For Better or For Worse
Anyone who is married has repeated those words...for better or for worse. For most of us, when those words are uttered the worse can't even be imagined. You are in love, you can't imagine ever feeling differently than you do right then. And yet chances are that many times throughout your married life, your love will be tested and challenged. You may have to face losing your job, financial hardship, illness, a serious accident, the death of a loved one or infidelity.
Marriage is tough. Don't get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of marriage and of love. But after being married for almost 20 years, I can tell you that marriage is full of ups and downs. Some days are better, some are worse. It is easy to be married during the good times, when things are going well. The challenge lies in making your marriage last through the difficult times. It is these times that test our love and our commitment, that threaten to undo our promise to love, honor and cherish.
While many of us spend our time trying to avoid conflict, it is the disagreements, the difficulties that can bring us closer and create a stronger bond with our partner. Couples who have been married for many years will tell you, it isn't that they have lived blessed and easy lives, but that during the hard times they chose to stay the course, to dig in their heels and see it through.
How do you do this?
Communication is the cornerstone to all relationships. Don't let things you are unhappy about go unsaid. Talk about what is bothering you and be willing to listen to what is bothering your partner. See: Tips For Having a "Difficult" Conversation with Your Partner
Remember the saying, "This too shall pass." Marriage was once described as a roller coaster and it certainly is. But as all roller coaster rides go, you don't stay down for long. You sometimes need to hang on for dear life but sooner or later, the car starts uphill again. When faced with problems that seem insurmountable, keep in mind that with hard work you can overcome most of life's obstacles. See: The Relationship Workout
Agree to disagree. Disagreements and arguments have a way of undermining our belief in one another. A strong relationship doesn't seem so strong when you are fighting. But remember that you will never agree with your partner all the time. You have your opinion and he has his. Sometimes you will need to compromise or find neutral ground. Other times you simply need to accept that you disagree but can respect each other's opinion. See: How to Argue with Your Lover
Throw away the score card. Admit it, you keep score and your partner probably does too. This might be over trivial things, such as how many times you did the dishes this week or how many times you drove the kids to activities or you might keep track how much you believe you invest into the relationship (and you probably see yourself investing much more than your partner does.) Score cards usually end up with one partner blaming the other and creating resentment. Remember that both you and your spouse contribute to your relationship, usually in different ways. Appreciate your differences and the uniqueness of each other's way of giving.
Make being together a priority. Too often, couples, especially after children enter the picture, forget to spend time together or they put off going out on a "date" because of financial reasons, tiredness or no longer see couple time as a priority. Set aside time each week to spend several hours as a couple (not a family) to reconnect. See: Cheap Date Ideas
Give each other space. Togetherness is a wonderful thing. Sharing ideas, hobbies and spending time together brings you closer. But too much togetherness may make one or both of you feel smothered. Make sure each person has their own interests and activities. Not only does this make you a more interesting person, it gives you something to talk about when you are together.
Have sex on a regular basis. There is no magic number as to how often you should have sex per week or month, but sharing physical intimacy helps you feel emotionally connected with your spouse. No matter how often you have sex, make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with it - neither partner should feel forced and neither partner should feel neglected. Talk about what is comfortable and acceptable to both of you. See: Is My Sex Life Normal?
Say "I love you" often. There is nothing so wonderful as having someone tell you he (or she) loves you. You may believe your partner knows how you feel and that you don't need to say it. But it is important to remind your spouse of how much he or she means to you.
Compliment your spouse - everyday. When was the last time you gave your spouse a compliment? When was the last time you showed your appreciation for him or her? If it has been a while, look around for opportunities every day to say something nice. It could be a simple, "you look nice today" before you both head out the door in the morning. Or you could thank him for doing something around the house. Giving compliments not only makes your spouse feel better but reminds you of the reasons you fell in love.
There is no easy way to get through a marriage and there is no magic cure when things are spiraling downwards. It is hard work to just make it through the day and when things are tough the last thing you want to do is to be nice to your spouse. You may not want to be the first one to break the silence, believing you are "right." During the good times - the "better" - you probably do most of the things listed here without thinking. It is during the rough times - the "worse" - you have to remind yourself to do them - even when you don't feel them - and hang on for dear life until the roller coaster starts back uphill.
These suggestions come from many years of being married and still, after all this time, being hopelessly in love with my husband.
Published On: April 04, 2012