Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Mignon McLaughlin
I wrote this July 29, 2018, as my daughter was preparing to get married.
The secret of a happy marriage is not feeling blissfully in love every day. “And they lived happily ever after” is not a real thing. You go through the ups and downs of life. We run through the five stages of marriage over and over again.
Stage one – we all love this one. Falling in love, we’ve found our prince. Our beloved can do no wrong. They have quirks we love.
Stage two – those quirks become annoyances. We discover even more faults and foibles about them, and they annoy us even more.
Stage three – we decide what to do now that we realize we married a person, not a prince.
Stage four – this is the hard slogging of getting through our no longer romanticized life. We’ve taken off our rose-colored glasses; our Prince is now a frog.
Stage five – the reward for getting through all that hard stuff is somehow at some time we get a glimpse again of why we thought he was a prince. We fall in love all over again at a new level of intensity and commitment.
We are each one of us in one of these stages now. The secret to a long marriage is going through the stages over and over again.
Wouldn’t it be boring if it really was happily ever after? What if a day at the beach lasted for thirty years? No new adventures, no new discoveries, nothing learned, no personal growth. It is hard getting through tough times, it is nice looking back knowing we got through them together.
We can live with them and love it, we can live with them and hate it, or we can leave. What we all want to do, but can’t do is change them. It might be a good thing we can’t change people, we would change them to suit our whim instead of changing ourselves to become better people. There would be no growth for either of us.
Love is patient, love is kind, love is never giving up. Love is easy, love is hard, love makes the hard things better and the good things sweet.
If you are lucky enough in this life to find someone to love, love them, cherish them and be willing to go through the stages of life with them over and over again. How many people look back on a past relationship knowing they could have done more? If you are going to be in a marriage don’t think you get to skip the stages by getting out of one marriage and into another. If you always get out at stage three are you really getting anywhere?
All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest – never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive and brings to a marriage the principles of equal partnership. Ann Landers
Ann Landers is onto something here. We have to be able to talk things out. A silent marriage is a dying marriage. We need to be able to talk about the small things so they don’t become so big we can’t talk about them. Tiptoeing around the elephant, cleaning up its dodo and pretending it isn’t there is not healthy. Sometimes just like ripping off a band-aid, we just need to say what needs to be said. Then we can start anew. Not acknowledging a problem is a problem, you can fix it, you can live with it, you can laugh about it, but you can’t pretend it isn’t there and think it won’t affect your relationship.
I was one of the girls who read in a magazine, “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” I wasn’t one who was dying to get married. I’ve loved being married; I think my husband is the anchor to my balloon. We are more together than we are apart.
Someone asked me if I would want to renew my vows. I said, ”No, we meant them when we said them.” Renewing vows to me would be if something happened and we separated. Coming together again and renewing our vows would have meaning. To renew vows just to have a party. I’m not the starry-eyed bride, and unless we were to do something really stupid what we said then and meant, stands today. As a matter of fact, when my husband and I see couples renewing their vows over and over again we look at each other expecting a divorce in the future. We aren’t often wrong.
Some people have floated the idea of renewing commitments every five years. I’m horrified at the thought. How could anyone have any security in the marriage? How many marriages would be at one of the hard spots? Get married to the right person, and be the right person. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and say it with as much love and compassion as you can manage.
Marriage is a journey, not a destination. Saying “I do,” is just the beginning. We have to go forward committed to getting through the days, weeks, months, years that follow with as much humor, compassion, and love as possible.
A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. Dave Meurer
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