or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Question for those of you who are in happy marriages...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Question for those of you who are in happy marriages...

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 

General question - for those who are in happy marriages, what do you think makes it happy?  What makes it work?

 

My parents divorced when I was a teen, and although I had several long term relationships in University, they never worked out.  I ended up getting married, but for the wrong reasons and now my marriage hasn't worked out.  It occurred to me that growing up, I didn't have a very good model for how a good marriage is supposed to work, and I didn't end up figuring it out in my own marriage.

 

So what makes your marriage work?  What makes it successful? How do you make a good marriage?  What do you look for in a partner and what role do you play in making the marriage work?

post #2 of 60

Well, I'm on my second marriage. (My ex evolved into an emotionally abusive drug addict. I made some mistakes, but I couldn't have saved the marriage, even if I hadn't. Oh - and he also came out of the closet about 5-6 years ago, so...yeah.)

 

I'm very happy. What makes it work? We both consider the other's feelings and perceptions. I don't assume my crappy day with the kids was worse than his crappy day at work, and vice versa. We both try our best, and we both accept that sometimes, one party's "best" is better than the other's. We don't keep score. When we're irritated by little things, we remind ourselves of all the big things we love and appreciate. We make each other a priority, in both big and little ways...and understand when there are times when that's not really possible.

 

What do I look for? I don't really know. I fell for my ex while we were still in high school, because he seemed to appreciate me for what I was. I was a bit of a freak at my high school, and my ex liked all the things everybody else seemed to hate. We were just really, really good friends - same taste in music, mostly the same taste in movies (except that he liked horror movies, and I never have), similar interests, compatible groups of friends, etc. We were together for almost seven years before we got married.  It was just...really, really comfortable, yk? (And, now, 13 years after the break-up, I can still engage in conversation with him on a "chit chat" level more comfortably than with most.)

 

DH? I met him completely by accident. He was just a friend from a music forum, and now he's the love of my life, father of three of my four children, and the most rock solid man I've ever met.

post #3 of 60

I don't know what makes one marriage work while another doesn't.

 

I didn't marry dh for the sake of being married or for someone to save/serve me. I didn't marry him for financial security.

I wasn't actually looking for a relationship when we met. The guys I was attracted to tended to be slightly non-mainstream and funny.

 

I instantly felt very comfortable with dh in a way I haven't with anyone else ever. I feel like I can tell him anything.

Since we have been married (13 years) I have held a traditional support/nurturing role but not like dh is my child. I don't tell him what to do or baby him.

 

Dh has had issues with severe anxiety and I know I make him feel safer somehow... kind of an anchor.

I just think we just bring out the best in each other. We have helped each other grow as people.

 

I genuinely like being with dh. He is affectionate, intelligent and funny. He is pretty responsible and loyal I would say. He doesn't drink, smoke or use drugs. He is usually easy going. He makes me feel loved and desirable.

 

We share common interests but don't agree on absolutely everything.

 

I don't assume dh can read my mind. I don't play games or hint. I tell him right out what I want and feel. I listen. I try to understand what he wants and feels.

 

I don't know if that helps.

post #4 of 60

My partner and I have been together for over 20 years now. And I can probably sum up our longevity as a couple by saying that we have more to learn by staying in the relationship than by leaving it. As long as that remains true, we'll stay together.

 

(Actually, we did break up and get back together at one point, but as neither of us dated other people during that hiatus, which lasted about 18 months, we now consider it another chapter of our relationship.)

