I’ve been married for over four years. In that time we’ve had our ups and downs (mostly ups), and we are learning what it truly means to stand by someone’s side through it all. When we said “I do” we took it very seriously, and we have every intention of making this thing work.
But, what happens when things get rough? How do we manage the “downs” when neither of us witnessed a strong, long-lasting marriage growing up? My husband’s father passed away when he was just seven. My father, although alive during my entire childhood, was not an active part of my life at all. All things considered, both of our mothers did a phenomenal job raising us. We now see that raising kids with a spouse is no easy feat. I can barely wrap my brain around how our mothers did it all without the added, constant support of a life partner. To put it mildly, they were amazing.
Yet, we know that how we interact with others, in large part, is a result of what we saw growing up. Did we see our parents love each other? Did we watch them disagree respectfully and peacefully? Did we see, firsthand, what makes a marriage strong?
How do we both figure out how to make this marriage thing work when the entire experience is very new for us? How do we figure out how to strengthen our union when it’s not something we saw firsthand during our childhood? We certainly saw, and received, plenty of love. But, we didn’t see how two people successfully manage the complexities of a marriage.
These tips reflect a few things we’ve learned along the way, and have served our marriage well. I hope they can help you make the most out of yours whether you witnessed a great marriage during your childhood or not.
Don’t Seek Marital Advice From Unmarried Friends
This is absolutely not an attack on single friends. I still turn to my single friends for advice about almost every area of my life. However, we do not turn to them for marital advice. For that, we call our married friends. It just makes sense to seek advice from people who can relate to your experience because they’ve been there.
Tell Yourselves That Divorce Is Not An Option
If it’s an option there is a much stronger chance that you will both consider it when things get rough (and I mean really rough). Just take it off of the table as an option. Unless you are in a situation where a form of abuse is involved, getting a divorce should not be the answer to a rough patch.
Remember Why You Got Married
Getting married is a major decision that I’m sure wasn’t made lightly. Think about why you got married and remind yourself of it daily. Is your mate loyal? Do they believe in you when you don’t even believe in yourself? Are they an amazing parent? Focus on why you decided to say those vows in the first place.
Nourish Your Friendship
There is surely something to be said for marrying your best friend. Laugh together, bounce ideas off of each other, share dreams, create goals – do all of the things that will make your friendship stronger and more meaningful.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Trying to have a successful marriage is difficult to achieve if you think every battle is worth fighting. Learn to laugh at yourselves, and choose your battles carefully. Some things just aren’t worth it. Save your energy for the things that are.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but even the very best things in life come with challenges. Meet those challenges head on and give your marriage a fighting chance, even if you have to learn how to do it one step at a time.
BMWK family — What did you learn about marriage during your childhood?