What happened to “Happily Ever After”?
Summer will be here before you know it. Summer and I kinda have a love-hate relationship. It’s one of my least favorite seasons due to the ridiculously unbearable heat down here in Texas! On the other hand, one of the things I love most about summer is the fact that so many people choose this sunny season to get married. I have been to more summer weddings than I can count on both hands. I enjoy attending weddings- probably more than the average person. I like to see all the little details that go into the wedding ceremony and reception. I love it when people customize their weddings to match their personalities. I love to marvel at all the DIY decorations. Of course, my absolute favorite part is witnessing the bride and groom lovingly and happily entering into holy matrimony.
On wedding days, love just fills the air and emotions run high. The bride, the groom as well as family and friends may shed tears of joy during the ceremony. Everyone heads to the reception to help celebrate the newlyweds union. Old love burns anew reminding married couples of their own wedding day. Wedding days always seem to end so perfectly. You leave the venue smiling and thrilled for the happy couple. You can tell that the couple invested a lot of time and energy into preparing for the big day. But wait…. what about the actual marriage?!
Did you know that nearly half of all marriages in the US end in DIVORCE? Nearly half! That information always makes me really sad because I am a hopeless romantic. I know 6 couples who are getting married this summer. If I were to take these statistics into account, that would lead me to assume that at least 3 of these couples may end up divorcing each other in the future. How crazy is that?! I sat and pondered why this statistic is so high in America. One of the many reasons that I came up with is that couples do not invest the same amount of time and energy it takes to prepare for marriage as they do preparing for the wedding! People get caught up with the glitz and the glam of a wedding and neglect getting the blueprint for the “happily ever after”.
My husband and I invested in marriage counseling before we actually got married! Some people thought it was a bit unorthodox but we wanted to be certain that we were ready for the commitment we would be making to each other and to God. It was one of the best decisions that I ever made. We have also attended marriage conferences to maintain our relationship. Why wait until your marriage is broken to fix it? Give it routine maintenance along the way so that it can withstand the long journey.
There are a plethora of things that I see in today’s society that lead to some marriages failing. Here are a just a few things that I believe MARRIED COUPLES could change in order to strengthen their relationships.
DISCLAIMER: I have been happily married nearly 6 years but I don’t claim to be an authority on marriage. These are solely my opinions. You may agree or disagree and that is perfectly fine 🙂
1. Stop including everyone in your marriage! Oh my goodness! One would think that this is common sense but not everyone seems to get this principle. When you get married, you become one, a team, a unit, husband and wife (Mark 10:8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh). The only 3rd party that should be in your relationship is God-not mama, daddy, sister, brother, friends, cousins, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Every relationship has its ups and downs. It’s inevitable! You are 2 different people and sometimes you have differences in opinion. This is a normal fact of life but everyone does not need to know when you have a disagreement with your spouse. And dear Lord, please help people stop airing their dirty laundry on Facebook & Twitter! A marital argument should not be expressed via a status update for literally the whole WORLD to see. Before you post that message, stop to consider how ignorant will you look and embarrassed you will feel when you and your spouse resolve your issues. Not only will you have your family, friends, coworkers, church family, etc looking down on you for staying in what they now consider a tarnished relationship but now you have to go on the defense to try to strengthen your relationship and reputation. Why give people a front row seat to your drama? Think about the other people who could be affected by your post as well ( i.e. children, parents, etc). Once you post something, it lives on the internet forever so now you will have a constant reminder of the day you were angry at your spouse. Do yourself a favor, don’t do it.
2. Stop being spiteful. This was something that I had to learn early on in my own marriage. If your spouse does something that you don’t like that doesn’t give you the right to do it as well. I’m sure you may have heard the saying “2 wrongs don’t make a right” well this principle needs to be applied to your marriage as well. For example, let’s say your spouse goes out and buys a flat screen TV against your wishes. You are angry that they had such blatant disregard for your feelings about the purchase so you decide to go on a shopping spree spending the exact amount they spent on the TV. This is not justifiable. All your actions did was A) take more money out of your household budget B) further show your lack of respect for each other’s opinion and C) set a bad example for children or other people who may look up to you. Ask yourself: How will this make your marriage stronger? Now you’re mad at her and she’s mad at you…and for what? A TV and some clothes and shoes. It’s not worth it. Instead calmly express to your spouse how their decision made you feel and leave the situation alone. You would be surprised at how the feeling of disappointment has the power to convict people. After all, no one wants someone to be disappointed in them.
3. This will be my last point since this post is getting extremely long… learn to communicate effectively with your spouse! This is probably the most important aspect to having a great relationship. I have found that most of my issues with my amazing husband have occurred when we failed to communicate effectively. Either one of us talks and the other fails to listen OR one of us is so frustrated that we just shut down in the middle of a discussion or worse leaves the situation altogether. This is not an effective way to communicate. You will find during those times you can say things out of anger that you immediately regret or that something is lost in translation because you are so wrapped up in your own emotions that you don’t take into consideration the one you love. No matter what the old adage says, words can hurt. Be careful what you let come out of your mouth. (Remember: Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof -Proverbs 18:21). What you say can strengthen your relationship or bring it to an end. What my husband and I have learned to do is respect each other’s opinions. We sit down when we have a problem and try to talk it out respectfully. When one is talking, the other should be listening. After all, if 2 people are talking or yelling at the same time this equals no one being heard and no problems being resolved. There is no need for yelling and screaming to get a point across. Most of the time we come to realize that we are saying the same thing, just in different ways. Or we come to determine what we need to fix and make a mutual plan of action.
I said all of that because I love marriage and I want to see this disparity change. What I want newlyweds, engaged couples, couples in general to realize is that any relationship takes WORK! Marriages are no different. You don’t go to bed on your wedding night and awake everyday thereafter to a perfect marriage for the next 50 years. You have to be willing to do the work to maintain the happy in the here and now.
I could go on for days on this subject but I will stop here. For all you married, engaged, dating couples out there, I would love to hear your thoughts. My single friends you can chime in as well.
Until next post,