It’s time to let go of those unrealistic expectations of marriage: “You shouldn’t have to work at marriage.” “All you need is love.” “If it’s meant to be, it’ll all work out.” “We’re soul mates – of course our marriage will be perfect!”
Marriage can be a risky business - more than 50 percent end in divorce. Yet almost everyone is looking to get coupled up. 90 percent of all Americans will walk down the aisle at some point in their lives.
With more realistic expectations for marriage, research shows they last longer. You won’t necessarily live happily-ever-after, but you will have an interesting trip! Here are ideas to consider if you want a “real” marriage:
1. It takes teamwork.
Even with a strong bond and a deep commitment, unexpected developments can blindside and damage a healthy union. Marriage takes bravery. It takes fearlessness to face and work out problems as a team. Simply kissing and making up, burying the hatchet, ignoring changes and avoiding arguments, lays the groundwork for a bumpy future full of unresolved issues that will definitely be brought up again.
2. Your mate isn’t perfect and neither are you.
There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. Marriage is a journey that takes skills for joy to exist and endure. We need to understand our mates, their wants, their dreams - and express our own. In doing so, we can learn to live with our differences as two unique, loving, ever-changing people who call themselves a couple.
3. We know how to plan weddings - not marriages.
Every little detail is covered from the guest list to the thank-you notes. But it’s rare for couples to strategize the important values of their life together, once the honeymoon is over.
We seek out information on how to become good parents. We study what to expect during pregnancy. We go to school to learn an occupation. We even take classes to find out how to enjoy our hobbies, and put in time at the gym to cross-train for our favorite sports.
But how much time and effort do we put out to enhance our marriage skills so love can grow. Why do we want to believe that things will magically work out on their own?
So go ahead, grow together as a team of two – a team of experts in your own unique relationship. Put it at the top of your list of invaluable ways to show your love. Evaluate your marriage often - talk about it. Design a marriage that works for both of you!