09 February 2015

Secrets To A Magical Marriage

Now I'm no expert on marriage or relationships, but after one short-lived terrible marriage - to the beginning of a really, reeeeeally, happy marriage :) - I'd be lying if I said I hadn't learned a few things along the way... and prepared myself quite a bit this time around!

It goes without saying that making the Lord the very most important part of a marriage is truly what solidifies any marriage. I believe that with every part of me. Without gospel principles and shared values, any relationship rings hollow. Morning and evening prayer, daily scripture-study, weekly temple attendance, weekly church-attendance, and utilizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ is absolutely vital and essential in a happy and successful marriage. With and through the grace of Jesus Christ forgiveness comes more easily, sacrifices are more easily made, and love is almost always the foundation both people stand on.

Without that common ground, the following things I have to say are irrelevant and inapplicable. However with that first step in addition to the following, I personally believe that these things can make any marriage not just good and tolerable, but absolutely extraordinary.

1. Be Completely Vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is never fun. It's never an easy thing. As humans we are prone to get defensive and build up walls, especially if we have been hurt in the past. Our first instinct is to protect ourselves. We protect ourselves from exposing how we really feel. Whether it's insecurity, or shame, or embarrassment, vulnerability doesn't have time for it! Vulnerability says to let go. It says to embrace your feelings and your weaknesses and share them openly with another person. Vulnerability tells us to get as raw and as real as possible, then wade it out and embrace it. Paulo Coelho once said, "The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility." He couldn't be more right!

Along with being open and vulnerable, honesty easily makes its way in. I'm talking about honesty in everything. Being honest with your feelings, being honest with your experiences, and being honest with your circumstances and situations. I've never understood the weight that vulnerability carries in a healthy relationship. With complete vulnerability on both ends, there are no hidden messages or secret agendas. There are no fabrications of the truth. Each person knows what the other person is thinking and feeling at all times - and I know that my decision to be vulnerable and honest within my relationship right now has paved the pathway to its success thus far.

2. Make Intimacy A Priority

Intimacy can mean many things. Intimacy takes its form within two people holding hands. It takes its form within sweet words and kind acts. And yes, intimacy certainly takes its form within physically becoming one, in the way God intended married couples to become. The power of procreation is the most divine gift from God, and the act itself, when performed at the right time and in the right place, can bring an added measure of eternal happiness and Christlike love into any marriage.

Intimacy has been tainted in many ways. The ways of the worlds have diluted its precious and righteous purpose, and interestingly enough, I believe it has been tarnished by married couples, who withhold intimacy from their spouse or take intimacy for granted. Withholding intimacy in a marriage usually happens after many years, but I know of some marriages where its happened quite quickly. Never withhold that gift from your spouse. Share that gift with your eternal companion freely. Almost always, that specific gift is the one gift men actually need to feel loved, and purposefully withholding that love, because it's "inconvenient" or whatever else - is in my humble opinion - as selfish as selfish can get.

"Our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very mainsprings of life and happiness - they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society - they are the essence of charity, or love... There is not a more pure and holy principle in existence than the affection which glows in the bosom of a virtuous man for his companion..." -Elder Parley P. Pratt

3. Expect Reasonable Expectations

When someone goes into marriage with unfair and unrealistic expectations, both people will always end up being disappointed. Discussing your expectations within a marriage (ideally before the marriage) is crucial. What does a wife expect from a husband? What does a husband expect from his wife as a mother? Once everything is out on the table, both people know where each one stands and only then can a couple move forward and discuss future sacrifices and compromises if need be. With that being said, go into marriage understanding that not all expectations will always be met. That's life. That's mortality. It's the world we live in. Not only that, but men and women are entirely different and both offer entirely different things. Don't expect your husband to sit and cry with you when you're being overly sensitive, and don't expect him to understand why you're crying over nothing. He's your husband, not your girlfriend! And husbands, don't expect that your wives won't be overly sensitive. Don't expect that your wives won't cry over everything.  She's a woman. That's what she does!

"Take people as you find them and love them just the same." -Craig Christensen

If your expectations are unrealistic, re-evaluate them, but for the sake of your sanity and your sweetheart's, please re-evaluate them before you get married!

4. Never, Ever, Ever, Give Up

We live in a selfish world. It's all about me, me, me! And society not only embraces that, but encourages it. Any person in the year 2015 needs to be independent and successful and if something in our life isn't up to par, we can end it with a single signature. No big deal, right? It's our life. If a marriage is hard or unsatisfying we can get a divorce. In our day, the answer to inconvenience is simple and far too quickly made.

When I say never give up, don't only be someone who never gives up, but do not marry someone who will give up. Marry someone respectable. Marry someone who will honor their word. Marry someone who has the dignity and integrity to fight and stay, no matter what happens. And please, be that person for your spouse. They deserve that commitment and loyalty. There is nothing more comforting than being in a relationship that is secure. Stable. Sure. There is nothing more comforting than being married to someone who is steadfast in life and in their word. There is nothing better. Absolutely nothing.

Love always perseveres.

5. At The End Of Each Day, Let Your Spouse Know What They Did Right

We all need reassurance. We all need reminders. We all need to be reminded that we're not half bad. And when we know someone else thinks we're great, it not only makes us want to be greater, but it makes us want to be greater for that person who noticed our greatness in the first place. Compliments always cycle the same way. You give one, you get one, and so on and so forth. Pick out the qualities you love in your spouse, and get over the ones that you don't. Easier said than done - understood - but once you make a real effort to notice the good in someone every single day, I promise it gets a heck of a whole lot easier.

I could go on and on and on and on. I have far too much to say about marriage and how highly I think of it. I have a million suggestions and recommendations and I've read a million and one books about it. I think marriage is the best, I do. I think it's an incredible blessing God has given us, and I feel beyond blessed to take part in it. And with that.... I'll end with this:

It doesn't get more real than that.