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Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

“If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

–Author Unknown

By: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
    Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr

    Shortly after meeting my (now) husband and we began dating, he was called away to participate in a week long training exercise at Camp Lejeune. He was in the Navy at the time and the training was a part of his job. Before he left, he stopped by my apartment to say his good byes. He said the usual–I’m going to miss you and I’ll see you as soon as I get back–or something to that effect.

    And then, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his car and his bank card. He gave me the pin number to his account and told me to spend whatever I needed for gas and any other shopping I wanted to do. I was stunned. I weakly tried to protest but he just kissed me on the forehead, said good bye and strolled out the door.

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    When he returned from training, he didn’t even go home. He had his friend drop him off at my place as we were so eager to see each other. When I greeted him at the door he scooped me up in his arms and held me in a long embrace. We made dinner plans and I gave him back the keys to his car and his bank card…

    Years later, while reminiscing about how we first met, I asked my husband when he knew for sure that he was in love with me. He said when he returned home from his trip to Camp Lejeune and saw his car and checked his account. “When I saw that you had completely detailed my car and had added money to my account–I knew you were the one. You returned everything to me in better shape than I left it.”

    We were married one month after that trip.

    How to make a marriage work

    When moving forward in your marriage you will face challenges and obstacles. It is inevitable. There are so many prevailing theories, teachings and schools of thought on how to make a marriage work. The reality is there is no one single recipe leading to marital bliss. You have to take a few very basic and fundamental principles and tailor them to meet the needs of you and your spouse.

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    The most critical of these basic principles is: Put your Spouse First

    “If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

    This quote goes against every selfish instinct that we as human beings have. Ego-centrism comes naturally. We all tend to focus on ourselves and our own selfish needs. However, the very essence of marriage and relationships center around the fact that it is no longer about you as an individual but about the marital unit. The goal in marriage and relationships should be to move from being selfish to selfless.

    It’s incredibly difficult to put someone’s wants, needs, hopes, dreams and happiness ahead of your own.

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    Granted, this is easier to do when we’re blinded by passion  — as tends to happen during the “honeymoon period.” But doing it on an everyday basis isn’t easy. And that’s what love should be. It should be making the love of your life a top priority — day in and day out.

    When two people in a relationship care more for each other than they do for themselves–they are on their way to finding true happiness. True happiness–I mean the deep down feeling of contentment, solitude and peace–comes from making others happy.

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      What does selflessness in a marriage look like?

      Let’s be clear… Putting your spouse first, in no way means totally neglecting yourself and becoming a blind puppet. Sometimes to ensure the ultimate happiness of your spouse gentle push back on bad ideas may be required. Especially on things that may cause them harm and more headaches in the end. You may have to encourage them to have better eating and exercise habits and walk along side them through the process. It is loving them enough to always do what is best for them–and sometimes that causes conflict.

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      One of the most significant rules my husband and I live by is to always treat each other better than we treat others. What this means is the same courtesy, kindness and tolerance we extend to friends, family, associates and strangers, we extend to each other on a much higher level. When you are angry with your spouse, before you speak, ask yourself “would I say that to my mother, best friend or boss?” If it’s not appropriate to say it to anyone else it is definitely off limits for your spouse.

      Find small ways to make your spouse feel cherished and special. Go out of your way for them every chance you get. Make them your number one priority–always. Marriage takes sacrifice and putting your spouse first is how to make a marriage work.

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      Denise Hill

      Speech Writer/Senior Editor

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      Last Updated on May 21, 2019

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

      If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

      Example 1

      You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

      You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

      In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

      Example 2

      You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

      People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

      You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

      Example 3

      You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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      The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

      Example 4

      You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

      Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

      If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

      Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

      • Understand your own communication style
      • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
      • Communicate with precision and care
      • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

      1. Understand Your Communication Style

      To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

      In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

      Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

      2. Learn Others Communication Styles

      Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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      If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

      “How do you prefer to receive information?”

      This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

      To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

      3. Exercise Precision and Care

      A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

      On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

      Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

      I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

      I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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      In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

      The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

      Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

      4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

      Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

      In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

      “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

      Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

      Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

      It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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      It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

      It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

      Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

      Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

      The Bottom Line

      When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

      I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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      Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

      Reference

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