My last post I offered my perspective on the key attributes to have and sustain a happy marriage. I also stated that I am by no means a marriage expert. In this post I will expand on my "novice" views by giving more details on my titled "dos", "don'ts" and "truths".
As a refresh, my so called "3 x 2" are:
2 x Don'ts
- Don't cheat (physically or emotionally)
- Don't mask your reality from your spouse
2 x Dos
- Have an attitude of commitment (and the actions should follow)
- Invest in communication (talking and listening)
2 x Truths
- Only the two in the marriage know the truth of the relationship
- Marriages evolve, individually and collectively, live in that truth
I will begin with the "don'ts" as though the "dos" can enhance your marriage, the don'ts can wreck it.
And the first is not cheating. Now, I know marriages that have overcome this hurdle. But I also know this is a high hurdle to overcome. This is often a crushing transgression in a marriage, either immediately or eventually. There are multiple reasons cheating occurs, and even if the husband appears to be fully satisfied with his wife, infidelity may occur and leave the wife befuddled and asking "why" or "how come?" And the physical may be preceded by the emotional. In fact, the emotional divorce can be a contributor to physical cheating. I will not dig into the basis nor the lead-up, but only say to any husband (and this is kind of a no-brainer), actively seek to avoid situations where you can go down that slippery slope. Condition setting, or more accurately, condition avoidance is a critical step. Existing in a happy and healthy marriage is arguably the first step, as one could posit that if the marriage is good then there would be no reason to cheat. I would agree, because though the immediate response may be "I don't know," the reality is we always know (we just may not admit it).
The other "don't" is difficult because it involves making yourself vulnerable. Masking your reality -- meaning your fears, weaknesses, flaws, sadness and insecurities -- keeps you from leaving yourself open in ways most are not comfortable. And even when we swear before God to love our wife "until death does us part," the sharing of such intimate parts or pieces of ourselves to another may be outside our comfort zone. I encourage you to fight this. I acknowledge this may take years, but trying to mask your reality is burdensome, and makes explaining things about yourself difficult. And if you intend to share your existence with another for 30-40 years, living in the most natural state makes those years shorter (and more enjoyable) vice longer.
Next are the "dos", beginning with an attitude of commitment. I could replace attitude with mindset, but either way, you have to innately be committed to the union you signed up for. And if your attitude is fully invested in making this marriage work, then your decisions and actions will follow. One causes another to come to fruition. Early in our marriage we decided not to even say the word divorce as a representation of our mindset. Whatever is necessary, but have it ingrained and work towards ensuring that reality.
The next "do" is communication. This is a staple for any marital advice. And it is both talking (expressing your views, opinions, thoughts) and listening (arguably more important, but definitely as important). This includes all forms of communication (body language, unspoken and spoken topics, positive or negative energy, tone, looks and sounds), as well as the actual talking, responding, respecting, considering and doing what is said or agreed upon. Many struggle with communication, so investing in it must be at the forefront of both the husband and wife.
Lastly are the truths. My core tenant is that the truth is behind the bedroom door. Any couple can create the façade that "all is good" -- this can be portrayed to the children, parents, friends and family if each are committed to the mask. But at the end of the day, when there is no one else but the two of you, the reality of the relationship manifest - the good (if good), the bad and/or the ugly. So live in the that reality, not what everyone else sees (because you know what the deal is).
And the final truth is the evolution of the marriage. Depending on your age, you will mature at a certain rate. You will understand the life you lived and the life you can attain, simultaneously your spouse will experience the same thing. As such, the inter-relationship will evolve based on each of your maturation, growth, goals, expectations and demands. Don't fight this reality, recognize it and account for it from year to year and decade to decade.
That is my advice, for what it is worth, and hopefully there are some nuggets of value for you - even if you have a few decades under your belt.