Investing in Your Marriage
All marriages, no matter how good, can be made better. A good marriage has some basic qualities. Both partners are totally committed to the relationship and are willing to invest time and energy. They communicate effectively with each other and know how to resolve their differences. And they have learned to be flexible. There is no right way to be married; many kinds of partnerships can work out great. However, there is a wrong way to be married—by not investing in the relationship.
Marriage Q & A's
Q: If my relationship doesn't come easily, does that mean I'm with the wrong partner?
A: Many people think a relationship is only good if it comes easily. In fact, most good relationships require a lot of work. It takes a daily investment of time, communication, and being there when your partner needs you to have a great marriage.
Don't get lazy about your relationship. If you stopped investing in your savings account, you wouldn't be very surprised when you had very little money in it. Relationships need a regular investment of time and effort to grow as well.
If you consulted a good financial planner about investing in your future, here's what he or she would tell you: Invest money regularly. The types of financial investments you make will change at different times in your life. When you are younger, you might have more money invested in riskier growth stocks. As you reach retirement age, you might switch your assets to more secure investments. How you invest will change with your life circumstances, but you must continually invest in some way in order to ensure a secure financial future.
These same principles hold true in marriage. Both partners must invest regularly in the relationship to make it flourish. There might be times when it's easy to have a great partnership (like when the stock market is soaring and you're making money without even trying). And there will be times when, even though you are putting forth a lot of effort, things feel like they're going downhill (like when the stock market dips). But hanging in for the long haul will virtually guarantee success.
To get you started on the way to getting your partnership right, let's address how to avoid doing things wrong. Below are the 10 most common myths about being a good partner.
MYTH #1: A good partner always puts his or her spouse's needs first.
TRUTH: If you always put your needs last, you will become frustrated and possibly resentful of your partner, which will hurt your marriage. You need to put the partnership first, which includes both of your needs.
MYTH #2: A good partner does not express anger when he or she is upset.
TRUTH: Learning to express yourself when you are upset is a skill that is crucial to good communication in a marriage. There is no reason to be dramatic or to raise your voice. After counting to 10 to relieve your immediate anger, try to tell your partner exactly what is bothering you as nicely and calmly as you can manage.
MYTH #3: A good partner always agrees with his or her spouse.
TRUTH: It is always important to listen to your spouse, but that does not mean you will always agree with each other. Compromising and agreeing to disagree will relieve a lot of stress.
MYTH #4: A good partner assumes that nothing will change in his or her relationship.
TRUTH: A marriage is constantly growing and changing. Throughout your lives, there will always be new joys and new challenges. A good partnership will accommodate these changes.
MYTH #5: A good partner can always anticipate his or her spouse's needs.
TRUTH: You do not need to be a mind reader to have a good marriage. You need to get into the habit of telling each other what your needs are.
MYTH #6: A good partner doesn't put too many expectations on his or her spouse.
TRUTH: It is fine to expect things from your spouse. When your spouse has an opportunity to do something for you, it will strengthen your marriage bonds.
MYTH #7: A good partner doesn't need to put a lot of effort into a good marriage.
TRUTH: The more effort you put into your marriage, the happier you both will be!
MYTH #8: A good partner is always willing to forgo what he or she wants.
TRUTH: The secret is to compromise: Sometimes one partner forgoes what he or she wants; sometimes the other does.
MYTH #9: A good partner always takes care of his or her own needs independently.
TRUTH: It is important to understand your own needs and to learn to express them to your spouse. A partnership involves helping to fulfill each other's needs, not just your own.
MYTH #10: A good partner puts all of his or her energy into making his or her spouse happy.
TRUTH: You cannot have a good marriage unless both of you are generally happy. You each need to put energy into making both yourself and your spouse happy.
You can make your marriage great if you are willing to invest regularly in the relationship. As you are reading this book, keep in mind that a GREAT marriage depends on good communication, real partnership, effort, adaptability, and total commitment.
More on: Marriage and Divorce
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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