 

Are we happy together? Yes, most of the time. We like each other, we have similar goals, we are a great parenting team, we are never bored. We've been through a lot together. We keep growing.

post #5 of 60

My wife makes me laugh, and I make her laugh.  We enjoy each other's company.  We both believe that it is important to have our own interests and friends and to spend time doing things separately.  We love being together, but we don't have to always be together.  We have quite a bit in common and similar backgrounds and values.  When we started dating we were both ready for a relationship and we were both looking for marriage and a family.  I think the fact that we had both been through therapy and some bad relationships taught us a lot about what we wanted in a relationship and how to be in one.  Communication is very important to us.  We don't believe in leaving things unsaid so that sores fester and become something bigger later.  We are different in many ways, but our skills complement each other's so that we make one great whole.  Marriages take work for sure, but there's no one else I would rather put in the effort for.  It's worth it.  I would say if you don't feel like it's worth working on a relationship, it's not worth staying in. 

post #6 of 60

He's a good person, a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good friend.  What makes our marriage work is that because all of those aforementioned things he is are subjective, he tries to be a good person, man, friend and husband to me, and a good father to our child.  I also think our shared commitment to a lifetime marriage is very helpful.  Divorce is not an option for us.  I don't judge it, but I won't do it.  He feels the same way.  We knew this getting married to each other.  We're going to be married, so we might as well not be miserable.  My means of keeping my end of the marriage up is to keep him happy to be married to me, usually.  Some days he probably can't stand me.  That's OK as long as those days are not the majority.  It's as a little as wearing lip gloss when he comes home from work and as big as knowing when I'm laughing at him too much and stopping the laughing.  We do not stop trying.

You should know, I've been married since 2008 so I am a real expert on this subject.  winky.gif

But seriously, sadly we see people who are married as long or a shorter amount of time than us and their marriages are already visibly crumbling.  I intend to teach our child(ren) that we marry for life.  There is something enriching about a lifetime commitment simply because.

Edited to add/  I have a good, strong example of lifetime marriages in my family (21 marriages, 3 divorces, 2 involved abuse), but not all of them are happy.  The unhappy marriages seem to involve a lot of jerky behavior.  So my impression is that marriages work best when people are not jerks.

Whoops, forgot to add my generation to the marriage list. 

post #7 of 60
Common interests and hobbies that we do together and enough separate hobbies and interests that we aren't always tied at the hip. We have a joke about "low expectations", too. Meaning, we try not to get worked up over "how this is supposed to be" and focus instead on what works for us. We read similar books, though not the same ones all the time. We share chores and he was a great parent for the little kids. And for the teens, he's such a philosopher that they seek out his opinion on things sometimes rather than coming to me who might over react on their pontifications of life.

Our sex drives are a bit mismatched, so we have to "give and take" some on that issue. Mine high, his low.

And sometimes we are little too yin-yang. Meaning .. what makes it go can also drive you a bit bonkers but we get through.

We met in Latin class in high school. Within seconds of speaking to him, I knew my future was with this man.

We keep trying new things. We've taken dance classes, we've learned to snowshoe. He wants to try Japanese archery, so I'm trying to find us a class. Not only are these things typically, "date" times but they give us more shared experiences together.

And we've been together long enough to have had really good years and really bad years, so we can weather the storms. We celebrate 25 years this summer. I'm quite happy about that.
post #8 of 60

Oh - a couple of people mentioned it, but I don't think I did...dh can make me laugh, or at least smile, under almost any circumstances. I find that to be very, very important.

post #9 of 60
I learned many aspects of a healthy marriage from the example of my parents, but also found some traits of my parent's marriage undesirable. I worked to make sure that I could change those traits, and I put the good ideas and practices to work in my own marriage.

My husband, on the other hand, learned how to have a strong marriage by NOT following his parent's example. His mom has been married four times and his father three times (his third marriage is a strong and happy one). My husband really wanted to find a strong, lasting, passionate, and respectful love. He has always gone his own way, so thinking about his own habits and behaviors and adopting the ones he wants has never been a problem.
post #10 of 60

My dh and I both have parents that have stayed together.  All of our grandparents have had good, strong marriages as well.  I don't mean to say that a long marriage = a happy one, but it did appear that our families have had happy marriages.  I do think we learned a lot from our parents.  That being said, there are things that work for my parents that wouldn't work for me.  I have found solutions to some problems by looking at dhs parents or by coming up with our own solutions.  DH and I started dating in high school and got married at 21.  We came from two different faiths (Catholic and Mormon).  We have been married for over 17 years now.  This is what has worked for us. . .

