Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A 36-Year Adventure AKA Principles for Creating a Happy Marriage

What were you doing 36 years ago today? I was starting the rest of my life.

Yes, a Greyhound bus. The beginning of our adventure.
At the time, I thought I was all grown up. But looking back, I was so young, only 23 years old.

I probably wasn’t unusual in not realizing exactly what I was agreeing to when I said, “I do.” (Who knows what the future holds?)

I was in love. Still am.

I was seeking a grand adventure. Got that!

I was looking for a happily ever after. Got that too. However, since then I’ve realized happily ever after doesn’t occur without a bit of intentional living.

Yes, after living a day-by-day life with my husband, I’ve come to understand that I may not know everything, but when it comes to marriage—especially my marriage—I’m an expert. There are some principles that I’ve learned in the past three-plus decades that have helped to make my marriage work.

  1. Faith + marriage = happiness. We were in love but didn't really consider marriage until we got serious about God. Once our priorities were established, our life unfolded in a beautiful, blessed way I would have never imagined. Through better or worse, when you both serve the same God and have the same values, you've got a compass to keep you moving in the right direction, together.
  2. Your marriage must be a priority. You’ve got to place your marriage on a pedestal and keep it shiny and protect it against all the world throws at two people who are just trying to make a go of it. No one else (except your spouse) cares about your marriage. If it’s going to be a success, it’s got to be a priority. Give your spouse the best—the best of your time, the best of your attention, the best of your attitude.
  3.  Let it go. Don’t pick, pick, pick. Guess what? After living with someone for more than a few months you pick up on their quirks. Nagging is counterproductive, and no one wants to be around a nag. It’s a waste of time and a drain on emotions. The crazy thing is that we often want to pick on inconsequential behavior. Here’s my dirty little secret: I once was annoyed with my husband because after he did the laundry and put all the clothes away, he left the dresser drawers open by ½ inch! The nerve of him. I had to close those drawers! It took me about 15 seconds to realize how stupid my complaint was. Besides, I know I’m not perfect either.
  4.  Be nice. Of all the people in your world, you should treat your spouse best. Period.
  5.  Don’t flirt with anyone except your husband. Enough said.
  6.  Laugh together, every day. If you can find humor in the day-to-day business of living as well as the down-and-out moments we all have, you’ll make your day and your marriage brighter.
  7.  Respect one another. This is especially a biggie for men. They equate respect with love. Respect fuels and warms a relationship.
  8.  Don’t compare. No marriage is alike. Just because you friend’s husband buys her flowers weekly doesn’t mean they have a happier marriage. My honey is not a flower-buying guy, but at the beginning of the week he makes sure my car is fueled and I’ve got washer fluid in the reservoir. That may not be the grandest romantic gesture, but it does it for me.
  9.  Being right isn’t so important. Too easily little disagreements can blow out of proportion. No one is 100% right all the time. Not you, not your husband. So suck it up and button your lip. This falls under the pick-your-battle category. Give yourself a break, and give up stupid disagreements.
  10.  Never speak poorly about your husband. Never. Never. Never. This goes back to principle #3 and principle #4.
  11.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and that’s okay. That’s life. Marriage, like life, has its ups and downs. Some days are just so-so, and that’s normal. Deal with it.
  12. Someone has to keep a cool head. When troubles come or a challenge presents itself, you both can’t let emotions rule. Somebody has to keep a cool head. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s your honey. Emotions fuel unexpected consequences. Cool it.
  13.  Hang out together. Find something to enjoy with one another. Go for walks. Do the dishes together. Watch a TV series together and chat about it. Keep talking and keep doing stuff together. Even if it's not the most exciting stuff, you're being a couple.
  14.  Express gratitude. No one likes to feel take for granted. Say the words, “thank you!”
  15.  Remember fun moments. Sometimes one of us will bring up a happy memory. It’s good practice to recall the good times, it gives you a warm feeling and a stronger connection to your husband. Shared good memories cement a relationship. 
  16. Expect the good times to continue. Find something to look forward to together. If you expect more happy moments to occur and more wonderful memories to be made, you’re moving in the right direction, together.
*This list would not be possible without the pleasure and honor of being married to my darling husband. 


Carolyn Paul Branch said...

Megan, I agree with all your points - they are the same principles that keep my 51 year marriage going strong - but I could never have described it as well as you have.

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for the kind words, Carolyn!

Megan DiMaria said...

And Carolyn, 51 years! Wow!!

Shawneda Online said...

Your marriage is like my foster parents before my Dad died... You've been married almost as long as I've been alive. I don't know if you remember me but I used to interview you for my blog Faithful Folios and am still a fan. Your words have given me something I lost ... well had thrown away. Hope ... each day I'm asking God to help me, hope deferred makes the heart sick but life without hope is not better. I lost the hope to believe it is possible to be as happy or happier married than I am single... because I'd decided I'd rather be happy alone than risk being vulnerable, hurt and abandoned again. I believe in love for others but had resolved maybe I am one of those people better off single. My close friends have told me otherwise and I believe they launched a prayer vigil to ask God to help me want to hope again... your blogpost somehow hit something in my heart and I want to thank you for sharing them. He is awesome and so are you for letting Him use you... I pray God continue to bless you and your amazing hubby more and more each day. Not sure what the future holds for me ... but as always I am sure God loves me.... I am however because of your post open to the possibility of wanting and willing to hope again.

Megan DiMaria said...

Hi, Shawneda. Of course I remember you! I'm deeply honored by your kind words. I'm putting you on my prayer list, praying you discover all the blessings God has for you. Hang in there!