When we get married we all are filled with joy and hope for a happy future with our life partners. Many of us as women dream of the day our prince charming will propose and sweep us off our feet. Promising to love, cherish and share their lives with us until death do we part. We dream of our wedding day and walking down the aisle in front of our parents, relatives and close friends. We have so much hope and expectations for our future that we never want that feeling to end. What happens after we get married? What happens after our wedding day? There is so much hype that goes into planning the wedding itself we may never stop to think about planning a marriage. So how can we have a happy marriage that lasts?
My husband and I have been happily married for thirty-four years. In fact, we just celebrated our anniversary last week. I am no expert on the matter but I feel compelled to share my experience with you ladies because I see in our society today that we are taking the commitment of marriage very lightly. I see many women getting married because they think it will make them happy or because they just want to get away from their families. Some women marry out of obligation from their families. Some women marry for a higher social status or financial stability. Still some women marry because they love their partner with all of their heart and want to live with them the rest of their lives. Hopefully, those of you who are reading this got married for the latter. If so I would like to discuss how we can have a marriage that lasts and live happily ever after.
When the wedding bells have rung and all of the gifts have been opened and you return home from your honeymoon, as women, we feel like we are on cloud nine and we don’t know how we could ever be so happy. As time goes by, we discover many new things about our partners that we may have either overlooked or really had no idea that they did certain things. You learn a lot about a person when you live with them and have to share everything. I know this is why, in our society today, a lot of people think that before they get married they should just move in together and test it out. I totally disagree with this notion and I will tell you why. The divorce rates are even higher for those people who decided to live with each other for a long period of time before getting legally married. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. My other reason is because if you are worried that the person you want to marry might not be the right one in the first place then that’s a red flag right there and you should ask yourself why you have those feelings about your partner already.
Once you get settled with each other in your marriage, usually after the first year, you begin to feel a sense of comfort. You begin to sort of relax with each other, so to speak, and that’s when things may start to get a little complicated. Especially if you both entered the marriage with high expectations for each other without having discussed them before saying “I do”. Now when I say high expectations, I mean that you came into the marriage with preconceived notions of how things would be and how your partner would be( I know a lot of you are thinking that this is why you should live together before marriage so as to find out these things before getting married. If it worked, the divorce rate among those people who lived with each other for a substantial period of time would be much lower. It’s not! It is much higher than those who marry and then move in together).
For instance, let’s say your husband always cleaned up after himself whenever you went out to dinner or ate at someone else’s house while you were dating. This may have been one of the reasons you fell in love with him to begin with. Then, not long after getting married, he starts to leave his plate on the table after dinner or maybe he picks up his plate but leaves it in the sink. You think to yourself. “Hmmm, oh no! He didn’t just leave his plate in the sink and expect that I am going to wash all the dishes! I have a job too!” This scene is a very typical example of how we may start to get so comfortable with our partner that we start to relax with each other and show our true colors, so to speak.
Ladies, everyone puts on their best behavior before getting married. It just comes natural. This is why it is so important to see your partner in many life situations before making that commitment to marry. This example is of course a very minor thing that most of us can work out, but you understand what I am trying to say. Let’s say that this is a big deal for you though. Let’s say it really bothers you. How would you handle this?
Most of us, including myself, would probably either say something and start an argument, or just go on ahead and wash all the dishes and be resentful the rest of the evening and not say anything. If you chose to be resentful and wash the dishes anyway and then walk around with an attitude thinking your husband knows what he did that upset you, you are probably very wrong. He most likely has no idea and thinks that everything in his world is great. Ladies, we must have good communication with our partners. The choice to start an argument with him is not a good choice either. So what is the best way to handle this situation?
Instead of getting in an argument or keeping it built up inside until you blow up later on, you need to have a discussion with your husband about the situation. Timing matters. Don’t pick a time where your husband is preoccupied with something else. Especially if you think it is not important. If it is important to him, it should be important to you. After all, we did promise to love this person for the rest of our lives didn’t we? Some of you might be thinking, “Yes, but that was before I found out how lazy he is”…or etc. This is where the test of true love comes in.
The word “love” is thrown around and taken so lightly in our society today. Everyone just assumes they will be loved when they get married. People think that all couples in a committed relationship must love each other otherwise how could they stay together?
