On that beautiful enchanting day, you and the love of your life exchange standard wedding vows, which have been practiced throughout generations. “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance. . .” (language will vary based on religious ritual). After pledging your lives into holy matrimony, your are sent off into the world to figure it out.
You soon come to realize, everyone seems to have an opinion of marriage and what it takes to make it last forever, from the bachelorette to your best friends. I’ve even had a few clients tell me their keys to success.
Here are a few common beliefs shared with me by clients:
- Sharing the same views as your hubby/wife will keep conflict low
- Having the same circle of friends with your spouse builds longevity
- Marrying your opposite is the answer to having the best of both worlds
- Placing God first in your marriage will results in a long and prosperous relationship.
Over the 30 years and meeting with hundreds of couples maneuver through relationship challenges, I have found there is no cut and dry answer to what really makes a relationship work. Every person brings his or her own life history- good or bad into the mix. There is some truth in “Finding your Mr./Mrs. Right”, so that you marry the right person for you.
By now I know you are saying “Shirley, Set Me Straight” – in other words, “give us the tea.” Here it is. . .there are some basic concepts that do help couples survive and thrive, while learning to love, growing together and move forward with time. For conversation sake, let’s call them, “Things Married Folks Don’t Tell Their Single Friends” about marriage:
- Figure out your own strongholds. In other words, be sure that you are really good with your strengths and weaknesses.
- Figure out what keeps you from being happy and whole before inviting someone else into the mix. Many people marry half of a person. Let me explain. People who are not whole tend to look for other people who will complete them. The saying, “You complete me” may be romantic, but it is also dysfunctional!
- Confront your own demons. Get counseling for red flag behaviors such as possessiveness, selfishness, codependency on mom or dad and the list could go on.
- Shake that family tree. For real, be sure you know all the good, bad and ugly of each other’s family and how they function. Many conflicts have centered on extended family dynamics that were never confront in the family. If you are a child of a alcoholic, keep in mind you may experience animosity or resentment regarding neglect or be overly needy. Know what you are getting into. Don’t think things are going to change now that you are in love! Love is only as good as the level of sacrifice you are willing to experience.
- Look past the avatar. Everyone at some point will have to reveal his or her real self. Remember that movie- Avatar. In the avatar suit, the guy could run, jump and fight. However, as soon as he was out of his avatar suit, you see his real self in a wheelchair. Once the avatar suit is off, find out if you can live the rest of your life with someone who has some crippling challenges in his or her life.
- Face the facts. Everyone, and yes I mean everyone has issues. So if you are looking for a perfect- flaw free man or woman, what would you do? Facts, you yourself would need to be flawless and I am not talking about your makeup on fleek!
- Find your fairytale and live in its reflection everyday. It is the authentic beauty of relationships. The best mirror you will ever own will be the one who loves you the most in spite of yourself.
With at least 50% of marriages ending in divorce, we need to take a real look at what it means to be in relationship, while acknowledging how premarital counseling can help. Look for more content regarding this subject of marriage, as I explore more truths about relationships in future blogs, videos and “Shirley, Set Me Straight” chat sessions. Visit www.lwpc-wa.com to keep up with the latest tops and relationship advice.