36 Things I’ve Learned From 36 Years of Marriage

22. Saying thank-you does, too.

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23. The happier I am about my own life, the less irritated I am about my husband’s irritating behaviors.

24. A good marriage will have its share of conflict, frustration, boredom, unresolvable arguments, slammed doors and nights where one person sleeps on the couch. The key is to have enough good things to balance them out.

25. It’s not always easy to keep your heart open.

26. Love matters. While love doesn’t heal all, even (especially) during hard times, love is a touchstone, a reminder of why you got together in the first place.

27. Marriage is not an antidote for loneliness. While marriage provides companionship, closeness and connection are not a constant. Sometimes we’re in sync. Sometimes we’re not. It’s important to be able to soothe and comfort yourself when need be.

28. It’s easy to get into a rut when you’re with the same person, year after year. Sex. Vacations. Dinner. How you spend Saturday night. Change things. Add some spice.

29. Most good marriages have one person who plays the role of the relationship “guardian”: The person who brings up difficult subjects. The person who stays hopeful in hard times. The person who acts as a steadying influence when one or both of you are getting worked-up. In an ideal world, that role would be shared. In the real world it only takes one.

30. One of the best things to do in the midst of a fight is to stop fighting. Take a break. Cool down. Come back to it later. Hotheads are terrible problem solvers.

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31. Some conflicts cannot be resolved by compromise. (We can’t have half a child or buy half a vacation home). When there’s no such thing as “meeting halfway,” the solution becomes a matter of generosity, where one person says “yes” to their second choice and the other acknowledges that as a gift.

32. Fights are never about content. Where we store the dish soap, whether it’s quicker to take the frontage road or the freeway, whether it’s horribly rude not to answer a text — none of these are worth getting ourselves all in a twist. Our upsets are about the larger meaning we make of that unanswered text, that resistance to influence, that refusal to take seriously the things we request. It’s really helpful to accurately name what’s setting you off.

33. There’s a big difference between being happily married and living happily ever after. None of us are happy 24/7. Thank goodness we don’t need to be.

34. When you think to yourself, I really shouldn’t say this, you’re probably right.

35. Learning how to make up is essential since you’ll never, ever, get to a point where neither one of you screws up.

36. One of you has to go first. Apologize first. Be vulnerable first. Yield first. Forgive first. Why not let that person be you?

 

Looking to have a more satisfying marriage? Get my free bonus article: 75 Ways To Improve Your Relationship Starting Today.

Related Video: 6 Early Red Flags of a Toxic Relationship

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Written by Winifred M. Reilly M.A., MFT
Originally appeared on SpeakingOfMarriage.com

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36 Things I’ve Learned From 36 Years of Marriage

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Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFThttps://speakingofmarriage.com
Winifred Reilly is a marriage and family therapist who has helped more than 1,000 couples build strong, loving relationships—no matter how frustrated they were or how long they've been stuck. She is the author of the relationship advice blog Speaking of Marriage and It Takes One to Tango, a book that empowers one partner in a marriage to create far-reaching positive change, whether or not their partner joins in the effort. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Real Simple, Readers Digest, The Good Men Project, and Redbook. Interviews include NPR, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, KQED Forum, Web MD. She lives and works in Berkeley, CA.
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