In order for victory to be achieved, soldiers endure extensive training prior to going into combat. Similarly, in order for a bride and groom to achieve long-term marital success, the two must dedicate time to preparations for their lifetime together. Be it for soldiers or a husband and wife, a plan of action must be devised for continual progress.
And, the plan should have built-in flexibility to maneuver through both expected and unexpected twists and turns. The following strategies will help you and your soon-to-be spouse develop a plan that establishes a course for “everlasting matrimony” as husband and wife:
Report for duty with a healthy sense of self-worth
A strong, solid relationship starts with a healthy you. It’s essential for each partner to enter matrimony as a whole being, not expecting the other person to fill-in-the-blanks or fix imperfections. You must possess positive self-esteem and personal self-confidence – confidence in your opinions, beliefs, values and morals. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. And, accept that some degree of insecurity and vulnerability is normal. Do you know yourself? Are you well-grounded? Do you feel good about who you are? If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you’re marching in the right direction for a loving, long-lasting marriage.
In the heat of battle, cease fire
Every marriage occasionally hits a bumpy road. Disputes and quarrels are inevitable, and now and then tempers may flare. Sometimes, the best way to regain control of a tough situation as well as the relationship is to table conversation and give yourselves time to cool down. Step away from the problem and set a specific time to revisit it. The latter is especially important because unsettled enemies (issues) swept under the carpet will surface again – and with greater intensity.
Heal casualties with forgiveness and compassion
Although stressful to deal with in the moment, disagreements present opportunities for a couple’s relationship to grow and mature. Reconciliation requires open communication, negotiation and compromise. Scuffles can only be solved with each spouse giving a little here and there, with one person sometimes relinquishing more than the other. Should the relationship become paralyzed by confrontation, seek guidance from a marriage mentor.
Deploy humor to maintain steady ground
Laughter can be the best anecdote for facing problems, issues and crisis – of which there will be many over the years. There will be petty incidents. So what if she mistakenly threw out the left-over green bean casserole that he was going to eat for lunch? Is it a major offense that he misread the friend’s party invitation and the two of you “attended” on the wrong date? There also will be periods of despair, mishap and misfortune. The loss of a loved one, medical maladies, helping children deal with their trials and tribulations – the list of troubling events may grow lengthy. Sometimes “humor” is the best ammunition to keep the relationship on an even keel.
Laughter is an important component of experiencing joy and excitement, too. It relieves stress, improves blood flow, and enhances overall physiological function of the body. Inject humor in everyday activities. For example, mail a funny card to your spouse at his/her work location, or when settling in for bedtime, share some giggles about things that happened during the day. An occasional friendly pinch, out-of-the-blue hug or unexpected peck on the cheek always guarantees a smile. Remembering to create opportunities for humor, laugh at trite mistakes, and generate laughter during life’s challenges will help maintain top condition of the relationship. Sing around the campfire
Today’s era of schedules, deadlines, appointments and obligations makes it easy to lose sight of priorities. Precious time quickly slips by. Often, unfortunately, it takes an emergency wake-up call, such as the severe sickness of one spouse, to realize that the relationship has become disconnected. Sustaining the vitality and sizzle in marriage requires a couple to continually explore, discover, evaluate and listen. Schedule private time for just the two to actually sit side-by-side and talk. Make a rule that in these private moments complaints, problems, physical ailments and money issues are off-limit topics.
‘Determination’ is paramount to achieving victory
The bedrock of everlasting matrimony is the determination to make the partnership work no matter what. In return, your life will be enriched beyond measure.
As the days, months and years roll by, you’ll realize that you’re always learning – learning about yourself, your mate and your relationship! Your original plan of action will require continual modification as you and the circumstances in your lives change.
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but there is certain possibility of fulfilling, life-long love. There will always be differences in personality, behavior, manners, tolerance levels and a lot of other things, but as long as you realize that marriage is a two-way street, it can last ‘until death do us part.’
Ultimately, one of life’s greatest rewards is the ability to look back 50 years or more and know that the best decision you ever made was to marry your spouse. Then, you can claim victory in Operation: Everlasting Matrimony!