Marriage isn’t easy. It’s one of the hardest things to do successfully. I’m on my second one, and you’d think I’d be better at it this time around.
Ha! That’s not at all true. While I am older and wiser this time around marriage still isn’t easy by any means.
In some ways, it’s actually harder because I am older and wiser. I know that things can’t be left unsaid. You can’t ignore the small issues lest they become big ones. And living in denial might be a more fun proposition short-term, but in the long run, it won’t work.
As long as marriage has been around (hundreds of years) there is still no foolproof formula to making a marriage work. If there were one definitive key, maybe we’d all stay married.
The marriage didn’t start out being about a couple in love wanting to spend their life together. It was more pragmatic, strategic. It was about building alliances and wealth. Leveraging families to become stronger families. To acquire lands and livestock.
That expectation was probably easier to manage, but I can’t imagine a world without couples in love.
Let’s face it, ladies. At one time or another, we’ve all wanted to star in a real-life RomCom. Where girl meets boy, mishaps happen, but true love prevails in the end.
And although so many marriages end in divorce, I’d like to hope that at least 50% of us can continue to beat the odds.
Marriage needs to be built on strong communication, trust, and respect. Whether you’re 20 or in midlife. Whether you’re on your first marriage or your 5th. The foundation for success is the same.
It may sound simple, but it’s not. The reality of the situation is while the terms laid out above are simple each of us has our own interpretation of what they mean.
THAT is the challenge.
I should also add tolerance to that list. I know that kind of sounds negative, but I mean that none of us are perfect. Of course, your spouse/partner is going to annoy you at times. Anyone you send a lot of time around will get on your nerves at some point.
When you love someone, you should be able to brush it off. Get past those small things. Why? Because they have so many other amazing things to offer that in the grand scheme of things it should matter.
For me, I feel the biggest key to marriage success are those things AND quality time. Note I didn’t say quantity time but quality time.
That’s why my husband and I have instituted the 5-minute rule. We spend at least 5 minutes a day talking either in person or on text/phone if I’m traveling for work and not home.
I know you’re probably thinking WHAT? 5 minutes?
You can’t possibly be serious.
A strong marriage needs more than 5 minutes a day to be, well, strong.
How can you build a strong marriage in 5 minutes?
How can you only have 5 minutes to spend with each other?
Though if you have kids, you probably aren’t asking me that last question. Between work, the kids, and traveling, it’s no joke. We don’t have much more than 5 minutes a night most nights to spend together. And sometimes its hard to find that amount of time.
We never felt we had time to talk about the logistics of the day, much less have couples time. As a joke, we started putting 5-minute blocks on our calendars, stretching it to 7 if there was something really important to talk about. But after several weeks of doing this, it became a routine. We realized all joking aside; we looked forward to getting at that 5 minutes together.
We got excited knowing we would have 5 uninterrupted minutes to chat each day (and again if you have kids you know that’s a huge accomplishment). Neither of us felt guilty telling the kids it was our 5-minute time slot and not to bother us. Since it was only 5 minutes.
What the time constraints have done for us as a couple is forced us to be more purposeful with our time. Not that we don’t love to sit on the couch, hang out, and enjoy each others company but when our days are crazy we work as a team and communicate in that time frame.
To figure out who has to do what. That means when we do have the chance to spend more time together we don’t have to spend it talking about boring stuff. We can use it for fun. We also use it to resolve conflict efficiently.
My point is you may not have hours on end to spend with your significant other. But you can have a strong relationship if you are purposeful with your time.
I hear a lot of my friends (and I’m guilty of this too) complain about problems in their relationships (and not just married ones). Blaming lack of time on this issue or that issue. I say that’s a cop-out.
You only have a certain amount of time each day. It’s YOUR choice how you spend it. You can spend it complaining about how you don’t have enough time, or you can make the best use out of the time you have.
Think of the cliche slow and steady wins the race. In 5 minutes a day, you can work on our communication, trust, and respect. You can address those small issues before they get to be big ones. Think of how many times you had something to discuss with someone that was going to be a difficult conversation and you use not enough time as an excuse? The more time goes by, the harder it is to address and often the bigger of a problem it becomes.
Often the 5 minutes, or whatever time constraint you have, may lend itself to a quicker resolution because you can’t argue about it for hours on end.
The one thing midlife has taught me about marriage is to have patience and that we are all a work in progress. If 2 people truly love each other, almost anything can be overcome.