Having a good, healthy, nurturing marriage takes more than just wishing upon a star. It takes more than you dreaming about Mr. Right or Mrs. Right, and once you have found them you can begin that happily ever after, as it says in the storybooks. Well, let me be the first to tell you that lasting love takes hard work, deliberate dedication, and constant communication on both your parts. 

It puzzles me how people think once they have found their soul mate or the love of their life things are going to just magically fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle. Let’s be realistic for a minute if life was a little challenging, sometimes unsure, and at times perplexed by yourself, why do we think that adding another person to the equation will make those things miraculously disappear.

The problems and obstacles you had a hard time navigating through as a single person have now doubled; and in some cases tripled, if children are involved. You now have to learn how to navigate the co-mingling of two separate lives into one. Your problems are now mixed with their problems, in addition to the problems that you create together.

The decisions on how to handle things no longer rest solely on one person’s shoulders, but on both of you. You must take into consideration that you have different personalities, different ways of handling things, different perspectives, different interest, different backgrounds, and the list goes on and on.

Marriage Fantasies

I hate to burst your bubble about all those childhood fantasies that we grew up believing about marriage, but the real work begins after the “I Do” or when two are trying to exist as one. 

The biggest mistake we make in new relationships is to start them off one way without really giving thought and consideration as to how long we can keep up the charades before we get tired of doing what we are doing. Yes, at first you probably don’t mind, but after a while, you start to realize it was more than you bargained for and that you really didn’t plan on doing it forever. Or you may even start to feel a certain type of way because they expect it and you feel like you don’t want to do it all the time.

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Just remember, if you start off the marriage doing everything from A to Z you are sending a message to your spouse that it is ok, you enjoy doing it, you will continue doing it, and you can handle it without their help. In addition, you must also be ok with not getting their help. Your spouse will become accustomed to what you do and how you do it because we are creatures of habit.

Know how to ask for help

They are not taking inventory on what you do, they just know you are doing it and that they don’t have to worry about getting it done. They are also not trying to take advantage of you. Well, at least, let’s hope not.

Nonetheless, you can’t just one day decide to complain that you do everything and that they don’t help if that was never expressed or discussed early on before things became routine. Give great thought into how you start your relationship and what will be expected as you grow together. If you start-off one way you better be prepared to continue doing it or at least be honest enough to express and discuss that up front.

If not you will be upset that he/she isn’t helping nor offering to help and he/she will be upset that it’s not getting done and you’ve always done it so why do they need to help now? 

Start your marriage off right

Working on your marriage begins the very first day you make the commitment to be together for the rest of your lives. If you want a happy marriage with love, respect, communication, and understanding you must begin to shape and mold your marriage into that which you desire from the very beginning. I guarantee it will not just happen. Marriage is something we make, not something that we just let happen. And that’s usually where people go wrong. 

When love is fresh and new there are so many things we miss and over look. Not because we want to but because love truly is blind. Once the honeymoon phase is over and life begins to push and shove your love for each other to new depths, the blinders come off. Little things may begin to annoy you that once didn’t. Things that weren’t an issue now become an issue. 

Your spouse will change

News flash, the person you married is not going to be the same person in one year, five years, ten years, and so on. Why? Because, we are ever so changing, evolving, renewing and reshaping, the same way life changes around us. Every situation, circumstance, and the problem you encounter will change and alter you, and your relationship.  As life progresses our past and present will dictate our future.

How? Because we are what we do, say, and believe. The decisions we made five years ago molded and shaped us for who we were yesterday. The decisions we made yesterday will mold and shape us for who we will become tomorrow. We must understand that we are changing, therefore, it is inevitable that our relationship with each other and toward each other will change as well. And if we fail to consistently work on our marriage it will deteriorate. Realizing and recognizing these things will help you to be ahead of the marriage game, which in turn will build a stronger and more stable relationship.

Communication is the key

My suggestion is to start off the marriage with real and true insight as to how you want your relationship to be and continue to work on it from there. Remember to remain flexible as things can and will change. Don’t expect your mate to know that you don’t enjoy doing everything if that’s what you have conveyed to them from the beginning. You must encourage and practice healthy, free-flowing two-way communication. Being able to communicate is key in any relationship.

Both of you must be willing to express your feelings without judgment or condemnation. Incorporate both of your efforts in cleaning, cooking, and household duties. Be quick to listen and hastened to reactions and anger. Learn to work through disagreements and arguments early in the marriage so that it becomes a habit on how to handle things in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to each of you. Be willing to let go of old ways that may not demonstrate your best quality(ies), create new ways of doing things and embrace new beginnings together.

Starting-off a relationship or marriage with realistic expectations and goals can help eliminate unwarranted problems early, as well as later, in a marriage. I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding that marriage is made up of two individuals, therefore one person cannot do all the work to make it last. Love can last when it’s appreciated and nurtured equally from both of you.

Get to know each other

Make sure that you take the time early on in the relationship to learn each other. Talk with open and honest communication on your likes and dislikes, things that each of you will handle, what you will share as a couple, and what you usually do and how each of you will handle things together going forward. Learn to compromise. Not giving-in or giving-up, but understanding how compromise can have a profound effect on your relationship and your ability to communicate effectively.

Learn to recognize the things that really don’t matter and that way you can let go and move on. Key point: remember not to major in the minors. If you learn to come together and conquer the big things that will ultimately help you build a trusting, loving, communicating relationship, the little things will be a breeze.

The choices we make on a daily basis are what really makes a marriage strong and lasting. Marriage was a choice and so is a happy marriage. We can choose a happy marriage by willing to understand our spouse, recognize what works, and communicate consistently to adapt to changes where needed so that we can have what really matters in the end, a solid relationship. You can have the happily ever after when you are willing to put aside your differences and make those differences your strengths. 

Build upon past mistakes and try to avoid repeating situations that cause conflict. It is imperative to communicate openly, talk through what may be bothering you, and creating a plan of action on how to handle things moving forward. Marriage is a day-by-day learning, growing, and loving experience that becomes what you make it. Marriage is no easy task; you must continue to work on improving the vision for your marriage. Just as a house or car needs maintenance so does a marriage. Continue to work on you and each other- together to build and maintain a healthy, happy, loving, and lasting relationship. 

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