“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. ” ~ Simone Signoret
I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!” What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!
As I read through their list of the 7 “rules,” I found myself nodding my head up and down. Yes! These are great things to do to keep your marriage strong – and presumably are things that if you sustain in your marriage will ultimately keep your union strong and keep you from stepping foot in a divorce attorney’s office.
I decided that the 7 “rules” would make 7 really great articles. I start here with Rule #1 … and will continue with articles on rules #2-7 in the coming weeks. Ready? Here we go!
Rule #1 – Realize you can lose your partner. Marriage is a commitment. When you exchanged your wedding vows you made a commitment to stay married “until death do you part.” However, as I highlighted in a prior article called Dateable, “when you are accountable for something that you aren’t capable of, you are miserable.” Realize that you can lose your partner. In fact, if we listen to the statistics, in roughly 50% of first marriages we are discovering that you can in fact lose your partner.
Just as we tend to take extra care with and give special attention to other things that we don’t want to risk losing, so must we do the same with our spouses. Think about it. Perhaps you have a favorite piece of jewelry. Maybe it’s a fancy watch that your grandfather left for you. When you wear it, you are constantly checking to be sure the clasp is secure. When you take it off at the end of the day, you are careful to place it in a safe and secure location. You are cognizant of it, and attentive to it. You give that watch some special attention because it is meaningful to you.
Or, maybe you are a frequent traveler who leaves your car in the airport parking lot regularly. If you are like me, you are careful to zip your car key into a compartment in your briefcase or luggage so it won’t fall out as you go through security and your bags get tossed around. You give that key some special attention because it is important to you.
Similarly, this is the way we should treat our partners. We should be careful and attentive with him or her. We should be checking in to see if we are still “clasped” tightly. We should remain in a safe and secure place together. We should show extra care and attention to our partners because they are meaningful and important to us.
As we get caught up in our hectic lives, however, our jobs, our children, our hobbies, and our volunteer work can all place enormous demands on our time. Unfortunately, it is often our partners who pay the price. We tend to think that they will be the most understanding and forgiving and they are for a time, but after a while nobody wants to feel like they are consistently coming in second, third or fourth place. After a while, every partner wants to feel like they are that meaningful watch and that important key.
Relationships are vulnerable. While our partners certainly aren’t like a watch or a key, they too can get “lost” in the shuffle. This can ultimately lead to losing your partner completely and finding yourself making that visit to the divorce attorney.
The bottom line is this: marriage is hard work and it takes an ongoing commitment. Just because you said, “I do” doesn’t mean you are home free and that all the hard work is done. Turning your “I do” into forever means making your partner a constant priority in your life, and having your partner feel valued as a priority. Think about it. Are you treating your partner as a meaningful watch or an important key?
“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” ~ Barnett R. Brickner
What do you think? Do you operate on the premise that your relationship is something to be cherished, and are you cautious not to lose it?
About the Author:
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.