What does it take for a marriage to last? What is marriage anyway? What makes two people decide to merge their two lives together, and then what happens after that?
Movies and romance novels tell us that finding the right person is the hardest part, but in truth, perhaps staying with that person is where the challenge is at. For anyone about to take the plunge, some advice from those who have experienced it can go a long way.
In response to the question “What are key things to form a meaningful relationship with someone?“, Reddit user grinningreaper – who has been married for over 30 years – had some very real things to say.
1. Lust is what you feel the first couple of years.
“You can’t help it. It overwhelms you. You want to be with the person, to touch them, to have sex with them. You are sad when you are away from them. It is a chemical reaction that promotes breeding. It dies with time. Any relationship less than 3 years old is probably fueled by that.”
While 3 years is a bit longer than one would expect, this butterflies-in-your-tummy stage of infatuation of course varies by couple. But it’s a good thing to note, especially when the lust starts to fade, that it’s perfectly natural in the progression of a relationship.
2. Love is a choice you make.
“It’s a choice to be amused by the failings of another as well as their talents and beauty. You acknowledge the role they play in improving you and your role in improving them. Love is a decision make a hundred times a day – not an urge or romance or something you cannot help. You do not fall in love. You fall in lust. Love you push. Lust pulls you.”
3. If you feel like you are doing 80% of the work in a relationship, you are probably only doing half, really.
“It’s incredibly easy to underestimate the other person’s contributions in a relationship, because you can never be completely sure of what they are,” agreed another user in a comment. Remember to never underestimate what your partner does– just because you can’t see them working doesn’t mean that they aren’t.
4. Marriage should not be entered into lightly.
“When you get married, you are agreeing to live a human life with another person. Human lives include disease, injury, tears, death, betrayal, and horrors you cannot imagine.
“You are saying, “We’re going to do our whole lives together.” Sure, you can set boundaries beyond which the marriage contract is invalidated, but be aware of what’s coming. They are going to get sick. You are going to have to carry them – sometimes for years or forever. They are going to get ugly and fat and old. They are going to change hobbies and interests and communication style. It’s a whole life. That’s a long time. Marriage is not about being happy – it’s about deciding you will share two lives as one. And that has great moments, but it is also awful.”
5. Love is conditional.
We hear a lot about unconditional love, and put that on a pedestal for all relations. But the truth, according to grinningreaper, is that love is conditional. As such, it’s good practice to define your conditions before going into a relationship, instead of blindly finding out later what you can and can’t accept.
“Break the conditions, and love is over. Everyone should clearly state their boundaries early on. If you do this, it is over. Then, when they do that, you actually have to end it. Not go through a grieving process of denial, anger, bargaining, and renegotiation. If that was the line, then that was it.”
6. Be able to break up with people.
“If you are afraid to lose someone to the point that you allow them to harm you, you’ve got a problem. Dating is a great chance to practice telling someone it is over and losing your fear of ending relationships that are not good for you.”
7. Once you have kids, the conditions for the marriage have changed.
You thought the wedding was the moment you got married? No, it was when she had your kid. The kid is more important that your happiness, more important than your self-actualization, your hobbies, your interests, your TV shows, your friends, or anything else. The child is now the top priority.
You two are going to fight bitterly over what is best for the child, if you are doing your jobs right, and you will compromise, and you will make mistakes. But once there are children, your threshold for what pushes you out the door has to change. You can’t just walk out because they got fat, or because they did it with the poolboy one time. You have to think “What’s best for the whole family” not “My precious ego and happiness.”
Whew, those were certainly some hard truths. What did you think? Do you agree with this advice?
While he takes a rather bleakly realistic view of marriage, it’s also important to remember all the good things marriage brings in addition to the bad. All in, it sounds like being realistic and reasonable is the way to go when it comes to relationships. And remember to always be kind and understanding!