If you knew then what you know now would you marry your spouse?

In light of the fact that approximately half of all marriages fail it would seem the answer to our question is no. When you consider that many married couples are in toxic relationships you may wonder, “Why get married at all?”The reason is simple. A good marriage is absolutely wonderful. It is fulfilling, satisfying, comforting, financially beneficial and much more. So how do you enhance your chances to have a happy, successful marriage?

In my opinion here are some of the most important components for marital success:

  1. Your spouse must be one of your best friends. In rare cases they may not be your “best”, friend, but they have to be close to the top of the list. Friends do random acts of kindness for each other. Just about every day I will get Dawn’s coffee ready for her with the right amount of sweetener and Half & Half. When Dawn gets to the kitchen all she has to do is pour the coffee into the cup. This action is so insignificant, yet speaks so loudly. What actions do you take to show you care?
  2. In the same vein as are you friends is do you enjoy spending time together? Do you share similar interests or activities? If not, why not? If one of you is unable to participate in certain activities does this cause resentment or unhappiness in the other?

There is no need to spend every minute of every day together, but you have to enjoy the time you do spend together. Dawn doesn’t enjoy hiking or walking on a golf course. If I do these things I’m probably going to be on my own or with someone other than Dawn, however, she loves to play cards or cook, or many other activities. We do these things together and we have a blast. We do a lot of things together we both enjoy.

3.  Do you let your spouse know you appreciate and love them? This is vitally important. Many marriages suffer not so much from overt acts of cruelty or unkindness as they do from neglect and apathy. Much like a garden needs attention and care to prosper so does a marriage. Ask yourself, do you share hugs every day? Do you kiss each other? Do you share intimate moments? Do you say nice things to each other when you are both alone and with others?

On the flip side, do you belittle or shame your spouse when alone or in front of others? Do you find fault more easily than finding good things. If so, you’ve got some challenges facing your marriage.

  1. Finally, you must share a consistent vision for your future. This does not mean you have to be clones of each other, but you must be sensitive to how you face the future. There has to be some understanding, either tacit, or overt that is shared. Where will you live? Do you need more than one car? How are your savings? How is your health?

My father and his wife lived in a beautiful house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They were approaching their early 80’s. Good geriatric care was not available within a 2-hour drive of their home so they sold the home and moved into a senior citizen community outside of Baltimore that was fairly convenient to both my brother and one of her children. They community in which they live provides the whole range of providing virtually no specialized care to a complete memory care/Alzheimer’s unit. My father is now 93 and in great shape so all is well, but you never know. They made the decision together and it was the right decision for them at the time for the piece of mind they enjoy.

So to recap:

Marry someone who is a really good friend. Friendship will endure when infatuation fades. Changing people is impossible for you, and annoying for them so choose someone you already like.

Enjoy spending time with the one you marry. You don’t need to be with each other 24 hours per day, but you will be eating, sleeping, vacationing, watching TV, and more together. Be with someone you want to share time with.

Appreciate your spouse and let them know it. Random acts of kindness can and should begin at home.

Share a vision of your future. Face whatever comes your way as a couple.

Finally, if you are with the one that you love, respect and enjoy, why not reach out to me for a Renewal of Vows ceremony. It’s a great way to let the one you love know just how lucky you are to have them in your life.

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Jim did more than an amazing job on our ceremony. I thought there was not much to a ceremony until Jim came along. He put so much time and effort to make it exactly what we wanted. I loved how it was not like any other ceremony I had heard before. It was geared toward us and gave our guest a glimpse into how much we love each other. It made people cry and laugh which is of course the perfect combination. Thanks for everything Jim, you're the best! Jonathan & Ashley Greer

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