Many have wondered what the secret is to a happy and successful marriage. They have asked family and friends, sages and gurus. They have sought the answers in religion and romance movies, in dreams
and in snatches of conversation overheard from strangers.
The simple truth is there is no universal secret. There is no standardized set of governing rules set in place to ensure a happy and successful marriage. The solid, simple truth is, your marriage is what you make it, and any rules governing marital behavior should be determined only by you and your spouse.
Of course, there are some common sense items that need to be invoked, such as open and honest communication between you and your spouse, no cheating on your spouse, etc. But these are not the rules I’m referring to in this article. The rules I intend to discuss pertain more so to the various perceptions of a proper marriage as dictated by family and friends, who all have their own views on marriage and will happily share their wisdom with you as though they were the keepers of great knowledge.
A large problem I see with the concept of marriage is the actual meaning of marriage as shared by much of the population. Too many view the ritual of marriage as a form of success and status that must be attained by a certain age, thereafter followed by children as the next logical step. Many of you have undoubtedly uttered to yourself or to acquaintances that you will soon be a certain age, so perhaps it is time to get married soon.
If that is what you think, then I’m afraid you are looking to get married for the wrong reasons. Marriage at any age should be about strengthening the bonds of love, and pledging yourself wholly to someone else who feels the same way about you. One should not be seeking marriage; one should be seeking someone to love, followed by marriage.
As you reach a certain age, you will undoubtedly feel pressure from family and friends to settle down and get married, especially if many around you have already tied the knot. Religions often promote marriage for the sole purpose of starting a family, with less emphasis on love.
Many will make jokes and tell you that life ends with marriage. Pity them, for they have fallen into a trap of their own mind. They have chosen to believe the perceptions of others, rather than dictate the terms of their own marriage with their spouse. They will tell you that after marriage, you should not be going out with friends anymore, unless you do it as couple. They may tell you that you must give up frequenting dance clubs, or playing video games, or spending so much money on DVDs, or that you must spend all your time with your spouse and cease any activities that you formerly did alone, such as reading a good book, working on the computer, or bike riding.
My wife and I love each other very much. We are both in our early-30s. Neither one of us was actively seeking to get married. Neither one of us is ready to have children yet. We share chores equally, we both work, and we both spend time with friends when it pleases us. We both take some time alone to do things we enjoy when necessary. We both share ample amounts of time doing a wide range of activities that we both enjoy together.
We, as a couple, have heard the advice and interpretations of marriage from many, but ultimately, it is we, and we alone, that have determined what works best for us, and as a result, we have a very happy, very successful marriage, and I am certain it will remain so in the many years to come.
Friends and family often mean well, and often become insulted when you don’t heed their advice. What people often fail to realize is that every marriage will be different, and what works for one marriage will not necessarily work for another. Your parents may possess an old-fashioned ideology of marriage, in which they believe that the man should work, and the woman should do the housework. Your married friends may be surprised that you still go to dance clubs, as they believe such an activity to be for singles.
Thank your friends and family for their advice, and perhaps consider it if it seems like particularly good advice. Then ignore it. Should you blatantly listen to anyone else but your own spouse, you will be setting forth rules for your marriage as dictated by someone else’s beliefs and marriage experience, not your own. This is often a major factor in marital troubles and marital bliss slowly dissolving away. This is not your parent’s marriage. This is not your friend’s marriage. This is a marriage between you and your spouse. This is new, uncharted territory, and you and your spouse must navigate the waters together.
As communication is a major key to happiness in a successful marriage, you must communicate with your spouse at a very early point what you expect in a marriage, and ask your spouse to do the same. Together, you can best determine what rules, if any, need be applied to your marriage, and how you can coexist happily and successfully, in love, while remaining respectful of each other’s wishes. Good luck.