We’ve all been to that beautiful wedding that cost a fortune, where the décor is perfectly done, the food spectacular, the wedding party beautifully coifed and the party goes all night. We sigh at the end, remarking how fun and festive it was. We kiss the bride and groom goodbye and wish them well. Then we reflect on our own wedding day and remember how stressful it was. How many brides have said, “I just can’t wait until this is over!” And we remark on how much planning and effort it took just for one magical day. There are books, magazines, websites and wedding planners we can employ to craft the perfect day…and then it is over (and the marriage begins).
Yes, weddings are beautiful and fun but they only last one day. After that day, the real work of marriage begins. Yet, how much planning do we actually commit to “til death do us part.” I would argue, other than a pre-canna or premarital class, there is very little. Is it just me, or does society put more focus on the actual ceremony and party than what it takes to make a marriage last?
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a beautiful wedding as much as anyone. I love getting dressed up, eating a nice meal with drinking and dancing to follow. It’s fun to comment on the colors and the dress styles and ooh and ahh over the cute couple, commenting on how in love they seem. What makes me sad is that most couples don’t realize that real life will pop their blissful bubble. When that happens, the couple start to question their love for each other.
It is normal to argue about petty things like who has to take out the garbage, who has to walk the dog and how is the toothpaste tube going to be squeezed. Petty spats may build into arguments over finances, in-laws, sex, where to spend the holidays and how to discipline the kids. Again, to be expected. If more time was spent on the actually ceremony rather than on how to navigate these inevitable, normal challenges of a relationship, the couple may not know this was to be expected. They conclude, incorrectly, that the marriage is not working. Therefore, conflicts don’t get resolved, resentment grows, emotional distance follows and ultimately the marriage ends. (Heavy sigh)…
The good news is that even if couples did not know this before the marriage, it is not too late to learn it! I firmly believe if couples work on their communication skills and understand the normal ups and downs of relationships, they can have that “happily ever after.” It just takes time, commitment, effort and patience. Ask any couple that has been married for any length of time. They will tell you that the lust and in love feeling does change; it has to change. If it didn’t, no couple would ever get out of bed and nothing would ever get done!
Life comes with responsibilities and expectations that we must attend to. That is the reality of life. However, marriage, having our partner, makes this journey a bit easier. But, just as life changes, so do we and so does our partner. The key is to learn to work through these changes. Sometimes this requires good communication (and listening). Sometimes this requires gritting our teeth and reminding ourselves of the vows we took during those times when we don’t like our partner. Yes, it’s true, most couples go through these times! No human can expect to be perfect. Living together reveals all of our flaws Remember growing up with siblings whom we loved and hated at times? The same is true with our partner. We can continue to love someone even during those times we don’t particularly like them. The key is to keep trying and to ride out the not so fun times. Doing so makes the fun times that much sweeter!
Here’s to you and partner in 50 years!