Nobody said marriage was going to be easy. It takes work to build a life with another person, and it’s a task that you will have to give attention to for the rest of your life.
This may sound a little daunting, but when you consider all of the amazing benefits to being gained from a lifetime spent with the person who is your best friend, your lover, and ultimately, your chosen partner in this world, you will realize that it’s worth any amount of hassle. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have hard times that you have to work through to get back on track with your relationship. But you can weather these ups and downs by arming yourself with just a few tools. Here are some to add to your arsenal when preparing for marriage or already married.
- Respect. Aretha Franklin demanded it in her famous song of the same name, and you should not only ask your partner for this courtesy but offer it in kind. When you treat another person with respect, you create an atmosphere in which honesty and understanding prevail. This is the absolute minimum requirement for any marriage to last.
- Communication. As humans, we rely on verbal communication to interact with others (although you can also convey a lot through body language). If one or both parties are unwilling or somehow unable to communicate it can seriously damage forward momentum. And believe it or not, people grow and change throughout a relationship. It’s not like time stops because you got married. If you don’t communicate with your spouse, you might wake up one day wondering just who, exactly, is sleeping next to you.
- Sex. This is the one thing that separates married couples from roommates, so if you’re looking for the latter, don’t bother to walk down the aisle. There are rare occasions where both members of a couple decide to forego this basic function, but we’re all adults here, and most of us know that our biological function is to procreate. This is why we are driven to couple and mate in the first place. So of course sex is important. But even more than providing physical pleasure, this act between two loving adults can reduce stress, increase fulfillment in life, and strengthen the bonds of intimacy that reinforce a marital union.
- Support. Having a strong support network of family and friends is not essential to preserving a marriage, but it never hurts. If you’re having problems you should, of course, talk to your spouse, but getting advice from trusted supporters that are on your side (and the side of your marriage) will help you to cope during hard times and exponentially increase your enjoyment of the good times.
- Certainty. When you’re planning a wedding, and even during the honeymoon phase, you are primed for marriage preparation and enrichment. You’re in love, you’re making plans for the future, and you can’t imagine ever wanting something else. But let’s be honest: the first flush of love eventually fades. And if you and your honey aren’t compatible your marriage will certainly suffer. You have to share similar interests (at least a few), and you also need to be interested in each other.
So before you ever put that ring on your finger, think about who you are, what you want from life, and whether or not your soon-to-be-spouse is on the same page.