Marriage, Take II :: Advice Learned The First Time Around
Let’s start this chat about holy matrimony by first addressing the realities of divorce. The harsh truth is that 40 – 50% of marriages in the United States will end, according to the American Psychological Association. Though this is never a thought that one wants to entertain, it’s one that’s important for our society to face if there’s any hope of doing anything about it.
Of course, the situations and circumstances surrounding the dissolution of a marriage are so many and so personalized that even within the same relationship you may get two different answers. Life is complicated, and relationships are at the heart of its complication, making their ending a topic in which an article couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of.
But if you’re anything like the optimists we are, you’re still a believer in happily ever after, despite the inevitable complications that life and relationships will throw our way. You believe in marriage, even with the rise of divorce, and hold firm to the notion that love can last a lifetime.
It’s true that the best people to give advice are those who’ve been through an experience first hand. So, with marriage on our mind, we thought it would be oh-so insightful to reach out to people who’ve been through a divorce in order to find out what was most valuable to know the second time around. All the people we chatted with are remarried, so by default they also still believe in marriage despite their first-time experience. Ultimately, what we wanted to know, was what lessons did they learn the first time around that helped them to make their second marriage more successful?
Without further ado, here are their interesting, honest, and thought-provoking answers.
- You must be mature enough and insightful enough to know yourself well. It’s so important to be content with who you are. Without this, how are you supposed to know the type of person who will be a good match for you? Often, people get married without this key factor in mind. They blame the relationship when it fails, but ultimately, it was a matter of them not recognizing that they perhaps shouldn’t have entered into it in the first place.
- You must be the BEST of friends and really, really like each other. Your spouse should be your very best supporter, advocate and friend. You should be the same for him/her.
- Don’t just think it. Say it. Say “I love you” every day. Don’t assume it’s assumed. Remember why you like your spouse, and tell them loudly and proudly.
- Never, ever cheat. This includes emotional cheating, as this can be just as destructive as physical cheating.
- Do not let individual ambitions overrule the needs of the family. Sometimes, you have to “take one for the team” and do things you don’t want to do in order to help the good of the whole. This could even mean putting personal ambitions on hold in order to better provide for the family, or to allow your partner to achieve their needs/wants. One thing is certain, and that’s the fact that both partners need to agree on what’s best for the whole in order to determine the necessary sacrifices to make. Timing is a key factor here.
- It’s not always even. In an ideal world and relationship, everything would be 50/50, but unfortunately this isn’t reality. Sometimes, you will need to do some heavy lifting. Think that’s unfair? Don’t worry, there will inevitably come a time when your partner will need to return the favor. Hopefully this evens out in the long run.
- Always choose to look at the positive.
- Personal unhappiness can cause a relationship to crumble. This may not even be something recognizable to the person who is unhappy, however, it can be the root of unwarranted blame or resentment. Sometimes, the partner has done all they can do, and ultimately the change factor lies within the other to change their perspective.
- Listening is better than talking. The talker feels like they are being heard. By some miracle, you may even learn something or see a new perspective. Thinking that you’re all-knowing is a sure way to head toward disaster.
- You’re not on an island. Family, friends, money, and jobs are a part of life, and thus a big part of your relationship. You must recognize this, even embrace this, while remembering to hold your significant other at the highest regard. Treat them as if they’re the most valuable treasure in your life. The relationship should be protected, despite whatever circumstances or external influences are at play.
- There’s not much that communication can’t solve. But it takes participation from both partners.
- Love is not enough. Put a lot of thought into why you are marrying the person you are. Know that you’re entering into a lifelong journey, and that ultimately, your relationship’s success will lie in you and your partner’s ability to work together.
- When in doubt, be patient. The answer sometimes has its own timing.
What do you think, readers? Are these pieces of advice ones that you believe hold true, married or not? Any additional thoughts to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!