Over the weekend I started a post about marriage. I will admit that it was mainly driven by the frustration I am having over a situation within my extended family. After reviewing it today, I determined that it was not something I wanted to publish. The act of writing down my feelings and seeing them in black and white was very cathartic though and helped clear my head and regain my focus. I am still frustrated by the situation, but know that there is nothing I can do about it and those involved don't want to listen.
Through this process, I have also developed a greater appreciation for my marriage and the lessons my husband and I learned from our parents that have helped us.
1. Marriage is for eternity. Today marriage is often looked at as disposable. Our shared knowledge that our marriage is not till death, but can be eternal helps Rick and I look beyond today. We have a shared purpose. Our mutual faith in a loving Heavenly Father has helped us through many trials that I do not believe we would have weathered if not for an eternal perspective.
2. You need to have trust. I don't mean the "I trust you till you prove me wrong" type of trust. I mean that trust that is built through long-term communication and observation. When Rick and I were first married, he left for military training. By the time he had finished with the training, we had known each other for only 3 years (including dating, mission and military). When I went to pick him up in Georgia, some of his "buddies" tried to convince me that he had been carrying on with a local girl. Eventually, they admitted they had been just trying to see how I reacted and they had been disappointed because I hadn't gone all insecure female banshee on Rick. Why, because I knew he had made a commitment to me and he would honor that commitment. He knew the same about me when faced with similar rumors on returning home.
3. No secrets. A friend told me the story that when she was dating her husband, he showed her his divorce papers from his first marriage. She said she would have never even thought to ask, but he had done it to show that his life was an open book. Whenever someone tells me they want to tell me something, but I can't tell anyone, I tell them to not tell me then. I tell Rick everything. In our professional lives, we both deal with protected documents and privileged communications. It is understood that there are no other secrets in our marriage. My internet browsing history is open for him to review and the occasional joke is also allowed.
4. Be each other's biggest support. Everyday we are faced with those who try to bring us down. The knowledge that I can come home and find unconditional love and interest helps make the hard decisions easier. A supporter does not dictate or lecture, but can offer an alternative perspective when needed.
5. Spend time together. A favorite TV show, a walk around the block, a trip to the grocery store all allow time to reconnect, hold hands and let one another know that they have priority in everyday life. Never pass up an opportunity to say "I love you".
We have asked our children to not marry someone until they have dated that person for a year. If a year doesn't seem feasible, at least to go through the major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) as a "couple". By the time Rick and I were married, we had known each other for over two years, including his LDS mission. We had spent many hours discussing potential problems to our relationship and how to avoid them or formulating a plan of action in overcoming them. We learned how to fight fair, or rather discuss our disagreements. We learned each other's fears and insecurities, as well as each other's strengths and opinions. We set goals for ourselves personally, goals for us as a couple, and goals for our future family.
I know it is because of listening to the advice we received from our parents and extended family and learning from their example that our marriage has been able to be as strong as it is. This knowledge is a gift we hope to give our children and allow them to apply it as they desire.