Here are some insights, straight from the mouths of women who have made marriages last—and a few who haven’t but wish they had:
Don’t start talking about a serious thing either right before dinnertime or right before bed. That’s the wrong time. If you can, the right time is after a good breakfast or lunch. Then you have the rest of the day to work it out.
If you really want to make a change, and you know that your spouse doesn’t particularly like that change, start talking about it a long time in advance. Plant the seeds, and pretty soon it becomes the other person’s decision.
Don’t expect the other person to complete you. You must be complete, your spouse must be complete, and then you create another entity that is your marriage.
The reason for success in marriage is caring—caring enough about the other person to rein yourself in occasionally.
A lot of it is expectation. In our generation, this was your husband for life. This wasn’t something that was just for a few years or that you tried out. This was something you worked at.
Sometimes, it strengthens the marriage if you spend some time apart.
I learned that I couldn’t expect him to be who I wanted him to be. I needed to find out who he is, let him know who I am, and help him to see that.
Realize it’s not your responsibility to make life perfect for the whole family.
Recognize that the two of you will grow at different rates. Rather than being threatened by this, it would be helpful for partners to acknowledge the reality and be interested in what the other is learning.
Life partners are usually worthy adversaries calling us to growth; that’s one reason why we chose them.
It’s a matter of adjusting to each stage and age.
The best way to preserve marriage is for married people to honor their spouses and their vows. Also important are what the Dalai Lama terms the three Rs: respect for self, respect for others, and responsibility for one’s own actions. I’d add another R—remembering what we loved about each other when we decided to get married.
When I look at how few marriages succeed now, I think finding your love is the most important thing you can do. Don’t be distracted by the fun of sex too soon.
Who knew, in our twenties, that we would be able to stand each other for so long?