The Flame Always Burns Brightly
Young men (or rather, single men) inevitably contemplate with relish the prospect of marriage. Like all of us did at that time of life, they like to envision a blissful togetherness, a meeting of two minds and a lifetime of mutual appreciation and warmth. Like a lucrative job opportunity, marriage requires you to have certain qualities. You have to be willing to put in hard work and effort, you must be willing to compromise where necessary and you must have a basic sense of duty and decency.
It is only natural for one’s expectations to be high. We expect and look forward to good things happening. But it is only too easy to leave the proverbial heart exposed in the palm of your hand. Be ready for things to be…not so perfect. I am not trying to discourage anyone. Just take everything in life with a pinch of salt.
Although it is good to be optimistic, and one hopes that life is good for everyone, whenever those of us who have been through the naturally occurring (or sometimes unexpected) ups and downs of marital life foolishly try to caution them, most of them brush off the advice with disdain. Never take a marriage casually. It is like tending a seed till it grows. A good marriage is built with care, with common sense and with reflection.
Waking Up To Realities
It is usually not until after the initial giddiness and excitement has passed that we begin to come to terms with the day to day realities of life together. We all want to be seen as good, caring people but none of us is perfect. We all have our idiosyncrasies. Some of us are short tempered. Some of us agree with others to try and please them. Some of us snore. Some of us are too careful with money. Some of us want to pamper ourselves after the stress of work or family life, by having a good time, eating out and shopping for things to help us unwind and relax.
No fairy tales will be told here. The institution of marriage gives no guarantee of lasting love or happiness. You cannot force feelings of respect or affection into another person’s heart. These are nurtured and they have to occur in their own time. As we are all told, marriage is a partnership. As in any partnership, there are agreements and there are disagreements. This is a given. No one can, and no one should try to, change human nature. It is how sensibly, delicately or even how firmly you deal with these situations, as the case may be, that determines the climate of your life together. Firmness here is in a positive sense.
Getting to Know Each Other
No matter how well you may think you have gotten to know your partner, it actually takes a lifetime to truly understand someone. If you do not really know your partner, your life together is in dire straits. Make that extra effort. Talk to their friends. Observe them. Remember their likes and dislikes. Yes, this counts a lot. It is common sense but usually not borne in mind that the same social skills apply within marriages as within everyday life. Some of us have the gift of getting other people’s attention and convincing others while a lot of us do not.
Be Fair To Your Partner
All of us tend to take certain traits or qualities for granted. For example, if one partner is very nice and routinely bends over backwards for the other’s sake, he will ultimately be expected to do this all the time. This situation cannot carry on indefinitely and will one day implode disastrously. Be sensible. Do things that foster love, not hatred. Some actions or words can be deadly. In many marriages today, some couples just stay together due to the social stigma attached to separation and divorce. This forces them to put on brave smiles in the face of misery.
Respect Each Other’s Feelings
Remember, as at times you will feel the burning need for acknowledgement of your efforts and sacrifices, so will your spouse. It is indeed the hardest thing in the world not to be selfish. When we are hurt for any reason, we tend to wallow in self-pity and ignore the fact that there is another human being in the equation. It is not all about you.
In everything you say and do, keep your dignity intact and let your partner keep his or her’s as well. With the exception of parents within reasonable limits, do not let anyone dictate the course of your relationship, no matter how close they may be. Use common sense and weigh everything unemotionally and logically. There is no ‘me’ in marriage. In everything you consider, realize that it will affect both of you, not just one of you.
Build a Friendship, Not Just a Marriage
Be caring and be approachable. But remember not to over-do it. Always think before you act. Do not take things at face value. Words hastily said in a state of hurt or anger sometimes cannot be taken back. It is a good idea to imagine yourself on the receiving end. Do not ever base anything on an assumption or based on hearsay. Sometimes things look a certain way but it is easy to fall into this trap. Have the facts before you and not always from only one source. We are all frail and human, and though we may like to think we are, none of us is always fully impartial.
Know Your Limits
Sometimes confiding everything is not wise, if it could hurt the other person or damage your closeness. Some people do not have the temperament or the patience to listen to certain things. Sometimes you find this out after some time together. It is easy to get carried away and forget that the other partner may be wanting some time on their own. Give your spouse his or her personal space. Do not smother them with your presence every moment of every day. Remember that at times you like to be able to sit quietly and think or do something. Well, your partner is a human being as well.
Clear and Present Danger
The first few weeks and months of a new marriage are potentially the most sensitive and volatile, especially when the partners do not know one another that well. No matter how serious an issue may be, always try to have a calm conversation. Go out somewhere. Have a drink of water. Wait a few moments if you are in an emotional frame of mind. If someone else tells you anything about your partner that excites you, first think about it calmly. Weigh it. Weigh your options.
Always choose the most constructive course of action. No raised voices. No accusations. No physical violence. Once you go there, everything escalates. It becomes personal rather than mutual. We are all only human and we have very sensitive feelings, but we should try our hardest not to ever let this happen.
Give Your Partner’s Intelligence Some Credit
Do not ever underestimate anyone’s intelligence, no matter how meek or unassuming they may seem. Everyone manages to form opinions within a reasonable amount of time, and these are based on actual events – words spoken, actions taken, feelings expressed or otherwise conveyed.
The Delicate Link : Parents and In-Laws
Children are always their parents’ weakness but this fact should never be taken undue advantage of. The link with both sets of parents should be very carefully maintained and respected. However, neither partner should try to gain sympathy in any situation nor should they needlessly involve either set of parents.
There are some things we have no control over. Our family’s attitudes and reactions contribute greatly to the security and hospitality felt by a new spouse. We will all make mistakes. We will all say or do things that we later regret. Parents ideally let their adult children make their mistakes and then gently help them learn how not to repeat them. It is a very unfortunate fact the families do not always play a sensible or supporting role. And the couple are left to individually pick up the pieces.
Children – Both Sides of the Coin
The timely arrival of (which is not in your hands) and te full-time involvement of raising children can help to settle unrest in a marital relationship. You end up too tired to argue and the common factor of love for the little ones becomes a healing bond that expands to other parts of your marriage. But remember, be sensible for the sake of your children. Raised voices or tension affect them more than they affect you. Arrive at an agreement, a pact or treaty between yourselves to convey unity and mutual respect as a moral value that they grow up with.
A Thought to Take Away
The underlying assertion here is that marriage has no fixed perimeters. Cultural, emotional and even religious barriers are now fading away. Take nothing and no one for granted. If there is one thing you actually take way from this article, along with its sincere admonitions, let it be that marriage is a trust. How sacred this trust actually is depends on you.
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