Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Because I'm totally rude/awesome like this

One of my dear, dear friends (who I haven't seen in, oh, ten years, but that's beside the point) emailed me recently with the following request:
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

20 comments:

Brooke said...

Well said.

Kristina P. said...

Yep, yep, and yep.

MommyJ said...

changing yourself because you love the other... LOVE this point. Great post, and great advice.

Becca said...

I {great big squishy heart} this post.

You did forget the 4th thing. Little things make all the difference. If its flowers 'just because' or emptying the dishwasher without being asked, or heck cleaning up after a sick child before the other person tries to go to the bathroom and steps/sits in it. Those things make a happy difference.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Great post...I just posted on marriage for my "30 Days For The Family (Proclamation)"...and I just had to link to this post, because you're awesome (and rude!) LOL

http://beinglds.blogspot.com/2010/01/marriage-is-essential-to-his-eternal.html

Kazzy said...

On Sunday I spoke in church about marriage. It's a tough topic for so many people, but I preached the ideal. And the audible gasp when I said I didn't believe in soulmates. Funny.

BTW, I believe in soulmates AFTER the marriage.

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

Very well put. And for the record- I know at least President Kimball said that any two people living the gospel can make a marriage work-That was in our sunday school manual a couple of years ago when we studied his teachings, and there have probably been other prophets who say the same.

The Lawlor's said...

Well said. I would also add communicate. It seems so obvious to me and my husband but not to others. It is easier to just talk and get things out than to have things bottle up, explode, and things taken the wrong way when it didn't need to get to that point.

and communicate with the Lord.

Kara Herron said...

Wonderful comments. I whole-heartedly agree.

-Kara

DeNae said...

You wise woman, you! And I agree with Head Nurse up there; I saw the same quote from Pres. Kimball and I really believe it.

And you're firing on all synapses, clearly. How are you managing that while you're pregnant? My brain completely fell out 15 seconds after conception.

wonder woman said...

"Loving the other without the change, but changing yourself because you love the other."

I think I'm going to get this in vinyl on my bedroom wall.

Fantastic, love. Should be a MMB guest post, if I do say so myself. And I do. :o)

Danielle said...

Very good advice, thank you :)

Along this vein, I thought you'd like this article that I just read:

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/onlyhuman/2010/01/science-of-prayer.cfm

Similar advice :)

Kimberly said...

Amen!

It took seven years of marriage before I came anywhere close to figuring any of that out. And now? Happier than we ever have been. I'm glad it took awhile though. Life now is so much sweeter for having gone through some of the bitter (i.e. years of being silly and immature and selfish).

Qait said...

YES! Glad you know it, glad you're sharing it.
My ring is a trillion cut (triangle) to remind me God is part of our marriage--you've probably heard the analogy before: with God at the top, as long as you and your husband strive to become closer to God, you will become closer to each other (make sense?).
You were taught well! :) Makes me so happy.
PS: you're a darling pregnant woman!

Lara said...

I really love your thoughts, especially on the second point. The other two we hear often, but this one gave me some pause. I like how we need to love the other without change, but change ourselves to be better. Such an important concept.

Lisa S said...

Amen and Amen! I am book marking this post to re read. I too do not believe in soul mates because there were several guys with whom I could have had a successful and loving marriage. I also remember that quote from President Kimball. To many people these days give up so easily. It's sad.

JustRandi said...

Best advice EVER!
I've thought about the Pres Kimball quote many many times.

Usually when I'm mad.

The Prices said...

Okay, so if you don't want to become RS president....don't show your ward this blog posting!


p.s It's a beautiful post, thank you

Harmony said...

I hope your friend read this post. You're so wonderful and SO RIGHT about this.

Anonymous said...

Great advice, and so well put!

One tiny caveat, having known couples in these kinds of situations:

These points work only if BOTH parties are in it. That's especially true for #2.

If only one person is selfless and sacrificing and the other is selfish, that will suck the marriage dry. No amount of sacrifice and selflessness on, say, the wife's part can fix a marriage where a husband refuses to sacrifice and contribute.

For that matter, such behavior can be abusive. It certainly isn't a partnership, and a woman shouldn't have to feel like scum for the rest of her life because she's been long-suffering and must continue to be long-suffering forever because she married a jerk (and there is no emergency exit. Such a woman deserves an emergency exit).

I've seen women blame themselves for the end of a marriage when they did their very best: they bent over backwards for him for years, but HE wouldn't sacrifice. He expected her to do all the work. So she sits around wondering, "Could I have sacrificed even more? Been even more selfless? What did I do wrong? What's wrong with me?"

That said, assuming both spouses are committed and both trying (even if they aren't always seeing eye to eye--but both are at least making at honest effort), it'll work.

Just had to say that. But I'm doing it anonymously because I'm a wimp like that.

(Please know that I really, really admire you and agree with you. I just had to point out the other side!)