With the approach of our thirty second anniversary, I have been giving some thought to marriage lately. So I’m climbing up on my soapbox and letting loose my thoughts on the topic. I like this definition from Wikipedia: “Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. Such a union is often formalized via a wedding ceremony.” Here’s my own simpler definition: “two people who love each other agree to do so for the rest of their lives.”
A caveat to my divorced friends, acquaintances and blog readers before I get started: this is my one-sided view of marriage. I have never been in your shoes, and I am not judging you in any way. Please forgive me ahead of time if I inadvertently, unknowingly say something that you think is wrong. But also, please chime in with a comment if I do!
I will begin at the beginning with the wedding vows. This is what I believe: say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you say, “till death do us part,” you are saying that nothing that happens in your lives will be allowed to tear your marriage apart. Think carefully and long about this one; I think it is the most important one to discuss. When we were planning our wedding, my husband (who was mature beyond his 21 years) said, “this means forever, do you understand that? There will be no divorce, so be sure you can wrap your mind around that.” What does forever mean to an eighteen year old?? I agreed with no compunctions; and through some rough times that quick discussion, which I never forgot, kept me assured and confident that we could get past anything.
The next important part of our vows was “cherish each other.” Sounds easy peasy when you are in love and in the honeymoon phase. Not so easy when the going gets tough. Sometimes those charming habits of his become the cause for annoyance, embarassment, disgust, even rage. I’ll be big enough to admit that probably works both ways. Through these many years I have found our “in-loveness” to be a rollercoaster. There have been times when I can’t believe I chose this guy; and then suddenly one morning I wake up as in love with him as the day we wed. Literally, it can happen from one day to the next or it can go for months. Cherishing each other means not abusing each other verbally, emotionally or physically. Here are some synomyns for cherishing: treasuring, prizing, esteeming, revering. Good stuff to remember.
We also promised “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to honor.” The wording of our vows is a promise, and we don’t break promises.
Once the vows are exchanged, it’s time to make your own recipe for marriage. Do not let anyone tell you how it should be! It is a basic truth that no one truly knows what goes on in a marriage behind closed doors; nor should they. Our recipe has gotten us through some major life events. I found this one online that generally seems to fit us. All of these are good points and all leave room for interpretation and individual fit.
Sarah’s Recipe for a Happy Marriage
1 cup each of the following: Trust, Kindness, Honesty, Compromise, Great or at least, frequent, sex
2 cups of: Love, Patience, Respect, Forgiveness, Communication, Validation
Equal Parts: Appreciation, Belief that you only want the best for each other, Pure Grit & Determination, Individual Responsibility, Willingness to grow, Ability to say sorry and mean it, Loyalty
Plus at least a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cup of “sweet cherries,” such as the occasional butt pinch, spontaneous kiss and “just because,” flowers, note, or thoughtful deed!
Realize that these ingredients won’t always be fresh, or easy to obtain! Life will inevitably throw you some sour times. You’ll be hit with some hard grains of salt, and perhaps even, too much spicy–heated pepper! When this happens, bring out the chocolate for her, the ice cream for him–and don’t forget the cherries!
Be willing to discuss this recipe from time to time and see which ingredients are most important to spouse during certain life-stages! This recipe may take some tweaking and a while to learn, but have no fear, it is a fool-proof, no fail recipe for a truly happy lasting marriage!
Oh, and most of all, enjoy your efforts–and each other! (http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/2009/08/recipe-for-a-happy-marriage/)
I am lucky to have found a guy who truly loves and respects who I am, even if it drives him mad at times. And I am lucky to have found a guy who I truly love and respect, even if he drives me mad at times too. I don’t think I would have married someone who didn’t feel the same way I do; but that may be hindsight as well as luck. The key is that you are both on the same page; both agree to say what you mean and mean what you say.
If you choose to spend your life with someone, the rewards are great: someone to share the good times as well as the bad; a partner in crime; lots of inside jokes; more sex than other people; better sex too; unconditional love; someone to bounce your thoughts off of; support of your endeavors; still finding out surprising things about each other and yourself after many years; and so much more. Don’t misunderstand- one relationship cannot fullfill all of your needs. Outside friendships and family relationships are a big part of a marriage. In fact, I did not marry one man. I married an entire family, a group of friends and a business. But my life partner is there for me on a yin-yang level that cannot be matched. I am not a fan of statements such as “he completes me,” but I will, without doubt, stand behind “he complements me.”
I wish each person could find “a one” (as opposed to “the one”- that’s too fairy tale-ish) who will hold hands and go skipping through this life together. It makes things way more tolerable and fun.