack up a home, death of loved ones, and children with serious developmental delays. At this point in my life I have given up on ever being financially comfortable - we will be perpetually middle class, four child broke. I also have to add that at one point my husband was working full time and going to school full time (to a college that was three hours away) while I worked part time and parented four children. Our marriage has been stressful, to say the least.
In my life I have also witnessed many marriages/relationships crumble. While I am the first to say that life is too short to be unhappy, and no one should live in a relationship that is either physically or emotionally abusive, I will say that it is just sad to watch people give up so quickly on what they once said should last a life time. So - here are my thoughts on how to produce a happy marriage.
1. Make sure you are marring the right person. OK - this might seem like a "duh", but you would be amazed at how many people marry the first person they fall in "love" with. I have seen people get married at 17 and stay married forever, it does happen, but I have seen way more people get married right out of high school. Do you really grasp marriage at that age? I don't think most people do. I was purposed to by three different people in my life time. Now, I am not an amazing catch, I am the first to admit that one. That fact that I was purposed to ever still amazes me, but I had three very different, honest proposals to marriage. I know that I would have been happier being alone forever then marring either of the first to men who asked me to marry them. We wouldn't have worked well together. They were both great guys, and I liked them both as friends, but there is no way that I would have been able to live the rest of my life with them.
2. Only you can make yourself happy. No man or woman will make you happy if you are un-happy. I am not saying that a person won't bring you joy, but you can't marry someone with the thought that you will be happy once you marry them. Only you can make you happy. You can not bring happiness to someone else either - they have to find their own happiness. In marriage, you can hope that the two of you together can help you find your own happiness, and you can share it together, but that is it.
3. Things will not work out as you plan. I am 38 years old. I had plans for my life. At this age Nick and I would be financially comfortable, have three very bright, funny, and witty kids. We would travel the world and share that with our children. We would have a plethora of friends and we would both be nearing the top of our career field - Nick as a writer and I as a pediatrician. . . Those where my plans when we got married. Life happens. You can't let the road blocks in life ruin you or your marriage. I never went to medical school. Nick never was promoted. Sick children led to crushing debt. Heck - two of our children have serious developmental delays that really have changed our views on the future. We are broke - four kids - working class broke. Heck, I am 38 and Nick is 42 and we don't even own a house. Very little has turned out the way we planned for it to turn out. You have to roll with it and not let it destroy you or your marriage.
4. Sex does not define a marriage. OK - this is probably TMI but we have four kids who hardly ever sleep. When they do finally all fall asleep there is a good bet that the adults are done as well. Sex may be an awesome thing, but not having it as often as you would like does not mean that your marriage is over.
5. Bringing another life into the relationship will not "fix" anything. I love kids more than anything. I personally would have a baby every two years if my body could, but my body can't do that anymore and honestly wasn't all that good at it when it could. I love babies and puppies and kittens, but if your marriage is in trouble don't get pregnant, bring home a puppy or kitten. . . . . .don't. Adding another life to chaos usually does not mend the issue - it usually just adds more stress and makes it worse!
6. There are no "his job" " her job" in a relationship. You are a TEAM. It is not one persons job to hear the money while another persons to clean the house and take care of the kids. Work together. That may sound strange when you know me, I am a SAHM and Nick works full time. I do most of the house work and take care of the kids, Nick earns the money and takes care of the yard. That is how things tend to fall in our house, but there was a long time where we both worked and we both had to clean the house and cook. When you start assigning "jobs" to one thing or the other than I find there is usually a lot of animosity when one person ends up doing the other persons job. It isn't like that. You are a TEAM.
7. Don't fight about money. OK - I know lots of people fight about money and I never understood that. Maybe it is because we have never had more money than what we need. There is no money to fight about because every penny pays the bills and for food, but so many people fight about money. I saw it with my parents. I have seen it with my friends. Money is just money. Oh - and there isn't "my money" or " his money". You are a TEAM - the money belongs to the team and should go to benefit the TEAM!
