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Marriage Is A Choice You Make Every Day, Not Only On The Wedding Day

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Marriage Is A Choice You Make Every Day, Not Only On The Wedding Day

Most people are aware that marriage takes work– a lot of work. We know this. We’ve heard it over and over. We’ve seen the statistics on divorce and read countless articles telling us how hard marriage is.

And yet…somewhere along the way, we still become seduced by the fairy tale. I don’t know, maybe romantic comedies are to blame, or social media platforms that are littered with posts of drop dead gorgeous couples, frolicking, having fun and appearing to be engulfed in each other’s love. I admit–I am guilty of both. I love celebrating the love my husband and I share and I love seeing other couples who are madly in love. I love–love. But the truth is we only display five percent of our lives on social media. We hide the struggle, the grind and the fight that actually produces those glamorous photos and sustained our 20 year marriage.

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Marriage is a daily choice and not a one time event

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    One of the most popular misconceptions surrounding marriage is that once you make it through the wedding day–with all of it’s pomp and circumstance–say your “I do’s,” you ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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    In fact, most people spend more time, energy and resources planning their wedding day than they do planning the rest of their lives together. Marriage is a daily commitment. Every day you wake up you must consciously decide to commit to your spouse–for better or worse. Good, firm and solid marriages are not created through the images on Facebook and Instagram. They are forged in the mundane day-to-day dealings and through the difficult times. For every picture I have posted of us laughing, smiling and engaging in romantic nonsense there is a hidden moment of agony accompanied by tear stained cheeks, tousled hair and two people at their absolute worst trying to figure it all out. That is the plain, ugly reality of marriage.

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    5 Ways to achieve the true fairy tale marriage and strengthen your relationship with your spouse

    So you’ve accepted the fact that your marriage is going to be work. Now what? Here are a few very simple and practical principles–that if applied consistently–will greatly increase the likelihood of a long and viable marriage.

    • Develop and cultivate a team mentality— You are a team. The team is bigger than it’s individual members. Understand that you will be called on to sacrifice for the good of the team. Sometimes you get to be the star and other times you don’t. Learn how to “take one for the team,” because when the team wins–all the players do too. Selfishness is the ultimate enemy of marriage and the underlying cause of the demise of so many.
    • Accept your spouse for who they are and work with what you got— Marriage is an “as is” transaction. Good, bad and everything in between your spouse is who they are and you married all of it. Trying to change your spouse is an exercise in futility and dishonoring to him or her. They are who they are. Cultivate the good and work through the bad. The true essence of marriage is learning to love your spouse–as is–unconditionally.
    • Treat your spouse better than you treat others— This principal rests on the border of doable and insanely impossible. It is one of the hardest principles to practice but one that yields the most rewards. When you have a conflict with a co-worker, you don’t jump in their face screaming obscenities and call them unsavory names (if you do, you have bigger issues–seek professional help). What most people do is plan what they are going to say and figure out how to best approach the situation. Your spouse deserves so much more respect, leniency, kindness and understanding than any other person (except– of course–your children) in your life.
    • Make a plan for attacking heavy issues and learn to pick your battles— Your spouse is going to get on your nerves. Their habits, moods and idiosyncrasies are going to rub you the wrong way at times. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should argue over these mild infractions. Learn to let things go. Everything need not be a fight. When dealing with larger issues that vastly impact the marriage, develop a strategy and attack the issue not your spouse. Remember you are a team and the problem is the opponent. Find the right time, place, tone of voice and choice of words to ensure that your message and intentions are clear. If tempers flare– take a break. Keep your focus on the issue at hand and never turn on your spouse. Mastering the art of communication is key when trying to conduct negotiations.
    • Forgive and let go–Marriage is one big exercise in forgiveness. If you can’t forgive and can carry a grudge forever– DO NOT get married. Admittedly, some infractions are harder to forgive than others and forgiveness does take time. However, you must actively work on moving toward forgiving your spouse. You have to surrender the right to punish your spouse and absolve them of their wrong doing. It is the only way to ensure your marriage keeps moving forward and It’s for the good of the team.

    At the end of the day, marriage is for grown folks. It takes maturity, determination, tenacity and unconditional love to create and sustain longevity. Making an intentional commitment every day is the secret to happily ever after.

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    Denise Hill

    Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2021

    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

    We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

    A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

    So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

    • honest
    • reliable
    • competent
    • kind and compassionate
    • capable of taking the blame
    • able to persevere
    • modest and humble
    • pacific and can control anger.

    The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

    1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

    All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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    But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

    2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

    How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

    I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

    “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

    Abigail Van Buren

    3. How does this person take the blame?

    Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

    4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

    You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

    5. Read their emails.

    Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

    • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
    • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
    • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
    • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
    • Too many question marks can show anger
    • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

    6. Watch out for the show offs.

    Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

    7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

    A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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    Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

    8. Their empathy score is high.

    Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

    People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

    9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

    We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

    “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

    Stendhal

     10. Avoid toxic people.

    These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

    • Envy or jealousy
    • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
    • Complaining about their own lack of success
    • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
    • Obsession with themselves and their problems

    Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

    Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

    Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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