The Secret to a Happy Marriage

I’ve been married a good long time, over 30 years at the time of this writing. And, so far, so good, I’m happy to report. Because of this, people have asked me, “What’s your secret?” In the past, I’ve fumbled to answer this question, feeling embarrassed not to have a quick response. But, now I think I’ve finally figured it out and I want to share this wonderful secret with you.

So, at long last, here it is, the secret to a happy marriage:

NEGOTIATING DIFFERENCES!

Now, of course a lot of other things come into play, such as taking “The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard,” dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, sexual dysfunction, etc. But, in the long run (and I do mean long), the trouble with most troubled marriages comes down to the fact that you and your spouse are different. The solution to these troubles lies in figuring out how to deal with those differences.

Is one of you a male and the other female? (Uh-oh, major differences there!) Is one of you introverted and the other extraverted? (Yikes!) Does one of you have ADHD, Asperger’s, or Bipolar Disorder while the other is a “normal?” (Oh! My! God!) You see what I mean?

In the beginning of a relationship, various hormones become active within your body and brain to enhance the experience of coming together. Love becomes blind, so to speak, minimizing differences and magnifying similarities. When you recognize differences, they seem attractive at this stage: “Oh, she talks a lot about interesting things!” or “He never talks and that really helps calm me down!”

A while later, those hormones that helped bring you together fade away and another set of hormones becomes active, ones with the purpose of helping us hang in for the long term. Unfortunately, with the fading away of the first hormones also comes the fading away of the filters that made differences attractive. Now, it’s: “Oh, she talks a lot!” or “He never talks!” Then the fun begins (he said sarcastically).

It’s important to keep in mind that this is perfectly normal. It’s a challenge that virtually all couples face. The differences between you represent an opportunity for tremendous personal growth, both for you as an individual and for you as you connect to your spouse. How you view those differences and what you do about them hold the key to that growth.

Take some time to notice the differences between you and your spouse. Notice also how you view those differences, what attitude you take toward them, and what you do about them. I will say more in future articles about where to go from there.

I would be very interested in hearing your reaction to this topic and anything that comes to your awareness as you notice how differences between you and your spouse play out within your relationship. Thanks!

Copyright 2014 Daniel J. Metevier

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