The following is kind of a rant. It’s not something I usually do, but I’m fed up and sad at the married world. Fair warning.
It’s so hard to believe that my wife and I have been married for twenty years. Twenty years!
I never would have dreamed such a thing, especially when I knew so many couples, including my own parents, who didn’t make it nearly that long.
Thinking about it and observing a lot of other couples, there are probably a lot of reasons why we get along: we both went through some bad relationships before we met, we have a lot of the same interests, etc. But one thing really stands out in my mind, and I believe it is the secret to a long and happy marriage:
It’s Not A Competition.
That’s it. Easy, huh?
Seriously, I’ve seen so many couples struggle through conflict after conflict, determined to win, to get the last word, or at least make sure the other partner doesn’t win.
No, really. Stop trying to win.
Remember when you first met, and you wanted to make him/her happy? (Note: A popular definition of love is, when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.) That needs to continue. It doesn’t mean that you bow down to his every whim, follow wherever she goes, but c’mon, can’t you all compromise once in a while?
“What are my three favorite words?” “You were right.”
I’ve seen couples that will go to such great lengths to make sure that the other does not win, that sometimes they forget what they were fighting about in the first place. Is that why you got married? Is that what made you fall in love? Did you fall in love, or were you just looking for a brother or sister to kick around? Which brings me to my second point:
Your Spouse is Not Your Sibling
I’m an only child, but I’ve been around enough sibling rivalries to recognize it in married couples, which is just wrong. Competing, teasing, proving the other person wrong, laughing in their face when they make a mistake, that’s sibling behavior. That’s childish sibling behavior, and you should have left that behind, oh, about twenty years ago.
You are together because there was something you liked about each other. Something in that other person that you wanted in your life. You looked in their eyes, you wanted to spend the rest of your life with them. But not like this. Not afraid to try things or talk about things or show your feelings for fear of being laughed at.
You fell in love once. Deep breaths. Sit down, talk about it. No yelling, no blaming, no winning.