The key to a happy, successful marriage is not love. In fact, love is not even in the top 5 most important ingredients.
I will list the 7 tenets in order from least important to most important.
7. Taking Time Out For Each Other
You have to remember you are together. You have to remind each other that you gave your lives to each other. Many couples do date nights, but that’s not strictly what I’m talking about. Maybe watch a movie together, just with each other. Maybe go on a romantic walk. It has to be something, and regularly. Having a routine once per week, or even daily, is necessary to remind you both why you fell in love, because the stresses of life can make you forget. No matter how intense your love for each other, the outside world can still make you forget from time to time. Take the time to remember.
6. Being In Love
This is where the love itself comes in. Why is love so low on the list? Well, if love were enough, we wouldn’t see so many marriages, or relationships in general, fail. The evidence is clear that love alone clearly isn’t enough. There are logical reasons for this, though. You are sharing a life with each other. Life has too much going on in it, and ‘life’ usually means decades, which is a long time. Let’s all face the music here: Love is just an emotion. Emotions change and they fluctuate. We’ve all been through breakups before, and so it’s safe to say that we all know love can vanish entirely. If love can vanish entirely, for any reason, then it’s clearly not strong enough to withstand life’s daily bombardments of shit. Still, though, being in love is a necessary ingredient to a successful marriage. You won’t be able to deal with each other if there’s no love at all there.
5. Having Kids
Contrary to what my generation, and younger, believe, having kids is actually the most fulfilling experience one can possibly have. Too many people fall into the trap of believing kids aren’t worth the effort because, well, it requires a lot of effort. But nothing of value comes easy in life. Speaking from experience, and speaking as someone who wanted to be a father more than anything in the world, having kids is a greater joy than you can possibly imagine. And they’re with you for life. They’re not screaming, helpless infants forever, you know; not even close to forever. It seems people forget that a lot.
4. A Peaceful Location for Home
If your neighborhood is rife with crime, or if your neighbors are noisy (especially if that noise is mostly their arguments), you are far less likely to be happy in your own home. Living in fear (of crime) is an emotional weight. Living near noisy neighbors is an emotional weight. You are the company you keep, and that includes people you’re just plain in proximity to. You need to live somewhere that helps you sleep soundly at night, where you’re not afraid to leave packages on your doorstep, and where your kids can freely play outside.
3. Financial Security
Money fluctuates just like love itself, but you must work hard to make sure that during the low times, when your bank account isn’t as large as it normally is, that such times are still not very low. In other words, your financial low periods need to be higher than a poor person’s high periods. Money does not buy happiness, but it certainly buys peace of mind. Lacking peace of mind is an enormous emotional stress, and it will make you and your spouse worse people. (Guys out there: If your girl says your lack of wealth doesn’t bother her, don’t buy that, because she’s biologically built to want you to have bountiful survival resources. Also, make sure your girl is okay with you working long hours, if that’s what is required for you to remain financially stable, because she might start complaining you don’t spend enough time with her … while you’re working so hard making the money she likes to spend. Just being realistic.)
2. Sharing the Right Values
You both must believe in things, and not just anything, you must both believe the right things. Young people like to think they should be able to do anything they want, whenever they want, and that this also applies to marriage. The problem with that is simple: All actions have consequences. If you are in an open, non-monogamous relationship, that may be your choice, but it’s a damned foolish choice. That’s just one of many examples. It’s also not enough to believe in the right things, your partner must believe in the right things as well. I’ve actually been in a marriage where my wife didn’t believe in proper communication. I wish I was making that up. So, take values very seriously. If you and your partner cannot agree on the things you find most important in life, your marriage will fail. I will post an article soon on what the right values are.
1. Never Giving Up on the Marriage
Giving up starts before you make the choice; it starts when you stop trying. So, when I say you can never give up, I don’t just mean you never walk away, I mean you keep trying.
Even if you do everything else on this list no problem, life still has ways of trying to beat you down; both of you. As just one example, remember what I said about love being just an emotion. That feeling will go up and down all throughout the marriage, especially if it’s lasted 5, 10, 20 years. There will be times when you wonder if things would have been better with someone else. Both of you (yes, both of you) will find other people attractive, physically and personality-wise, after being together for years upon years. Anyone who says that’s never happened to them is a liar. We are all human. And this is just one example of the ways life will try to tear you both apart.
This is the number-one spot because no marriage has ever survived because it was easy to keep it alive. All marriages, yes all of them, face struggles. This rule is the number-one spot because every successful marriage was only successful because they chose not to give up. That’s really what it always comes down to.
Approach every situation with humility and consider the opinions and feelings of your spouse. Communication itself falls in to this number-one spot. You must communicate, you must be humble, you must never give up, and don’t be afraid to assert yourself either. Find a proper balance. I remember in my failed marriage, I had an epiphany one day that my wife was stuck in a permanent childish state of mind, when I pieced together that she still gets coloring books, collects dolls, and many other things. But even after piecing those things together, I still reminded myself: I married her. This is for life. Leaving is not a choice. And we have a child, making my list of legit excuses for leaving her go from 0 to -∞. (That’s minus-infinity.)