Building A Strong Marriage Step 3: Work Your Marriage Every Day

16 Feb

So you followed Steps 1 & 2 and you’ve successfully found a partner willing to tie the knot. You worked on yourself and attracted members of the opposite sex. You met many prospects and picked one that was not only doing the same but appears to have a compatible personality and lifestyle and you’ve fallen in love. Hard work has resulted, as it so often does, in good fortune.

The hard part is done, right?

Not by a long shot. I know it took you years to get here; however, keep in mind, that you will be married longer than you were a single adult. Even the smoothest journey through life has many miles of rough road ahead.

If everything goes well, marriage will give you plenty of joy and comfort. It will help you feel confident and give your life a sense of stability that frees you to take risks in other areas of life. You have an advocate, an ally and a friend to help you through difficult times and help with the burdens life heaps onto your shoulders, not to mention all of the physical and emotional comfort that comes from love, sweet love.

But even a great relationship is also a source of stress. Your partner will bring along habits and idiosyncrasies that you may not have noticed that could annoy you one day. You’re not really a free person now that someone else’s needs and tastes must be considered for before every action. You’re now living with someone who might want or need to talk when you’re really in the mood for some quiet time alone. You now have perform your role as husband or wife at all times. Luckily, that’s what learning to become an adult was all about. Now it’s time to put the lessons into practice for real. It’s your show.

But wait, there’s more! Today, you face the modern dilemma that feminism will make you feel like are more the just the two of you in this relationship. Feminism doesn’t just “empower women”; it also empowers other people to stick their noses into other people’s relationships. It empowers people to criticize the way you talk, the way you divide chores, what you watch on TV and every other aspect of your marriage. Feminism proclaims that the personal is political and there will be no peace within a marriage. Even if none of your friends are infected with feminism (boy are you lucky), the television and other media bombard messages into your home about how stupid, incompetent and mean men are and how marriage is boring and outdated. If this

So you know how navigate this world. How do you navigate your own relationship?

I credit Greg Swann with saying “Do you want to end the day married? Start the day married!” This idea has guided much of my thinking toward my own marriage and, I have to say, it has helped me keep committed to making it work. I keep reminding myself that to make a marriage work, I must work my marriage.

So what does it mean to work your marriage? It doesn’t mean sweating a lot. But, it does mean, firstly, that you should take care of your basics. Get things done around the house, clean up after yourself and take care of your maintenance duties. It means having an income and pursuing your career. It means putting down the phone and talking to your spouse. It means putting your family before your blog – notice how rarely I publish a blog entry. It means playing board and card games with your kids – keep in mind that mind-numbing games of Go Fish and Old Maid turn into enjoyable games of Euchre and Gin Rummy when they’re older. It means biting your tongue when you’re grumpy and want to say something mean, taking a breath and thinking about a nice thing to say.

Working your marriage, most importantly of all, means giving your attention to your marriage. Listen when your wife or husband talks. Make an effort to do something fun together.

It is knowing that there are 3 kinds of love in a life-long relationship. It all started when you were hot for each other and eros filled your every thought. Then, the passion faded but another type of love entered the mix. You learned about each other and learned to respect their inner qualities and want to see them flourish and be happy. This is called Agape. Finally, as your lives intertwine, your long-term, committed love develops. Greeks called this Storgic Love. This is the love of commitment, trust and fidelity. The love of family. It is a love with a duty to sustain the bond. You’ll appreciate this love when the worry over your bills piling up give you heart-burn and wake you up in the middle of the night.

While the first two types of love are less enduring than this storgic love of family, it doesn’t mean that they completely fade. Passion is fleeting but it can return again and again to your marriage as long as the other two types of love remain strong and you’re paying attention. Life is a long arduous process. Your bedroom life may take a back seat, now and then, to the stresses that family life doles out. Then, a fun trip to somewhere warm or overcoming a stressful event suddenly sparks a fiery return of eros. If you’re both taking care of yourselves and each other, the energy and attraction will continue.

Keep in mind that there is ebb and flow in your life that affects your marriage. If you get discouraged, you might feel emotionally detached from your spouse. Make extra effort to make a connection. Don’t go hide in your “Man Cave”. Go sit on the couch beside your wife and make an effort to be together. It’s ok for him to watch the game and her to watch a medical drama but maybe you should also choose a TV series to stream.

A marriage is like a sail boat. With basic daily maintenance, it can provide a fun-filled journey. If you neglect it, your trip will end in disaster.

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