8. You will have to give things up - don't be mad about it! There will be things you enjoy that you will have to give up on - at least from time to time. I love going to plays and the movies. Love going! I could go every week, but going to plays and movies can get expensive and when the money is tight you have to give it up. Can't get mad at your spouse for it. I wanted to be a SAHM. Really wanted to be home with my kids when they were little, but because money was tight I had to get a job in order for the kids to eat. Can't be mad at Nick for that, just how it is. Nick loves his motorcycle, but when money is tight we can't afford to get it on the road. Kids come first. He can't be mad at me for that. My point here is that things happen and both sides will have to give things up every now and then. Maybe you love to go to the bar with your friends, but sometimes that can't happen because of money, work, kids. You can't let that make you angry - that is life!
9. Make your spouses goals important to you. We all have goals in life (at least I hope we all do). Know what your goals are, and know what your spouses goals are and do your best to make them happen. Nick someday wants a pilot's license. I want to make sure he gets that license. I someday want a big old home, Nick knows that and is working to make that happen someday. Nick wanted his MBA - so we made this happen - together. We both want to help put our kids through college, not eat dog food in retirement, and be debt free. Sometimes that seems unrealistic (like now when all the money earned seems to go towards living expenses), but these are goals we both have and someday I will go back to work to help these goals become a reality.
10. It is not your spouses fault. Life is hard. The dreams you may dream may not ever happen. You can be broke, tired, angry, scared. . . . don't take this out on your spouse. You may have lost someone you love, may fell guilty about it, don't take it out on your spouse. Your kids may have been nasty all day, you might not have gotten to shower, might feel fat and bloated, don't take it out on your spouse.
11. Apologize. We all say things we don't mean. All of us. When we are angry, sad, broken - things come out that we don't mean. Apologize for it. It isn't a competition. You don't need to always be right. Admit to being wrong and apologize.
12. Don't give up because you don't like them. OK - this probably sounds strange - but if there is no abuse in the relationship don't just walk away because you don't like that person. There is point where being with someone can suck away your happiness - then you might really consider ending it - but if you are at a point where you just don't like that person don't end it. Wait a little bit. Give it time. I will say - there have been times in the last 16 years where I didn't like Nick. Times where the stress of dealing with kids and finances made his issues seem trivial and made me not want to deal with him anymore. There were moments where I felt like everything I had to give was giving to the kids, and I just couldn't give him anything more. Heck, there was a couple of years where this was how I felt - Nick was depressed over his crappy job and the loss of his family members, I was working and Gabe had just been diagnosed with autism while Evelyn was a year old. We were broker and our health insurance wouldn't cover a dime of Gabe's medical expenses so every month seemed worse than the one before financially. Nick had shut down and couldn't even even deal with Gabe's diagnosis - leaving it up to me alone to figure it out and figure out how we were going to pay for treatment. Things were bad then, REALLY bad. I didn't like Nick at that point, felt abandoned by him, didn't have it in me to help him deal with his own depression - but we didn't give up. We talked about it at times, but the reality of it was that - a - we stood before God and promised we would be together until death -b- it was hard but no one said it would be easy and -c- at the end of our lives the reality of it is that I could think of no other man's butt I would be willing to wipe and I could think of no other man I would be OK wiping my butt than him. He was my best friend at one point and just because things where hard and we both changed didn't negate the fact that he is my best friend.
13. Trust them. You married them - stand back and trust them. If they break your trust confront them, but until they have broken your trust then just trust them. On the same token - be trust able. Don't cheat on your spouse. Don't hide things from him/her. Don't betray him/her. You are married to this person - act like you are married to this person!
14. Communicate! This is probably the number one reason why I think my marriage has lasted through what it has lasted through. Tell your spouse everything. Tell them what you feel and how you feel. Tell them your plans and goals - and listen to them as they tell you theirs. If you feel abandoned - tell them - and let them tell you things you don't want to hear. Be open. Be honesty.