The bride. The groom. The chapel.
Or none of these things, depending on who you are.
No matter what images the word “marriage” conjurs up for you, odds are it covers a few of the following thoughts:
- I want to get married
- I don’t want to get married
- I’m not really sure
- Marriage is forever
Even if you don’t want to get married, we still assume that it’s a long-term deal. And if you do want to get married, chances are you are a little nervous about the “happily ever after” part.
And titles like “You Never Marry the Right Person,” from RELEVANT Magazine make you worried until you read them. Though admittedly slanted towards a Biblical and Christian perspective, I think the article was an accessible, thoughtful, and opinion-pulling way to spend a few minutes thinking about marriages.
Now, it may seem odd to be worried about making married love last when I less than one year into my marriage, but somehow, it works for me. And I don’t think JHubbs and I are alone.
If you are curious about the state of marriage and long-term commitments today (and with such scary numbers, I hope you are) here are the three ultimate steps to take for a long and happy marriage, revealed over the next three weeks!
The first rule is….
Don’t love, make love.
Is love an external thing that we feel, an emotion, something that exists or doesn’t exist, something that is always present if it’s there but that is capable of changing, growing, and being explored? Or is love something we create, a product of attraction, shared intimacy, shared living, and commitment? Is it a catalyst, or a product?
Chances are, you first observed your spouse in much the same way as F. Scott Fitzgerald imagined the first kiss ever, originating when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before.
It was physical. It was conversational. It was something about them. And maybe there is the same thing about a lot of other people, but you chose this one.
It doesn’t matter if you can or cannot pinpoint the moment that love leaps from attraction to action. I mean, who really knows when that motivating, attractive feeling that tells you to pursue a friendship or relationship with someone turns into a relationship that satisfies you deeply, that you want to maintain and work on and share with someone else.
It’s only important that it does.
Romantic relationships start out with the same love we feel for a broad range of others. But what makes the relationship different is the degree of intimacy and intimate knowledge of the other that develops over time, the result of time spent together and the commitment to making a life together and making that life work, a commitment that increasingly moves up the priority list in your shared life.
Making the decision to marry in and of itself changes two people and transforms the love they have for one another into something different.
What’s different is that it is now love the creation, not love the lustful catalyst; the way love has been shaped and fostered throughout time, not the way it struck us in the beginning.
Muscular biceps fade away, mustaches get cut off. What remains is your desire to make your partner feel loved. And that is what will allow your marriage to remain.
The first step in deciding to have a long and happy marriage is deciding to actively make that love for your partner.
This series would not exist were it not for the generous ramblings of one Shenan Prestwich. Shenan is an overall awesome beer enthusiast, curator, and poet in the general Washington, DC area.