My wife and I just recently celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. She suggested that I write about ten things I have learned in the last ten years. I have been thinking back over our relationship and what I have learned. Once I compiled my thoughts, I realized that many of these lessons transcend marriage and will work for any relationship.
Marriage is a great institution! It has existed as long as people have been on the earth. Studies have shown time and time again how it impacts the well being of children and the community as a whole. I think there is too much divorce these days. We know a lot of marriages end in divorce, though the actual statistics worldwide are a little murky. Now I do believe that there are times when a divorce is the only answer for those involved. But, I also think if people are willing to put in a little work and sacrifice and learn a few lessons they can have a happy and successful marriage.
For many generations, gents have wanted to grow up and get married and have a family. We are wired to be protectors and providers. We want to take care of a wife and children. The reality is marriage can be a tough job. There are good times and bad, sickness and health, triumph and tragedy, high roads and low roads. In my own marriage, we have had our fair share of struggles and yet we are tremendously happy. I am a blessed man to have a wonderful wife, who is my very best friend, and three fantastic children to teach me lessons.
As I have looked back, there are a few things I have learned something about that I feel can help any marriage or relationship. These are things that I am not perfect at, but they have made a difference. I hope you will find some value in what I share here.
1) Communication. I could just make this a list of one item. Being able to talk to each other is so critical to happiness. Real communication is listening to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it, as well as being able to say what you need to say. Talk about everything. Involve each other in what is going on. Don’t assume things. That can be a dangerous path to go down because it leads to misunderstandings and poor communication.
2) Be open to feedback. This a tough one for most everyone. We don’t want to hear negative things about ourselves. Keep an open mind though as you may be doing something that the other person doesn’t like. Because you love them you want to be your best self and they may be trying to help you do that. Take the feedback and study on it to see if there is a change needed.
3) Time together is sacred. We live in a busy world. If you have kids it is even more busy. It can be tempting to bring the office home with you and work at night. Do your best to avoid this. You need time together as a couple and it should be free from other distractions. Your relationship will grow deeper as you shut out the rest of the world and focus on each other.
4) Selflessness. In marriage there is no room for selfishness. You have to put the other persons needs ahead of your own. If you both do this then there will always be happy days. Plus, if you think about why you go to work, or take care of yourself, or do anything, it will come to you that it is for your family.
5)Empathy. A great skill to develop is to feel what the other person is feeling. If your wife had a hard day, you can feel that and respond accordingly by taking extra good care of her. She will do the same for you in return. Gaining empathy will not only help you at home, but will make you a much better man.
6) Forgiveness. People are not perfect and thus there will be plenty of things to forgive. Sometimes it may be something big, though most of the time it is just little things. Forgiveness will stop you from holding a grudge and driving a wedge into your relationship.
7) Traditions. Traditions are important and you probably had some growing up. We have formed our own family traditions and they are hopefully something our children will look back on with fondness. Plus, traditions bring a sense of stability to things.
8) Laughter really is the best medicine. Laugh a lot! Laughter in your home will chase away problems and issues faster than anything else. Life is supposed to be happy and marriage should be filled with whimsical times.
9) You have to work at it. Marriage is work. A good one requires hard work. Too many people have a fairy tale image of what marriage is going to be like, only to be disappointed when it turns out differently. You have to stay committed to each other and to the relationship. In marriage you get out of it exactly what you put into it. You have to work at each other’s happiness and comfort.
10) Go with the flow. There are many ups and down in life and all kinds of things will happen. You must be flexible and able to adapt to the situation and with how the other person is adapting to it. This comes easily to some and others it is not in their nature. Nevertheless, being able to adapt to what life throws at you is a great way to keep a marriage smoothly sailing through troubled waters.
Life is a funny thing sometimes. With a marriage we will be able to experience life to it’s fullest and share that with someone. Take what you will from these things that I have learned. They are starting to serve me well as I try to focus more on them and how to use them.
If you have ideas or things you have learned , please feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.