Any tips from a happily married lady? I know it seems so abstract asking. But I admire your fairy tale. I know there isn't a secret recipe per se...but what's the secret? ; )Okay. Confession. She didn't write me recently. It was a month and a half ago.
So in case you were wondering, my dear, I haven't forgotten you. Not by half. I have not written you back - have blatantly ignored you, actually - for the simple reason that I didn't know how to answer. Aren't I awesome?! And rude.
Your question has been sitting in the back of my mind all these long weeks. I know you probably did not expect a long, well-thought out answer. You were probably just writing off the top of your head, and expected me to do the same. I know I'm way over-thinking this. But I am a classic Head Case, will probably wile away my sanity pondering how bees fly, and you just have to deal with it.
So without further ado, I give you MY "secrets" to a happy marriage. (I guess I'll now have to kill you all.)
1. You have to actually be married.
Commitment counts. Countless studies have proven time and again that married couples are significantly happier than those who simply live together. Something about publicly binding yourself to one person can actually increase love. Don't doubt.
And for those of you who are already married and think you're off the hook for this one, go back and read that line up there again. Commitment counts. This means divorce is not an option. Ever. Pre-nups, don't get me started; if you build yourself an emergency exit, you'll use it. So no "we'll stay married UNLESS ...." lists. No. No. Stop. You will stay married. Period.
This leads to:
2. Selflessness and sacrifice.
(I don't know why this picture represents selflessness. But apparently Google Images thinks it does.)
I firmly believe that any two decent people can make a marriage work if they're willing to pay the price. (I learned that from President Spencer W. Kimball.)
It means bending yourself to the other. It means putting their needs before your own. It means giving 100% of yourself ... and not expecting anything in return. No "I'll change this about me IF he changes this about him." No. Just "I will do this because I love him" - even if you don't like him all that much at the time.
I don't believe in soul mates. I don't believe that in heaven we pranced around promising enduring love throughout the eternities, with desperate pleas to find each other on earth.
I believe instead that we have to work hard to become one another's soul mates. This means change.
But WAIT! you say. I want to marry someone who loves me for who I am! you say. I shouldn't have to change! you say. CORRECT! I say. And yet change you will, and change you must. Because that's what marriage is all about: Loving the other without the change, but changing yourself because you love the other.
That's why it's so hard.
[And let me just say something right here. To make a marriage the joyful state of ecstasy that I know God intends, it takes two. TWO people working hard to sacrifice and change. That said, everyone has ups and downs. Sometimes one person will be working harder than the other. One will be giving, giving, giving without getting anything back. Sometimes BOTH will be down in the dumps. That's why the whole commitment thing is so important - to get us through the normal ebb and flow of human nature.]
3. This is where God comes in.
Now, I would be stupid to claim that a non-religious couple can't make it. Nonsense. I know plenty of happily married couples that don't go to church. And plenty of unhappy couples who do.
What I will say is this: Heavenly Father makes it a heckuva a lot easier. That's because when that one spouse is struggling, or when both of you are losing focus, He's there to remind you. A covenant marriage involves three people: husband, wife, and the Lord. That way, one of you is always pulling. And that one (the Lord) is pulling harder than the other two could ever manage on their own.
Not to mention the fact that changing one's very nature to match someone else is nothing short of a miracle. And the Lord? He knows miracles.
So there we are. That's it. One, two, three. All the little tips and advice (like communication, prayer, date nights, lots of intimacy, etc.) somehow fit into one of those three categories. Just three secrets, when it comes right down to it.
Good luck to you -
Love, That Girl
images here here and here