 

It was necessary for us to find our own path.  Meaning, our parents/family are great support, but we had to learn to be each other's support.  We had to look to each other when making decisions.  For us, moving away from family for a time was great because it gave us no other option but to become stronger as a unit. 

 

We also learned to respect each other.  This sounds obvious but sometimes isn't.  Not everything needs to be shared.  Also, we each have separate interests as well as things we like to do together.  Sometimes we need space too and that is ok.  It isn't good to take those needs as if there is a problem with you.

 

We aren't selfish.  I really think that "selfishness" ruins a lot of marriages.  DH and I think as a team.  We are both "family first" in mindset.  I don't mean that we ignore personal needs, etc but that we try to see how our decisions will affect our family.  We try to balance individual and family.  

 

Also, you know the saying "don't go to bed angry".  Well, we don't believe in it.  :-)  Seriously.  Often, if we are disagreeing it is better for us to get a good night's sleep and then discuss it in the morning.  I think that adults (not just children) tend to be snappish, quick tempered, close minded when they are tired.  

 

Don't blame.  So we made a bad investment.  "WE" made it.  It doesn't help to say things like "why did you talk me into this"  Blaming doesn't help.

 

Amy

post #11 of 60

my marriage broke up. but i have around me a lot of 'happy' marriages and some very unhappy marriages. 

 

my own observation is this - first they do have something in common - either interests together or the other person interesting. there is some shared space somewhere (my fav. couple hardly do 'anything' together except watch tv. but they have allowed each others individuality and they live a life together and apart and have found the balance.)

 

for me inspite of everything i think there is ONE thing that makes a marriage work. provided there is some shared commonality.

 

just digging your heels in and willing to do the work. 

 

i learnt a lot from my marriage. about myself. and saved myself another broken marriage even though i passionately loved the guy. today i am great friends with him and his gf and am their regular babysitter after gparents. he was the kind of person who felt fulfilled taking care of someone. he had to feel 'needed'. that the person couldnt function without him emotionally. that is so not the person i need.

 

so truly to have a successful marriage - you really need to know yourself. 

 

some people come out of the womb knowing themselves. like my dd. and some have to wait till their 40s. like myself. 

post #12 of 60

My husband and I are very happy together, but it took a lot of work to figure out how to be happy together even though we love each other.

 

We are very different people, and while we both admire the others strengths, we used to despise the other's weaknesses. We've learned to back off on that, and just accept what is, and focus on what we like about the other one.

 

We both deeply value our relationship and feel lucky and blessed to have each other. I think this is key, and that without BOTH partners feeling this way, there's nothing to get a couple through difficult times.

 

We both take responsibility for our own happiness. It is not my job to figure out how to make him happy, and it isn't his job to figure out how to make me happy. This is HUGE.Back in the old days before we hit our relationship stride, I put a lot of energy into trying to make him happy, and found it frustrating when it didn't work. I also blamed him a lot for my own feelings. A turning point in our marriage was when I stopped all that nonsense.

 

I didn't know what to look for in a partner, and feel that I got lucky. We spent a lot of time drinking together -- we were both idiots. bag.gif

 

With hindsight, my husband's traits that have helped us figure out this marriage thing are character traits. He is honest, hardworking, responsible, not about his ego, and feels that being a "good man" is about how he does as a husband and father.

 

My part to play has been to avoid bringing all the crap from my family of origin into my marriage, to truly deal with my own sh*t, to take responsibility for my own feelings, to communicate clearly about what I need, and to give him space to be himself.

post #13 of 60

FWIW, I asked my dh what he felt made a happy working marriage and he said pretty much what I posted previously. So maybe having similar views on what your marriage should be like helps a great deal. Dh's parents divorced after 15 miserable years and my parents stayed married peacefully for 40 so we had different examples but came to the same conclusions.

