"For better or for worse" is still very much a strong argument for getting "and staying" married. While some people would be too shy to admit it, the love and support in times of illness can speed up recovery. |
People in fact like the "for better or for worse" aspect of marriage because it tells them that no matter what happens, someone will be around.
It goes beyond having a security or safety net. It's the knowledge that they can count on someone when times are bad, and that alone generates a considerable degree of peace of mind and a sense of calm for the soul.
The single self shifts from me first to the sacred union of us… values such as love, honesty, respect, fidelity and dependability form the engine of a good marriage. Little kindnesses are the oil. Without the oil, it will grind. With it, it glides.
And how about the simplest reasons for marriage such as: silly little jokes, hugs and cuddling, traveling together, laughing together, quiet times together, mutual friends, sexual intimacy, pillow talk, kissing and making up? Can anyone really put a price tag on these simple pleasures? Don't they echo the saying that the best things in life are free?
Oh yes, there is love in relationships, but there is deeper love in a marriage that is on its way to its 25th or 50th year. Sir Arthur Wing Pinero sums it nicely: "those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young." So did James Thurber: "A lady of 47 who has been married 27 years and has six children knows what love really is and once described it to me like this: love is what you’ve been through with somebody.
People who have remained happily married are those who realize gradually that there are actually two marriage contracts, not just one.
The first contract is what everyone is familiar with "the one" that the priest in a wedding ceremony makes official. The second contract is what couples call the silent contract. It is secret, implicit and largely unconscious. It is this second contract that specifies standards and behaviours our partner should fulfill.
The distinguishing characteristic of this contract is our secret belief that our own feelings, needs, and sense of what is right are most important. One's expectations of the other can carry risks and can lead to clashes, which couples try to resolve among themselves.
Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, these conversations are rarely objective or fruitful, given that individuals rarely ask if their expectations are fair and reasonable "they just complain endlessly". Happily married couples are those who understand this second silent contract and all of its ramifications. Happily married couples are those who continue to invest in the marriage, knowing that for love to flourish, it takes hard work and substantial amounts of creativity.
Love and physical attraction may take the backseat, especially when the children arrive, but fulfilled couples know that they must stick it out, through thick and thin, for the sake of the emotional well-being of the children.
When couples think of others and not just themselves and make a continuing effort to make the marriage work, they’ve made the best investment they could ever make and they firmly believe in this.
Try to remember that your partner is not your mirror image. In a loving, effective partnership, individuality and separateness are wholesome concepts that each spouse must work at.
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