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Relationships

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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