So I will be the first to admit that I’m probably the last person to take marriage advice from, I seem to have failed miserably at that sport…But why should I let a string of past failures stop me from giving you some great advice? That’s right no reason at all, so if you ask me what it takes to build a great marriage, I think from an early age we are feed this fantasy that one day we will meet our “Soulmate”, then get hitched, make a few kids and hopefully live happily ever after. But I’m here to tell you that whole scenario is crap. A marriage is something that requires work, lots and lots of work. And you keep working every single day until your kids are legally considered an adult and head out on their own.
In my humble opinion, when a couple exchange vows, they are effectively saying to each other, “I pledge to put in the time necessary and the effort required to make our relationship a success for all the years to come, right up to the moment when our last kid moves out of the house”
I know, that probably isn’t your idea of the perfect marriage, and your right, it isn’t. But marriage is not always a Hallmark story romance. It is full of ups and downs. I would say that most anyone can make it through the good times. That’s the easy part! The real test on a marriage is if it can survive the rough patches, learning to make a lot of compromises with your marriage partner so that those kids you both made can grow up in a seemingly happy home with two parents who are just counting down the days until they can separate.
And when that day finally comes, when you and your spouse have finished raising your kids and at long last can split up without suffering the enormous guilt most couples do when they pull the trigger too soon before the kids are out of the house, your patience and perseverance will be worth it.
So when you ask me what makes for a good marriage, I say Patience, Commitment and about 18 years, this is what a good marriage will ask of you. Let’s say you get into a heated argument with your spouse, it can be easy to do nothing and just let those wounds fester. Or if you can never seem to see eye to eye with your spouse on the finances, your in-laws or how to spend your free time, these situations can end badly, you may not have the ability to make your relationship last. But if you both resolve to listen to each other and do your best to learn from these experiences, you both will develop the emotional tools you will need to keep things together for the remainder of your kid’s youth, which is all that really matters.
So next time you see that happy married couple holding hands as they are walking down the street, just keep in mind they didn’t get there by accident…they have been busting their asses to get there. I’m sure there have been many times they wanted to just throw in the towel, pack their bags and walk out the door, but instead of doing that, they put aside their petty differences, and resolved to stick with it for a few more years until the kids are out of the house before they finally say “Screw It, I’m F’ing done”
Please always keep in mind, When you commit to marriage with someone, it’s for the long haul, sometimes it can drag out 20, 22 or even 25 years. These days with a bad economy and poor job opportunities it can take a couple decades or more for your children to become independent adults, move out and finally release their parents from the obligation of marriage. If you happen to be a married person who is expecting to become a mother or father this year (first of all congrats) but it’s important to remember that you are now committing yourself to this relationship with your spouse for at least the next eighteen years, so around 2033 you can finally free yourself.
So hold your head up high, put a bold and determined face on, and remember with the correct attitude and intestinal fortitude, you will be together with your spouse from the day you utter “I DO” until the day you drop your youngest kid off at the freshman orientation and then finally you can go home to separate beds.
Another possibility for those who don’t feel they can hold it together those last few years, you could always drop your kids off at boarding school, which allows you to get out a lot sooner.
In closing just remember marriage isn’t an easy thing to do. But in the end, when you’re well into middle age and can slap divorce papers on the dining room table without seeing the broken, shattered look in your kid’s eyes, you will realize it was all worth the hard work.