Successful Marriage Takes Commitment, Communication, Hard Work

“A successful marriage isn’t the union of two perfect people. It’s that of two imperfect people who have learned the value of forgiveness and grace.”
 Darlene Schacht

Shortly before I got married, a friend of the family gave me some advice that proved to be the most important I had ever heard. She told me that at some point a few weeks or months in that I would ask the question, “What have I done and why am I here?” — but she also said that feeling would pass and things would be good. That feeling came and went, maybe a few times, and there has been more than one occasion when I looked at him and said something about not liking him at that point or him annoying me only to be met by a similar response,
but through all of those times our love and commitment was there. In fact, I love that he and I can be that honest with each other about where we stand at any given point. My husband and I have a good marriage and a good relationship, not perfect, but we work at it every day. We have disagreements, discussions, stubbornness and even a certain amount of selfishness, but we also have love, communication, commitment, acceptance, and we support and trust each other.
Family life educators usually say communication is the key, and effective communication can be learned. Skills such as active listening, using “I” statements, paying attention to my feelings and those of my spouse, and learning tips for “fighting fair” make marriage easier. Some couples use these skills intuitively because they saw them modeled in their own upbringing. Others can learn them. Of course, the hardest part of communicating usually comes when there is disagreement between the two of you.
Another primary component is commitment. Commitment bonds a couple together when you are tired, annoyed or angry at each other. Commitment is important because we act differently when we know that our futures are tied together. Commitment means you have promised to stay and work it through, not just today but forever. Couples who understand the essence of making a permanent commitment realize that it is much more than just a decision not to divorce. It’s a commitment to do the daily work of keeping the commitment alive. It may mean turning off the TV or taking a nightly walk in order to listen to each other’s concerns. It means ignoring those little habits that might be annoying and deciding to look at the bigger picture.
The decision to get married will impact your life more deeply than almost any decision in life. Yet people continue to make it with little or no preparation for making marriage successful. And people continue to leave a marriage with even less preparation or thought. Each marriage is as different as the individuals involved, and what works for each couple might be different. However, the most important elements remain communication, acceptance and commitment to yourself and the relationship. And knowing as I do, that no matter what, we can always find our way through it together.
Linda Albert
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