Planning 101 26th October 2013

The Secret to a Long and Successful Marriage!

Here are a few tips on how to keep your marriage successful by Reverend Mary Austin, a Methodist Minister in Kidderminster.

To have and too hold…

With all that preparation, excitement and hard work when you finally arrive at your wedding day, walk down that aisle as husband and wife surrounded by those who love you most it can feel very much like an ending; the end, the climax, the culmination of all the preparation as you sigh with relief that all your plans have worked out. But of course it is really only a beginning, the beginning of your married life together which according to the promises you have just made, is for the rest of your lives.

Even if you have been living together for years, even if you already have a family, it is a new beginning and often living together as a married couple can be quite different from whatever has been before. And so, without being too negative, a few tips to help make your marriage successful!

Does marriage just happen?

Key to a successful marriageSadly, statistics tell us that often the relationships of couples who have lived together quite happily for years start to have problems once they are married. I wonder why that is? Perhaps there were problems before the marriage and a couple believed getting married would sort them out: not a good idea it won't!

Or, sometimes a relationship which has been very equal before marriage with both out to work and sharing the chores etc., can very subtly change after marriage into something more old fashioned with women being expected to take a more subservient role. Or, maybe before you are married you work at your relationship and once the ring is on your finger relax and feel you don't need to any more. I am not saying this will happen in your marriage but it's something to look out for.

And so, on that sombre note, we realise that marriage doesn't just happen; married bliss doesn't just happen. It takes time and effort; time for each other, time to talk; talking through the problems and difficulties as they arise.

Tips for your marriage

A golden word for marriage is COMMUNICATION! It is a good idea before you get married to discuss some of the issues which might arise after you are married. Issues such as whether you want children: how you each feel about bringing them up: your attitudes to money, work, savings and each other's families. All of these things can be areas of tension in married life.

Another golden word for marriage is TRUST. People who trust each other are happy to be apart and marriage is about both togetherness and separateness. It is important to each pursue your own interests and have things that are special to you alone and to you both as a couple. As someone's husband or someone's wife you are still you: an individual, important person! Marriage is a mutual relationship, one where each puts the other first, values the other and seeks the best for them. Marriage is then a place where each of you can grow and develop into the people you are created to be. Such marriage has no imbalance of power which so often contributes to violence within relationships. Oh, we know you are going to have arguments from time to time you wouldn't be quite normal if you didn't. But abuse in a relationship arises when one partner constantly puts the other down and makes them feel worthless. If you should ever find this happening in your marriage seek help quickly.

Resolutions to the problems

When you do have a difference of opinion - a good way to stop it becoming a slanging match is to decide that you will each have two minutes to put your point of view with no interruption and the other will feed back to you what they think you have said, just in case they have misunderstood.

It is also quite normal to be angry. Expressing our anger can be good for us so long as we aren't hurting someone else. Suppressed anger builds up inside us and can make us ill or depressed. We all have a bad day at work sometimes and want to let off steam when we get home well, if your partner wants to do that let them. They're not angry with you. Simply receive the anger even though it is uncomfortable. Be loving and help them heal. If indeed you are mad with each other - try and sit down and explain why you are angry - not using 'you' statements as in 'you haven't picked up your clothes off the floor!' or 'you stayed too late at the pub!' but rather 'I' statements like 'I get upset when the bedroom is a mess', 'I get worried when you are late'.

True love

Another point about human relationships worth bearing in mind is that we are the most horrible to those closest to us because we don't have to be nice to earn their love. We can be most ourselves at home. It happens with children too who are often naughty at home and good as gold when they are out. It can also happen where parents have split up and they are horrid to the parent they live with and good as gold to the one who has left. It is very galling - but a fact of life!

On your wedding day you will probably never feel more in love but on that day if you marry in church you will make promises to be there for each other 'for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health' and unless you live a charmed life there will be the moments that are worse, when money is short and you or members of your family are sick or experience other difficulty. There will be moments when you are not sure whether you still love one another; those wonderful feelings might fade with the years, but it is then that true love takes over.

True love is not necessarily feelings but a deep concern and friendship which when times are bad often needs to be an act of will. So when and if that happens remember the promises you have made and keep them. The magic is that if you do this your relationship will grow and your love will grow with it.

The Methodist Church Marriage Service States:

"It is the will of God that, in marriage, husband and wife should experience a life-long unity of heart, body and mind; comfort and companionship; enrichment and encouragement; tenderness and trust"

Other Timeless Advice you might like to read:
‘Key Anniversaries’
‘After the Wedding’