“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” ~Barnett R. Brickner
Often you hear the focus being on what people want to change about their spouse, this is not the key to a happy and successful partnership.You choose this fabulous person for many important reasons. And let's face it, it is not possible to change another person. Look within and see where you can help your marriage.
This he said/she said blog post about marriage is coming to you from Richard Fitzpatrick (not on Twitter, Facebook only to read his wife's status updates and begrudgingly on Linked In) and @pegfitzpatrick (who tweets a lot, Facebooks plenty, venturing into Google+ and enjoys some Linked In time as well) who have been married for over 20 years. We are not experts by any means, we are just sharing our ideas.
1. Put her interests first
Of course this is impossible to do all the time and you can not put yourself into a situation of full time servitude but as much as you can when your interests and hers are not in lock step, try to give hers priority.
2. Appreciate her in words thoughts and deeds
Say thank you, offer to help, notice the little things she does everyday.
3. Fix it, forgive it and move on
The only thing that is a deal breaker is abuse, everything else can be fixed if that is what you want. If there are problems then talk about them in a way that leads to solutions. You wouldn't yell and get upset at your doctor about your high cholesterol. Don't yell and get upset at her if the marriage is sick but don't ignore it either. Don't get hung up on pride or arrogance, that is what keeps divorce lawyers in business. Forgive forgive forgive, put everything in perspective and figure out a way to forgive.
4. Take an interest in her interests
This doesn't mean you have to start scrapbooking but you should genuinely take time to learn a little about the things she takes joy in.
5. Take care of yourself
If you have been married for more then a few years, you no longer look just like the guy she married. As a guy there are a lot of things we can't do much about like hair (both increasing and decreasing) and muscle mass (the reason why there are no 45 year old Mr. Universe winners) Although woman tend not to put as much emphasis in physical appearance it doesn't mean if she married Austin Powers she wants to grow old with Fat Bastard. Staying healthy and active will mean the quality of life for the marriage will be healthy and active as well.
6. Be a little jealous
Don't be paranoid but remember that you married the prettiest woman in the room and chances are other guys think the same thing. She deserves the occasional complement of a guy in the bar asking to buy her a drink but it's more important if you notice it too and step up your game. She is special and wants to know you think so too.
7. Build and maintain traditions
Creating special holiday traditions, going to get ice cream or watching your favorite movie go a long way towards building a family life together. With these comes a special language between the two of you woven with inside jokes that only you two share.
8. Always work as a team!
Team Fitz can take on the world together in a way that we cannot do individually. Your spouse needs to know that you support them 100%. Knowing that you can go to someone with anything and they have your back in empowering. This also goes for creating and maintaining budgets as well as household chores.
9. Don't bash your spouse
This is disrepectful and unkind. You married this man for a lot of great reasons, don't use your time with your girlfriends in a manner that is unhealthy to your marriage. Build up your spouse with love and respect, whether he can hear you or not.
10. Learn to communicate in their style
We all know that men & women think differently and process things in a different way. If they need time in the man cave, let them have it and welcome them when they are ready to talk. It's ok to give them some space and give them time to think.This will make the conversation go much better when it happens.
11. Spend time alone
Once you have children, this is so hard but crucial to continuing to grow together and bond. Go to a movie, take a walk even small things matter. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, quality time alone is what counts. If you can squeeze in a night away, enjoy it and don't worry about the kids. They will be fine for one night.
12. Be patient!
Marriage is not easy, but it is worth every second of the work. Yes, the seat may be left up, the toothpaste cap might be off and the toilet paper roll might be backwards but your car may be clean, your lawn might be mowed and all the bills might be paid. If something is bothering you, be patient and kind when you discuss it. Chances are none of the things that bother you were done on purpose.
Ps – I think that Rich left off the one about frequent shoe shopping.
What are your thoughts about what creates a successful marriage or partnership? I'd love to hear them!