For Better or For Worst

Something to be remembered from the wedding day. We vowed to have and to hold our spouse from that day onwards, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

I would be the first to admit that marriage is not easy. What would you expect when there are two different individuals trying to live and make a life work together? I have been married for more than 15 years now, yet I am still struggling to be a good husband. But I do know that a strong marriage is very important for the family. 

This is the reason why I collected these lessons on marriage and shared them here. I want to be reminded, so that I can continue to strive to be a better husband, always (Goodness, my wife better not be reading this).

Let me first clarify that I am not an expert in marriage. And I am certainly not qualified to write on this big topic. What is shared here is not of my own. They are what I read and gathered from here and there. I can resonate with these lessons, though I still fail to practise them from time to time. I am still after all, human.

Lesson 1

Marriages are not made in heaven

Every marriage has its own challenges. It is not a bed of roses after the wedding day. Every good marriage will have to go through the test of fire. They require sacrifice and compromise. True love will be tested and proofed in times of trials and tribulations. Fight for your marriage. Make up your mind to stay with your spouse for better or for worst. Be there in sickness and in health.

Lesson 2

Everyone you marry has weaknesses

Nobody is perfect. Everyone has its own weaknesses and quirks. So instead of focusing on your spouse’s weaknesses, get the best out of his/her strengths. Also everyone has a past. When you are married, forgive and forget. What matters most is the present life with your spouse. Old things have passed away. Focus on the present and the future.

Lesson 3

Marriage is hard work

It takes effort to protect, nurture, and grow a marriage. Between work schedules, children, and other obligations, sometimes it can seem impossible to maintain that partnership. Volunteer yourself to work daily on it. Marriage is like a car that needs proper maintenance and proper service. If this is not done, it will break down eventually. Do not be careless and neglect your duty as a spouse and partner in this relationship.

Lesson 4

Marriage is not a contract

It is permanent. It needs total commitment. Toying with the idea that you might be better off outside of your marriage can put a major strain on your relationship, even if you never voice those thoughts. Decide ahead of time that divorce is not an option. Never threaten your spouse with divorce. Choose to remain married. Making this commitment will help you focus on making your marriage stronger.

Lesson 5

Marriage suffers with grudge

Marriages often begin to fall apart when one person is holding a grudge. Forgive your spouse as quickly as possible. Remember that forgiveness is just as much a gift you give yourself. Holding a grudge takes up mental and emotional space and will impact your health. Remember that love is patience. Sometimes it includes making a million mistakes and turning them into learning experiences.

Lesson 6

Marriage is about mutual respect

In a healthy marriage, both partners have mutual respect for one another. Don’t try to control your spouse. Don’ demand your own way either. Learn to collaborate, especially in making big decisions such as spending money and raising children. Marriage does not mean the two of you are no longer free. You are still two individual people who chose to share lives together.

Lesson 7

Marriage is about acceptance

Love alone is not enough. Love does not cancel out problems. Marriage is deeper than love when the couple accepts one another, without trying to change each other. The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated as is. It’s about being compatible with the incompatibilities.

Lesson 8

Marriage survives on communication

After getting married for some time, we tend to take our spouse for granted. We can be there physically without actually being there. We stop listening to one another. Communication breaks down because we don’t spend time talking anymore. Instead, we should be forthcoming on our concerns and express our thoughts, feelings, and wishes to one another daily.

Lesson 9

Getting married is declaring war

You cannot predict what will happen in the future. Situations may change so leave room for adjustments. When you get married you must declare war against enemies of marriage. Some enemies of marriage are ignorance, stinginess, stubbornness, laziness, disrespect and even cheating. Be ready to fight for your marriage.

Lesson 10

Every marriage has different levels of success

Don’t compare your marriage with anyone else. We can never be equal. Some will look like a marriage made in heaven, others would be struggling behind. There is nothing to be envy about. Work hard on your own marriage and in time your marriage dreams shall come true.

 

The Marriage Box Myth

In 1986 Dr. Allan Petersen published a series of church bulletin inserts entitled “Family Happiness is Homemade”.   In one of his bulletin he wrote about The Marriage Box: 

Most people get married believing a myth, that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: Companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship.

The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box.  You must put something in before you can take anything out.

There is no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full.

If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

 

I will end this post with a beautiful story I came across recently.

A very poor man lived with his wife. One day, his wife, who had very long hair asked him to buy her a comb for her hair to grow well and to be well-groomed.

The man felt very sorry and said no. He explained that he did not even have enough money to fix the strap of his watch he had just broken. She did not insist on her request.

The man went to work and passed by a watch shop, sold his damaged watch at a low price and went to buy a comb for his wife. He came home in the evening with the comb in his hand ready to give to his wife. 

He was surprised when he saw his wife with a very short haircut. She had sold her hair and was holding a new watch band.

Tears flowed simultaneously from their eyes, not for the futility of their actions, but for the reciprocity of their love.

The message of this story is that we should never take each other for granted. To love is nothing, to be loved is something but to love and to be loved by the one you love, that is EVERYTHING.

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