Recently, my son proposed to his future wife.
My niece also recently announced that she is engaged.
It seems that love is in the air!
These life changing, momentous events are occuring as I am sweeping up remaining debris from my failed marriage.
And it got me thinking...
What did I learn from my marriage and what advice would I give one of these people,
who I love dearly, as
they prepare to step into a lifelong committment of marriage?
1. Love is wonderful - and you need to marry someone that you love with all your heart mind and soul. But more importantly...you need to really LIKE the person. They should be a friend.
2. Marriage is a verb. It is NOT ceremony. In the words of Steve Martin in "Father of the Bride"..."That's a wedding". And wedding's only last for a few hours. Then real life begins. And to be successful, you have to stay actively engaged and work at it.
3. Marriage is messy - you are going to see this person at their best. But more often, you are going to see this person at their worst...when they are overwhelmed, cranky, short-tempered, tired, sick, with morning breath and morning hair, ... Take the time to let your partner see you at your "best" as often as possible. They deserve it.
4. There are no guarantees. For years, I heard all sorts of "formulas" that were supposed to guarantee a successful marriage. I have learned that there are many marriages that I thought were "perfect", only to find out that they were not. They were far from perfect - in fact, they were downright disfunctional. Bottom line...you have to remember to keep the marriage and your partner high on your priority list. Pay attention to them and forget the formulas.
5. Do not divorce your friends. Too many people I know decided that once they were married, they were no longer allowed to work on their friendships. I think that is a big mistake. We still need our friends.
6. Do not give up on your dreams. Life is going to get crazy. You may or may not have children and once you do, they will become your priority. That is how it should be. But we all have the ability to keep pursuing our dreams. Even if it is only for 5 minutes a day.
7. Keep growing and trying new things together - My oldest brother and his wife just started taking guitar lessons together. A friend of mine and her husband started contra-dancing. Find those common things that bring you together. Keep the sense of wonder and adventure alive. (Refer to #2)
8. DATE - Yes you are married. But you still need to go on dates. Make it a priority to reacquaint yourself with the person you fell in love with...get dressed up for each other; treat it like something special.
9. The old standby rule is still true - do not go to bed mad.
10. Play - Be silly and have fun.
11. Talk about everything - even the hard stuff. Share your feelings when they are small and manageable.
12. Say "I love you" everyday.
13. Say "I love you" - and mean it.
14. Laugh together.
15. Cry together.
16. Share secrets.
17. Call each other through the day...just because.
18. Take the television and the laptop out of the bedroom. And the smart phone.
19. Remember the "first 4 minutes of contact rule" - The first 4 minutes of contact in the morning or when you come home sets the tone for the rest of the day/evening. Make sure it is good.
20. Remove certain words from your vocabulary ... like divorce and hate.
I am happy for my son, my future daughter in law, my niece and her future husband. Regardless of where I am - I am still a believer in the dream of "happily ever after".
And I wish for both of these couples their own fairy tale.