How do you make it work?

I had to attend an out of town conference on Monday, it was horrible. I ended up going out to lunch with some other people who also work in my county. At some point the conversation turned to marriage and why so many people get divorced, and that long marriages are no longer the norm. I think it is really sad that long marriages are no longer the norm. I was even called a freak for having been married to the same guy for 20 years. Guess I have been called worse things in my life.

We had five people at the table. Out of the five people three had been divorced and remarried (some more than once) and two had never been divorced and have been married for 36 years and 20 (me) years.

The only guy at the table started asking us how have we made it work. He has several ex-wives and was intrigued that divorce does not always have to be the answer when things go wrong in a marriage. I found the question to be a little uncomfortable to answer. I guess I found this question to be hard to answer because any answer I gave could be wrongly interpreted into me saying “if you would have done XYZ your marriage would have worked.”  I also find this question hard to answer because I really believe that many couples just give up without trying to make the marriage work.

I did my best to answer the questions.

Well in my case David and I make it work by being honest, unselfish, dependable, and making time for each other. We don’t let our kids and jobs come before our marriage. We help each other meaning there are no “your jobs, and my jobs.” We both cook, clean and do laundry. We both work in the yard, paint, and do minor household repairs. Marriage is a team effort that requires both partners participation.

Another biggie is that we live within our means. Many people divorce over financial reasons. We have made it a practice to live within our budget and to say “no” to the things that we really can not afford. We discuss big purchases before they happen and plan for them. Imagine how much better life and marriage would be without all of the financial stress being added to the mix.

A good marriage also requires continued dating and alone time. By alone time I don’t just mean sex. I mean time spent alone doing things together.  Just last week we went bowling and out to dinner. Man I had not bowled in years, and it was fun. I was sore for days afterwards, but that night took me back to when we were young and bowled almost weekly.  We both took bowling in college for a PE credit and we were both pretty good back then. Now we are both pretty bad. Maybe after a few more bowling dates we will start to look like we know what we are doing. Dates don’t have to be elaborate and expensive, but they do need to be deliberate and planned.

There is no one answer to how do you make a marriage work. I think answers vary from couple to couple. I think the important part is that both people in the marriage realize that its not easy and it takes work.

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