When it comes to marriages, there’s a lot of advice out there about what you should do differently or how you can make your marriage healthier, more fun, and long-lasting. However, a lot of marital satisfaction has more to do with your attitude and the attitude of your spouse rather than anything else. Keeping your attitude in the right place can help you to have realistic expectations of your relationship and can improve marital satisfaction.
Regardless of how you see other couples behave around each other or whatever perception you have about marriage, there are some things you need to keep in mind once you’ve gotten married and started your practical married life.
- Marriage isn’t Always Equal
Marriage isn’t perfect balance. It’s a balancing act. At times you’ll shoulder more of the household chores or work longer hours or change more diapers. Then things will change. Sometimes your relationship will be a 50/50 split. Other times it will be 10/90. Be flexible. This is hard because when you have the flu and you still have to get up and get the kid to school because your husband is on a business trip, you’re going to be angry. It’s going to feel unfair, but marriages aren’t fair every minute — they can’t be. The goal is to have a marriage that’s fair in the long run.
- All Couples Have Problems
All couples have differences and that’s not a bad thing. If marriage were really easy, it wouldn’t help us grow as individuals or as a couple. The way you address your problems is what has the capacity to be a problem. Learning how to negotiate, cope and work together can make your marriage stronger.
- Use your words
Words are powerful things. Criticism is destructive and hurtful, but loving and honest observations are necessary if you’re really going to communicate with your partner. Before you say something critical or challenging, ask yourself why you’re saying it, what you hope to accomplish by saying it and how you would feel if it was said to you. If your words are meant to explain, gain understanding, work toward a common goal or meaningful change, heal, or grow, go ahead. Otherwise, keep quiet.
- Intimacy is Built Over Time
Work on growing your intimacy and marriage over time. Sometimes couples feel the relationship grows stale and they think they know everything there is to know about their partner. However, there are always opportunities to learn more. Look for new opportunities to grow closer as a couple and you’re intimacy can continue to grow throughout the years.
- Perfect Marriages Don’t Exist
Everyone’s marriage is different because the people in it are different. If you want a “traditional” marriage, go for it. If you want to live in separate houses connected by an underground tunnel and see each other only on weekends, that’s fine too. Don’t let other people judge or undermine your relationship because they aren’t in it. That being said, don’t accept a marriage that doesn’t fulfill you because it looks good to outsiders.
- Marriage is about Growing Together
When one partner takes up a new interest, the other is not only supportive but becomes interested as well. This growing and sharing have been shown to be linked to happy and long-lasting marriages. So when your partner finds a new TV show or hobby they really like, why not try it and see if you get hooked on it too? Even better, sign up for activities that you both can enjoy – a language or cooking class, dance lessons, Zumba meets, etc. Sharing and caring is what makes marriages stronger.
- Making Marriage a Priority is Healthy
Sometimes kids, money, extended family, social relationships begin to take up so much time that there’s little room for the marriage. However, if your marriage is not healthy, your parenting, your relationships with other people, your income, and your job are at risk of being negatively impacted. Put your marriage at the top of your priority list. Make time for your spouse and work together on your goals. Don’t give in to any feelings of guilt if you spend time with your spouse. What could be more important?
- Marriage is a Leap of Faith
Marriage is a leap of faith, a tumbling into the unknown with another person for the rest of your days. Trust that the person you’re jumping off the cliff with believes in you loves you and wants what’s best for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Learn to open up to them about your aspirations as well as your fears. And understand that this new dynamic is as scary for them as it is for you.
- Marriage isn’t ONLY about Having Kids
If you marry young, wait to have kids. Give yourself some time to learn to be a married couple before you add infants to the mix. Get to know your partner as well as you can before you have a little one who divides your attention. Before you have kids, you need to build the right foundation for your marriages without distractions so that when the distractions come, they’re ready for them.
- Marriage is Fun
You just married the one person you can’t imagine living without. You get to spend the rest of your life with this person — enjoy it! Stay up late, eat decadent meals, travel, go to the movies, tell bad jokes, and read the paper in bed. Life was good before, but it gets infinitely better when you’ve agreed to stick together in sickness and in health, for good times and bad. Enjoy the ride.