By Helen Colella
Where have all the happy couples gone? According to television talk shows, they don’t exist. But, what does exist is: infidelity, divorce, fighting (both verbal and physical, a.k.a. spousalabuse), and interference from in-laws and so called friends. These T.V. shows do nothing to promote the benefits of a healthy relationship or marriage. They portray marriage and dating in an exaggerated, negative fashion instead of showing the positive benefits from a one on one relationship. What these shows should be doing is showing couples getting along, being considerate of one another and believing, as their vows advocate, their marriage will last. Or that their dating experiences are a preamble to what marriage has to offer them, individually and as a couple.
So what can be done? How can you protect your marriage or relationship? Aside from sticking to the commitment you made to one another, here are a few key words that can help guide you through a successful relationship: time, communication, affection, support, appreciation, individuality, focus, forgiveness, compromise and sharing. Here’s how:
- Always make time for each other. Never be too busy with work, friends, or family, for your partner. When things get hectic, make a “date” and keep it.
- Communicate your true feelings. Tell your partner what you need to make you happy. Don’t be timid about expressing feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger, or anything else. If you can talk about a problem, you’ve reached the halfway mark and resolution is at your fingertips.
- Show affection. Hold hands, exchange a kiss, say, “I love you” often, do small favors for one another, prepare a special meal, or invite your partner’s best friend over.
- Let your partner know you care. Give your full support to what ever the other is doing. Be proud of all their accomplishments.
Thank your spouse for doing things for you. Show your appreciation by reciprocation. Practice basic courtesies; “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “I’m sorry” work at any age.
- Remember who you are. Keep up your interests, pursue your hobbies, and stay in touch with your friends. Continue to share these things with your partner. After all, isn’t it your individuality that brought you together?
- Focus on one issue if you’re having a disagreement. Don’t drag in old problems or anything that’s not pertinent to the “heated discussion” or problem at hand.
- Everyone makes mistakes and says things they don’t really mean. Forgive and forget. Harboring resentment is not healthy.
- Learn to compromise. Don’t be stubborn, demanding to have your way all the time. Take turns; make your partner’s choice your choice.
- Give each other some alone time to read, watch a favorite show, write a letter, visit a friend, etc.
- Share memories, good and not so good. Taking pictures, keeping a journal and reviewing your experiences together strengthen the bond between you.
- Remember when and why you fell in love with your spouse and revisit those times in your heart, in your thoughts and by your actions.
Happy couples, lasting relationships and lifetime partners are realities. Just look to yourself for the right decisions and go beyond the TV shows interpretation of what married life is all about.