“What’s the secret of a good marriage?” This question was asked of my husband twice this past week as he spoke for several events in Arizona and Tennessee. I’ve attended bridal showers where each guest was asked to give the bride her best piece of advice on this topic and I’ve seen lists in woman’s magazines detailing the same. Both of this week’s questioners, by the way, were male.
The frequently given answers given are usually true. Can anyone disagree that laughing together is important or that commitment matters? Even when tips contradict each other, they have validity. You can make a case for never going to bed angry just as you can make a case for not speaking in anger but giving yourself time to cool off.
The bottom line, of course, is that there is not any one magical tip for a happy marriage. If there was, the divorce rate would be minimal. Yet, because the second person to approach my husband did so at a business conference, I began to ponder the parallels between running a successful business and having a successful marriage. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Most people start both a new marriage and a new business with excitement, grandiose dreams and rose-colored glasses. This is great, because it encourages people to take a scary, risky leap into the unknown. However, those factors are based on fleeting emotions that hopefully will be recaptured at moments in the future, but certainly not on a daily basis. Know that.
- Only a fool embarks on a new business thinking that while it may take tons of work and time at the beginning, a time will come when no effort is necessary. Expect to give your best forever.
- Outside and unexpected forces will intervene. An economy that crashes, illness, new technology, family crises...there is no way to know exactly where challenges will emerge, but emerge they will. Don’t be thrown by them.
- Despite #3’s surprise factor, you need to anticipate and make plans for difficult moments. If you’re opening a retail store or your business involves shipping, you may not know when bad weather will come but you should have a plan for bad weather. If you’re married, life will at many points make it difficult for you to nurture your marriage and you need to think about that before crunch time arrives. Plan ahead.
- Preparation and continuing education are vital. Hopefully, no one starts a business without a business plan. You may be a dentist or baking cupcakes, but if you have no idea what a profit and loss statement is you probably won’t be successful. If you think that whatever tools and knowledge you have now will be all you’ll ever need, you may have short, but not long term success. The marriage skills needed for a new marriage won’t carry you as you are blessed by children, as you age and as your economic needs and resources vary. Some of the skills you need will be out of your comfort zone. Make time and have a desire for growth.
- There will be failures. An employee will turn out to be a disaster; a ‘sure bet’ will be a dud. Your spouse will disappoint you; as a couple you will put your hearts into something that will bomb. Cultivate resilience and grace.
My starter list is missing essential elements and it could be doubled and tripled without great effort. What would you add to the list?
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Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord's Language
Internalizing the meaning of words like happiness, table, love and laughter
can help your marriage thrive!