Sustainability. It’s what we all hope for in business, relationships, and most of all in love.
Why does it seem to be so hard for some people and come more easily to others? I don’t pretend to know many of the answers, but this post was written in response to three recent stimuli.
First, my husband came up with a brilliant idea to whisk me off to a cool, romantic weekend before the craziness of our move and the girls’ departures to their respective new homes start in the coming weeks.
- Second, Daughter 2 and I had a deep conversation about what makes marriages last and why some seem to be so much work while others just seem to work out.
- Third, and sadly indeed, a dear friend just sent a note saying he was the most recent in the spate of “Big D” (divorce) casualties that we have seen these past few years.
These things got me thinking about my marriage and the conversations my husband and I have had about why we work so well, and what have we done to be this lucky? Because you see, sometimes it seems like that is what it is…luck of the draw. We know wonderful people, strong in their faith and seemingly crazy about each other and their families and yet at just about this time of life when the kids were going off to college and things were changing, their marriages just disintegrated.
So, looking back and talking to Daughter 2, I tried to think of the things we may have done a bit differently along the way. Small things I could share with her that might be helpful to her in her relationship in the future as well…and here is what I came up with.
I was so very fortunate in the man who chose to marry me. He came from a stable family and had the mindset that I, and our marriage were “it” for him. This helped to make up for all of the doubts and insecurities about matrimony that my background had given me and probably made our marriage possible. His confidence in it made me able to trust. Will my daughters be so lucky? Possibly not. They may be the ones from the stable family with a “working model” of a good marriage. They will have to communicate and really get to know the man they love to find out.
If you have read C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and his treatise on marriage and the actual commitment he feels you are making, it gives you a totally different perspective on marriage. My husband told me about it and it is definitely worth a read! In any case, this is a conversation to have when considering marriage along with a list of expectations you have of each other. This was a very smart thing that my husband and I did when we got engaged, and it set the tone for our partnership through the years, making us aware that in order to expect the ones you love to fulfill your expectations, you must first express them to that person.
That sounds obvious, but think about the last time you actually did it.
I have talked before about my father-in-law’s great advice about name calling and how I expanded that to talking positively about my husband to my friends, children and to myself, appreciating the many great things about him and trying not to dwell on little things that might irritate me temporarily. This is something that I shared with Daughter 2 and mentioned that it works just as well with boyfriends. It does not mean that you overlook true problems in a relationship, just that you don’t make a hobby of “boy-bashing” just to have something to talk about with your girlfriends.
An additional thing we did early on after our children were born was to dedicate time to ourselves and our relationship. This took effort, planning, budgeting of resources and commitment, but I am convinced that it is one of the things that keeps us vitally interested in each other in areas outside our children now that they are starting off on their own journeys. We still have the fascination with each other’s minds and company that we had in the beginning, and after nearly 24 years of marriage, that is a wonderful thing. He is still my best friend and the person I most enjoy spending time with. Would that be the case if we had lost touch with each other – him into his career and me into the children? I doubt it sincerely. So, this is what you must guard against and if there is work to be done in a marriage, do it here.
Keep making dates with each other.
Look for opportunities for flirting and romantic gestures. There are times when things are hectic and it gets hard to find the time, but put it on your to-do list along with picking up groceries and making play dates. We called these our “big rocks” in the calendar after a “7 Habits” technique and the thinking behind it is valid. If you make something a priority on your calendar, everything else will just fit in around it, just like sand around a rock in a bucket. Most of all, keep expressing to each other sincerely how much you love, appreciate and respect each other. Sometimes we forget that second and third one and just casually sling the “Love ya,” as we head out the door. Take the time to add the other two and see how much deeper the feelings go and grow.
Wishing you many, many years of sustainable happiness.