It is a little scary to have people tell you they admire your marriage. A huge compliment! but scary as well because we all know, married or not, how fragile relationships are. Sometimes I worry the admiration will jinx us. Relationships can turn in a instant, often when only one of you is aware and I know this from personal experience.
How many billions of people over the course of history have been blindsided by infidelity? How many surprised by their own affections turning toward someone other than their partner? Or from one or both somehow falling straight out of love with each other?
I have a strong marriage BUT I don't take for granted how easily things can change when people become so 'sure' they have a strong relationship that they feel no need to maintain it.
I have no business giving anyone marital advice I'm simply going to list what I think are the reasons I have found happiness after some interesting trial and error.
First, and possibly most important, he is my best friend and he was my best friend before we became a couple. It makes all the difference in marriage. Before marriage, passion counts. Typically, but not always, you have to be physically attracted to each other to generate interest. Once you're married and the everyday grossness and boredom of life creeps in (like taking care of each other when you have the flu, or helping plunge the toilet, or tag team cleaning diarrhea off a child, or tooting when you lean in to kiss each other, or realizing that you actually are at Home Depot and/or Bed Bath and Beyond on a Saturday, and thus just a razors edge away from breaking down and streaking through the quad to start off your mid-life crisis) THEN when all this has occurred friendship, comfort, and the ability to laugh at life together will matter more than passion. It will have to! Because bodily malfunctions and double-crosses increase exponentially with age. It truly gets so ridiculous and gross that you will want to leave yourself at times...or maybe that's just me.
Second-Passion. I said it counts before marriage and I stand by that. It should be strong enough to withstand the above mentioned situations along with a whole host of others. Not just funny situations but hard ones. Things like sickness, losing your hair, being unable to have sex, gaining weight, losing weight, job loss, job stress, kid stress, exhaustion, boredom, side effects from medications. It's hard to look at the person you may have once lusted after and not see them anymore, I mean really not see them because they are droopy or heavier, wrinkled etc...Holding onto passion while you each individually deteriorate or fall apart is wicked hard and it happens to us all at some point.
It is a harsh reality of life that we will love each other and bear witness to the demise of our loved ones and ourselves.
So we keep touching. Once you stop hugging, holding hands, kissing, etc...it can be awkward to try and pick it back up. It is the first step in growing apart. I never understood why people didn't hold hands more. It's so simple and yet can be so powerful in keeping you both connected. I literally hang on my husband like an old coat. He comes in from work and I knock my kids to the ground to get to him first, jumping on like a spider monkey. He loves it;)
Next is knowing yourself and having faith in yourself. It seems obvious that we can't be good for one another if we aren't good for ourselves. There was a long period of time I wanted to be with my husband and he didn't feel the same. The problem wasn't that he didn't care, the problem was that he was all set with who he was and I was most definitely not. I had to find faith and ground myself, and when I did we came together. God knew the right time and that was it.
Too often people allow their significant other to define them, they don't know who they are on their own, can't stand on their own, they find themselves in the other person. But is that good? Who are you without the other person? Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship. I would be lost without my man, but not because I am lost myself. If you don't know yourself and have faith in yourself before joining in marriage with someone else, you will project your self doubt onto them. They will slowly become the cause for your lack of self worth. We may have a life together but my life is just that. It's my only go round the rock, and I'm sharing it with him. I have a strong faith in myself and that helps me have a strong faith in US.
Finally, and this is big, we keep things LIGHT. Playful, fun, humorous. Example: hubs and I are flat broke, and while he tends to be more depressive, I can always find the light. Case in point. Bank account overdrawn $27, made $38 in an impromptu garage sale. EPIC WIN. We are on the positive baby! Of course, I could weep and wallow about how on Earth we're going to pay this and that, get this and that, when will life get easier?? It's endless, it's life. I pinch his butt, he makes dirty comments only I can hear, we geek out over scifi, we tickle our kids. We have our down moments but they are few and far between. We have to keep it light, darkness comes easy for everyone. And while others may shake their heads at us, we don't shake them at each other. We count our blessings, and they are many, even if they aren't matched by dollars in the bank.
So that's it. or at least the big reasons that come to mind. Don't think for a second we don't do things that drive each other crazy. I won't even mention the vacuum he bought, and I'm sure he'd have a few complaints about things I have said or done. But nothing negative sticks because we don't let it.
One last thing I almost forgot:) A good friend shared a prayer for her daughter publicly on Facebook the other day that I thought was beautiful. She said "God please let my daughter find all the good people. Keep the drama, and the people who create drama out of her life, even if they are family." Indeed, don't let the drama of others seep into your marriage. This is something we try to avoid. Remember who you have to concern yourself with. You can be there for people as support without being part of their issues.
Issues are like Cancer, it may start in a specific place but it can spread quickly and to places you wouldn't have thought.
I always interpreted the vow "what God has brought together, let no man put asunder," to be a very powerful point often overlooked. To me it means that once you are partnered with another your main concern is each other. You are each others person and no one else may take their place, or pull you apart.
The rest is fluff.