My heart is the doubting type.
A recent personality test pegged me as a logical idealist.
It is no wonder then that the fifty-percent failure rate of current marriages has put me into the category of thirty-somethings who have resigned themselves to the likelihood that we will be the eternal aunties of the world; engaged and successful in our lives, but knowing that we could never commit to this statistically unsuccessful business called marriage.
However, my idealistic inclinations continue to creep in, hoping that there is a fun and easy way to create and sustain an intimate relationship that might just end (or begin) in marriage.
As a nurse-to-be I have had the fortune of interviewing my patients at their hospital bedside. As I get them ready for their day, or tuck them into bed at night, my subjects rarely realize that they are part of my informal research project.
The project is designed to convince the doubting type of the possibility of creating true love, and then safely ushering this love into a beautiful and successful thing called marriage.
Here are the top ten words of advice for a successful marriage, as told by my patients:
1. You have to work at it.
Something that I hear over and over again is “choose wisely.” One couple that I interviewed acknowledged that the success in their fifty-plus years of marriage was due to a mixture of luck and an ongoing, working commitment. Wisdom, luck, and hard-work seem to provide the winning combination.
2.Finance need not take on it’s own entity.
Sex and money–we all know these topics can break even the best couples. One of the happiest couples I have spoken with suggested keeping finances separate as, a means to avoid this predictor all together. They had a shared account from which they pay their basic bills from, but beyond that they rely on individual accounts for discretionary spending.
Laugh at yourself and let others join in too. I am a firm believer that couples who laugh together stay together, and my patients reiterate this time and time again.
4. Never go to bed angry.
Simmering in our negative emotions only brews more trouble. This coincides with another theme I hear: take stock of what you have. At the end of the day, when you weigh the good with the bad, where do the two of you stand? Usually when we’re angry we have forgotten gratitude.
5. Care for one another.
My patients remind me never to underestimate small acts of love—flowers, sweet notes, offering a night off from the kids, a favorite meal, taking the extra minute to give a hug. As we become more set in our ways and complacent in our relationships we can let these small acts falter, but they just might be the layer of glue that holds it all together.
6. Lead both independent and married lives.
The humdrum of married life and routine can be avoided when we find the ability to be happy and successful while apart. Couples who express unique interests in life consistently appear more satisfied in their relationships, and they show much less tension.
7. Know when to shut up and when to let things go.
It’s okay to get angry with each other, but the point is not to hold your partner hostage with your emotions and resentments. Stone-walling your partner is a major deal breaker. Proving that you are right is a double-edged sword. You may find your effort wears down the fabric that binds.
8. Accept one another.
While we may secretly hope that our knight in shining armor will not leave his dirty clothes or dishes lying around, talk too loudly at a social gathering, or break plans in order to go out of town for a last minute get away with friends, the truth is that true love can be found amidst the most obnoxious of human traits. The secret is a willingness to let go and to forgive ceaselessly.
9. Take it one day at a time.
It takes real courage to wake up every morning and recommit to a life with another person. One woman confessed to me that when she lays down for bed at night she often rolls over to watch her husband as he loudly snores, and says to herself: yes, this is where I want to be. I couldn’t have asked for better. That is true commitment.
10. Know that it isn’t always going to be easy.
This one might be the kicker for most of us who have it so ingrained in us that love is a state of constant, overflowing happiness and delight. It appears this might be quite far from the truth. As was told to me recently:
Funny, yes, but how many of us live in this unattainable la-la land of hopeless expectation, forever yearning for our partner to fill our inner voids?
My hard working heart wanted to hear something more profound, but how could I argue with these sweet souls, living love by example and using these simple guides?
Could it be that we’re making the whole thing more complicated than it needs to be? What if the truth is anchored in care and simple agreements, and above all a great sense of humor? Even I could sign up for that.
If anything, seeing through the eyes of my patients has opened my heart to see that love is possible, and that we can each pave our own unique path to it.
While I can’t say for sure if marriage is in the stars for me in this life, I can say that I will continue to muse about it as I nurture the reminiscing hearts of my patients.
This piece was submitted by Glue supporter Lorissa ArgoRay
Editor: Jennifer Cusano
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