Friday, 7 February 2014

How to stay married

Twisty ivy watercolour picture
Ivy symbolises constancy in the language of flowers
As Valentine's Day looms, I've been thinking about how my husband and I have managed to stay married for 13 years so far and whether I might have any advice.  I'm feeling very cautious about the advice but here goes...

1. Be lucky. Very, very lucky. My marriage is one of the great blessings of my life. I know how lucky I am to have such a good man at my side and to have had him around for so long (we've been together since we were teenagers).

2. Work on living out your wedding vows day to day, whatever they happen to have been. Mine were Anglican and they pretty well sum up how I see marriage:

To love, comfort, honour and protect each other, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to each other as long as you both shall live.

"To have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part...

With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you."

3. Similarly, regardless of your religious beliefs, work on the 'Love is...' stuff from the the Bible (1 Corinthians, chapter 13 verses 4 to 6).

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

I particularly like the persevering bit. No-one is perfectly patient and kind etc. but we can say sorry and keep on trying to be the best partner we can be.  

4. Keep your sense of commitment through all the stuff above (sickness, health, better, worse etc.) Keep talking, spending time together, doing and saying nice things even through the tough times and you'll be more likely to be in good shape to enjoy the good times. 

5. Know thyself and keep working on knowing your partner too. I'm still learning (and re-learning the tough lessons) about myself. I keep changing so it's an endless task! I'm still surprised to learn things about my husband that either I never knew or that have changed. Don't drift apart - keep growing together like two ivy plants with space around the roots but branches twined together.  

I do hope this post has been helpful... Let me know if you're feeling inspired or discouraged, if you agree or want to challenge some points in the comments below.

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I get really excited when I shout into the void and the void says "hello" back at me. Thanks for your comments!