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Any advice for a good marriage?

I just got married at 23. Are we supposed to be happy all the time?

Marriage isn’t a fairy tale, says our elder. It takes work – but it is well worth the effort.

 

Dear EWC

My husband and I just got married four months ago after being together for three years. Everyone tells me that being married and dating are different which I guess is true. This is our first time living together and it’s been OK except we have been getting on each other’s nerves lately. We’re 23 so we’re pretty young and still learning about this marriage thing. Are married people supposed to be happy all the time and be lovey dovey all the time? What is marriage supposed to be like? Both of us come from families where our parents are divorced which kind of scares us. Are there any tips or advice someone can give us so we have a good marriage that can last forever? Is marriage like it is on the Hallmark channel or in fairy tales? Do married couples tell little lies such as saying you like someone’s cooking when you really don’t or is the man supposed to tell his wife how beautiful she is every morning? Thank you to whoever takes the time to read this and offer their knowledge to us! 

 

Hedwig replies

Here goes – answers to all the good questions you posed:

Are married people supposed to be happy all the time and be lovey dovey all the time? No. When you lived at home with your parents was everyone happy all the time? You are human. Sometimes you will be tired. Sometimes you will be grumpy. Sometimes you will have menstrual cramps. Only a moron could be continually happy.

What is marriage supposed to be like? It is supposed to be like a partnership. It should be like living with your best friend plus sex. You should try to pull together and encourage each other. And you should keep the lines of honest communication open. Everything can be discussed.

Are there any tips or advice someone can give us so we have a good marriage that can last forever? Nothing lasts forever without work. Before I got married, I asked my future husband to promise me that if there ever was a time when either one of us felt things were not going well, we would seek out a marriage counselor. I wanted him to promise this because often women want to get professional help, but men are unwilling. In our 27-year marriage (before he died), we went three times, and each was helpful.

We also went to a marriage encounter run by the Catholic church (although we are not Catholic) and they had a wonderful system. The priest talked about general problems and then asked as a question – something like how you would handle child rearing, or a family situation to consider. He gave us hypothetical situations. We went back to our room and each began writing our answers into our own book. When we were finished, we read our answers to each other and discussed what we learned. We learned that we would not always handle situations the same way, and we then talked about that. When we met with the group again, we talked about what we had learned about each other. It was a terrific, awakening experience.

Is marriage like it is on the Hallmark channel or in fairy tales. No, it is not. To me, it was far more appreciated that my husband would get up at night to care for a sick child then if he would bring me roses. Loving actions spoke far louder than words.

Do married couples tell little lies such as saying you like someone’s cooking when you really don’t. Yes, you give the common courtesies you would give to a stranger. After I cooked tuna fish casserole about once a month for a year, my husband finally got up the courage to tell me he hated hot tuna.

Is the man supposed to tell his wife how beautiful she is every morning? No, would you even believe him? Are you beautiful in the morning? I am not. Is your husband handsome? What about rumpled hair and un-brushed teeth? And would you only want to be loved for what is skin deep. It is enough that he wants to wake up next to you – no matter how you look – and spend the rest of his life with you. And as you age – and whether you are fat or thin at any given time – you should be sure of this love.

Advice about quarrels. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Our first fight was about catsup. My husband’s mother kept hers in the cupboard; mine put it in the refrigerator. We came from different homes, different values. Another time, his niece got a finger caught in the door. He called their house many times during the day to see how she was. I did not call because I did not want to bother them (and besides, he told me she was OK), but his family criticized me and said I was cold. There is not just one way of doing things. Not everything is matter of right or wrong. Be open minded.

Marriage manuals say that most fights are about in-laws and money. This is true. My mother gave me one fabulous piece of advice: never criticize your husband to your family. You and he will make up, but your family may not so easily forgive and forget. So do not tell them your complaints. It will come back to bite you. Also, try not to go to bed angry.

I could write you a book of advice – and indeed I suggest that you read some. One that I found super helpful was Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus by Dr. Jack Grey. It talks about the differences in male and female communication and the misunderstandings that result.

So, I hope I have given you some things to think about. It can all be wrapped up in the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat him as you would like to be treated yourself and try to put him first – especially when something matters more to him than it does to you.

One last word. Life can be easy when it is just the two of you – it gets more difficult after you have children. But it is well worth all the effort!

You are starting out on the right foot by considering the best ways to make your marriage work. My husband died suddenly at age 55 of a heart attack. I have gone on to two other long-term relationships, one for 18 years until he also died and the last one (the companionship of our old age), for the past 16 years. Because what I realize now that I didn’t know when I was younger, is how special it is to be with a loved one, and that it may not last forever. I have regretted my earlier angers, complaints, and trivial disagreements, and I have learned to treat each of these men, better than I treated the one before, because I know how great the loss can be.

Article #: 472238

Category: Marriage

 

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