Just because two people who are committed to each other in marriage or a long lasting relationship are together, doesn’t necessarily mean they love each other. Many people stay in marriages because they are afraid that everyone will think that they failed. Some stay because of the children. Some stay for financial reasons. Some stay because their religious beliefs tell them they can never divorce. Some people stay because there is abuse and they are afraid to leave. If this is the case, you must seek shelter and get professional help right away. This is very unfortunate. Don’t stay if there is any kind of physical and/or mental abuse. Things will get worse not better. If you are married for any other reason than mutual love, you need to get professional help.
Hopefully when you married your partner you saw something in them that made you smile and say, “Wow! I love him and I just want to be with him everyday and live a happy life!”How do we find that kind of love in our marriage again if when we look at each other all we can see is resentment and despair?
First we must remember why we decided to marry our partners in the first place. We must have saw some good qualities in them when we took our vows. Many of us get so relaxed in our marriages we forget why we married in the first place. We start focusing on the negative things we see instead of all the positive things about our spouses and let it consume our thoughts. It’s funny how, after being married for awhile, we can look at our spouse and see all the negative things they do but don’t ever look at ourselves and judge ourselves the same way. We are not any better than they are my sisters! We may have to live with them and put up with a lot of the things that we don’t like but they also have to live with us and put up with all we bring to the table as well. This is a hard realization.
Loving our spouses everyday is a blessing. We can have a blessed and happy marriage if we learn how to truly love our spouses selflessly instead of selfishly. This, ladies, is the only way to have a marriage that lasts and stands the test of time and will lead to a happy, joyful and fulfilling marriage.
If we want to change our marriages for the good and live happily ever after, we must decide to look at the positive qualities our spouses possess. Even if we have to make a list of all the positive things we see in them. Do it! Think about those qualities every time you are together. Even when they do something that bothers you. Especially when they do something that bothers you. Do this until it becomes a habit.
Next, if we truly love someone we will treat them like we do. I believe that love is an action word not a feeling. I realize a lot of you are thinking, “No! That’s not true! I loved my husband when we first got married. I just don’t feel the same way now. I’ve fallen out of love for him.” Ladies! Love is NOT something you fall into and out of! Love is an action. It’s something you do. When you got married you may have been loving your husband but you were also very infatuated with him as well. After awhile, the infatuation simmers down. Love is what you do to turn up the level of infatuation you have for your partner.
I believe that if two people who are married and want to have a happy and joyful marriage they must live to serve one another. Oh my! There’s that word! Serve! Yes ladies! I said serve! This means that both partners must be willing to serve each other to the best of their abilities with love and kindness selflessly.
Let’s unpack this statement for a minute. Many of you are saying, “Okay! Let’s say I start serving my husband with love and kindness selflessly and he doesn’t return the favor. Then what?” This is why I said selflessly. Ladies, we must be willing to serve our husbands in every way selflessly expecting nothing in return. If you are serving your husband selfishly, always watching him and expecting him to return the favor, you will become disappointed. You need to truly want to serve him selflessly. Only then will you feel joy in your heart for your spouse again. He may not return the favor. Especially at first. He might just think that something is wrong with you or that you are treating him differently because you want something. Stay the course ladies! Don’t give up! Someone has to be the first to start the fire again. I believe that the first one to start this on going commitment to serve each other has God’s heart!
Lastly, enjoy each other’s company. Find things you enjoy doing together and do them often. Take time out for each other. Plan a regular weekly date with your spouse. This is time that’s set aside for just the two of you. No one else. I know this can be hard at times. Especially when you have children or extended family staying with you. Let them know that you need some time alone with each other to spend by yourselves. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or care for them. It’s just a way of taking care of your marriage. If they truly want you to be happy, they will understand.
Most children and families love watching their parents show affection for each other. I’m not talking about a deep passionate kiss or anything like that but I am talking about holding hands or putting your arms around each other. This gives them hope. So I believe it’s okay to show affection in front of your children. My children constantly remind my husband and I that we are their role models for what a good marriage looks like so with that we feel a huge sense of responsibility.
Here is a verse that has always spoke to my heart and I would like to share it with you…
Proverbs 3:3-4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
This I believe with all of my heart and soul. If we love our spouses and have faith in them instead of focusing our efforts on the negative things, then the Lord our God will give us favor with Him and with everyone else that witnesses it. Our children will then have a good example to follow and it will be passed on from generation to generation. Our marriages will be blessed and we will find joy and happiness in our partner because we are loving them not because they are loving us.