It is a universal sentiment. But there can be hassles, problems, confusion and heartburns. It is inevitable because it is basically two people living together. So differences of opinion, beliefs, attitude, wishes, like/dislikes, etc will be there. So how does a married couple handle these issues and try to have a rich and meaningful marriage?
There are many issues in a marriage that have to be handled. The couple has to be aware of these issues and try to handle them to the benefit of both. The giver and taker in both should be satisfied; otherwise there will be frustration and unhappiness.
The most important stone in the foundation of a marriage is respect. Respect should be there for each other, for both are equal in a marriage and there should be respect for each other’s families, ideas, thoughts, opinions and feelings. Without respect, the foundation is not secure; the marriage can wobble any time.
When there is no respect, it hits at the core of the person. The self-respect, and self-esteem will be hurt, and the damage cannot be undone easily. Accept each other as equal partners and as each one is, and also understand each other.
Remember it is never easy to change another; it is easier to change oneself. So do not impose any restrictions, discuss all disturbing behavior and let the partner know what is bothering you. Maybe the partner is not aware of the annoying trait he/she has, and may be surprised. And hope he/she will change or discard the annoying habit. If your partner loves you and respects your feelings, then he/she will change. But also remember, there will be other traits that will annoy you, and he/she will not be able to change. It will be too ingrained a habit, then you will have to see how you can accommodate it.
Discuss finance matters openly. Let each other know what your income is, how much savings you have, what savings or investments are to be done, whether long term or short term or both, who handles the bills, other sundry expenses like monthly expenses, entertainment, loans, travel, medical, contingency funds, children’s education, etc. Just one person handling finance without the other knowing, will lead to disaster.
Couples must discuss parenting issues also. There are different styles of parenting, the autocratic style, the permissive style, the neglected style and the democratic or responsible style.
I have elaborated on all these styles earlier, but I will give a brief write up here. Autocratic parenting style is where there is military rule. The children have no say, and the rules are harsh and penalties are severe. The children will grow up as fearful adults, or rebels.
Permissive parenting style is where the children are allowed to do whatever they wish. There are no rules, and most parents will perform the tasks for the kids, which they can do for themselves. For example, tying of shoelaces, feeding them into their teens, etc. Here the children will grow up not knowing how to fend for themselves and expect the world to wait on them. They will be selfish and will flounder. They will also not respect any law, which can land them in trouble.
Neglected parenting style is where the children are emotionally starved and this will wither their souls. They will not learn to trust and will always be victims. Or they will attach themselves to those who show affection; this can be detrimental as they can be taken for a ride.
Democratic or responsible parenting style is where there are rules and penalties. The children are allowed to present their viewpoints, they are aware of the ground rules, and the penalties are imposed every time the rules are broken. There is consistency and children learn respect. The children are given age specific chores and age specific penalties. There is healthy give and take and things are always discussed. Explanations are given and children are encouraged to achieve their dreams. Children need rules and consistency. Otherwise they will feel rootless.
Each has to handle his/her family. That is the wife handles her family and the husband handles his. This way there will be no conflicts with in-laws. He clears all misunderstandings, issues and conflicts with his family, and she does with hers. There is less friction this way and no resentment will arise.
Like I mentioned earlier, there will be conflicts. Any couple that maintains there is no conflict in their marriage does not have a vibrant marriage. It is just existence of the two people. Every marriage has its own share of conflicts and arguments.
There are several methods of handling a conflict. Discuss the issue that is bothering you. Develop good listening skills, and learn to communicate effectively. Pay attention when your spouse is expressing some hurt or anger. Do not put off the discussion, there will be no better time to discuss it. If the discussion turns too emotional, then agree to discuss it later.
Do not bring in any past conflicts. Yes, there will be one or two issues, which will never get resolved, no matter how long you have been married. They will surface every now and then and disturb you. But when you are discussing present conflict, then stick to it, it has to be resolved for your peace of mind.
Do not make any personal remarks. No character bashing. No matter if your spouse deserves it! Learn not to use never and always. It can make your spouse very defensive. Learn to develop empathy skills. This way you can really understand your partner’s pain and understand what he/she is not really saying. You will be able to understand his/her body language if you listen attentively and have empathy. You can restate the issue before you try to resolve it. This is to make sure you have understood what your spouse has been saying.
Never attempt to be right always. No mind reading either. Your spouse is quite capable of talking for him/herself. No stonewalling either. No refusing to discuss the issue. Your partner is obviously emotionally hurt, you are duty bound to listen.
If a man appeals to the emotional needs of a woman, he can make his spouse happy. And for a woman, she must appeal to his intellectual side. This does not mean a woman cannot be intellectual or a man is not emotional. It is just that a woman thinks emotionally, mostly, and a man prefers to have pure hard facts.
A woman looks for love, affection, mushy talks, silly gifts that declare love, hugs, open display of affection like holding hands, reassurance and statements of love. Her needs are caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation and reassurance. A man looks for trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement.
These love needs are inherent in all, they may not seem very important. But believe you me, they are very important and they can make or break a relationship. They are like the lubrication in a relationship, if you wish to have a smooth marriage, then do pay attention to the love needs of your partner.
Remember you are married for life. And you must be open with each other regarding all issues including sex. It is like a joint venture, the deal should benefit both. You both will grow into your marriage when there is mutual respect, and understanding. Try to accommodate and be willing to go the extra mile for the health of your marriage.
And in a healthy marriage, there is no room for domestic violence. The violence can be in physical, emotional or financial form. How can you hurt someone you love and respect?
Humor plays a large role in a marriage. Learn to let go and have fun as and when you can. Clowning around, taking part in joint activities, having fun with each other, exploring together, etc, will lead to good bonding. Make it mandatory to start the day with a joke. Be creative and surprise your partner. Look out for each other.
Exercise is also very essential for the health of a marriage. When both are healthy, the relationship can be healthy. So try to exercise together, have fun playing games that are physically and mentally stimulating and go for regular medical check-ups. Inculcate good grooming habits and maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body. Contribute to and encourage each other to grow in personality from within too.
Remember each of you will grow and change in personality, thoughts, behavior, attitude, both internally and externally. This comes with experiences faced in life. Change is constant. Do not get confused or feel your spouse has changed so much. Growth is normal and the more positive the growth, the happy each should be.
As you age and your marriage ages, look back with fond memories and recall the times of your youth spent together. It will be filled with lessons, hurts and joys. Do not try to gloss over your mistakes; everyone is entitled to make them. But remember the lesson of not repeating the mistakes. And if necessary, do go for counseling, if you find you are stuck at an issue without a solution.
Try to build the marriage into a beautiful relationship. It needs to be worked on, so do not neglect it. The more you nurture it, the better it will bloom.