Last night I went to the wedding of a 51-year-old friend who married for the first time. It was an extremely joyful event for everyone there, especially his mother, who was proud that her son had waited patiently until he found the right woman.
As I scanned the crowd at the outdoor garden event, I noted many who have been married several times, some who have given up on relationships altogether, a few confirmed singles, those going through divorce, couples married for decades, others in new relationships, and of course, a variety of singles who’d like nothing more than to meet someone special. With all of those many experiences and life stories, I wondered what collective wisdom they might offer to our friend as he embarks on this new chapter in his life …
What advice would you offer, and how can my friend ensure that life with his lovely new bride is the best it can be? While I wait to hear what you have to say, I have a few nuggets of wisdom to offer …
Think We instead of Me. The happiest couples have a strong sense of us.
Make the relationship a priority. A relationship has to be nurtured along … you can’t just marry, forget about tending to it, and then expect it to grow and stay healthy. Many couples I see woo and adore each other while dating, and then drop the ball after the wedding or when children arrive. Bad idea. If careers, hobbies, parents, kids, or anything is put before your relationship, then you may well be writing the beginning of the end to your once hopeful love story.
Cherish and appreciate. Time and time again couples in my office complain that this aspect of their relationship has been lost, so take it from them, don’t let this happen to you and keep this ever-present in your mind … a woman who feels like her man values her will be thrilled to return the favor, and needless to say, he does this through his actions. Likewise, men tell me repeatedly that they want to feel appreciated and valued by their wives – if you have a relationship consider yourself fortunate and treat it like the precious thing that it is. Find out what makes your spouse feel treasured and do it as often as you can.
Learn to fight healthy. Yes, there are ways to rip each other apart and destroy your marriage, and there are other ways to disagree and make your concerns known without drawing blood. Learn how to argue fairly, maturely, and respectfully. Research shows that healthy marriages have 5 positive interactions to every negative one – keep that in mind as you communicate with the one you love.
Getting to know you. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you know all there is to know about your spouse. When you learn as much as you can about your beloved, respect and admiration will build. Shhh… here’s a secret that marriage therapists know … knowing and understanding your spouse builds a foundation of caring, and when couples truly care about each other it affects everything and a sound marital house is built.
Mesh your dreams. Couples can work with each other to make their dreams come true, and when they do it strengthens the fabric of the relationship.
Touch and kiss. Keep the affection you brought to the marriage. Hold hands, hug and kiss each other romantically every day – how about locking lips for at least 10 seconds?
OK, so there is my starter package of advice and wisdom for my newly married friend … do you have anything to add?? Any life lessons learned about relationships, marriage, and romance you’d like to share?