 

I do think treating each other with respect is pretty basic to keeping a relationship going.

The unhappy marriages I know of seem to usually have one person's feelings and opinions constantly overriding the other person- also things like often putting down or embarrassing the partner in front of others, minimizing your partner's emotions, often speaking negatively to others about their partner when their partner is not there, breaking trust with your partner, blaming the partner for things going wrong even if it could not be prevented, treating the partner like a child, and hiding things from your partner often (your real emotions or things you have done).

post #14 of 60

Honestly, I think it takes both physical chemistry AND friendship to make a marriage work really work well. 

 

Dh's (rude) friend once asked him, "What do you and your wife [me] have in common?  Because I don't see anything."  

Dh replied, "We've got love in common."  Yep, I think that sums it up!  So, the friendship part of marriage doesn't have to be "we do everything together," but rather, "we really like each other and  find each other interesting."  

 

And if you're single and looking for love, stay off hormonal birth control!  (I'd use condoms).  Because the pill really messes up your "radar":

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201005/how-the-pill-could-ruin-your-life

 

I also have to say that when I saw dh (then boyfriend) playing with my niece, I instantly knew what kind of father he'd be (a good one.)  That mattered a lot, too. 

post #15 of 60

A and A…that was a great link!  Thanks.

post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

A and A…that was a great link!  Thanks.

 

 Welcome!  It is fascinating stuff.  

post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

I do think treating each other with respect is pretty basic to keeping a relationship going.

The unhappy marriages I know of seem to usually have one person's feelings and opinions constantly overriding the other person- also things like often putting down or embarrassing the partner in front of others, minimizing your partner's emotions, often speaking negatively to others about their partner when their partner is not there, breaking trust with your partner, blaming the partner for things going wrong even if it could not be prevented, treating the partner like a child, and hiding things from your partner often (your real emotions or things you have done).

 

yeahthat.gif We've been married 20 yrs this fall. It wasn't all easy and there were years when we didn't get along as well as we do now (postpartum hormones did a number on me for a long time), but we respect that we are our own people and we don't try to control the other. We do have in common a similar viewpoint toward life. I think he's handsome, but he thinks I'm joking when I say it. He's very self-effacing, very conscientious, with a dry wit. I'm a work in progress. We've been through a fair amount of life's ups and downs—birth of kids, deaths and long illnesses of parents—an weathered it. I would say our marriage is as strong now as it's ever been.

post #18 of 60
DH & I have been together 10 years. I was 16 when we started dating and knew right from that first day together that this was the guy I was supposed to spend my life with.
Our relationship works so well I think because we communicate with each other. Both of our parents are divorced and even though we were young (16 & 20) when we staryed dating, we both agreed to always talk about our feelings, and we do! We also "fight fair", give each other turns to state their case, ask questions to better understand each other. In 10 years we've only had one rough patch where we wanted to throw in the towel but we stuck it through and came out even happier!
DH is my best friend, my rock, he inspires me every day. We are equally the same as we are opposite. He is an amazing father and a very loving husband.
post #19 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

He's a good person, a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good friend. What makes our marriage work is that because all of those aforementioned things he is are subjective, he tries to be a good person, man, friend and husband to me, and a good father to our child. I also think our shared commitment to a lifetime marriage is very helpful. Divorce is not an option for us. I don't judge it, but I won't do it. He feels the same way. We knew this getting married to each other. We're going to be married, so we might as well not be miserable. My means of keeping my end of the marriage up is to keep him happy to be married to me, usually. Some days he probably can't stand me. That's OK as long as those days are not the majority. It's as a little as wearing lip gloss when he comes home from work and as big as knowing when I'm laughing at him too much and stopping the laughing. We do not stop trying.

 

Yes, character counts for a lot (maybe the most) when it comes to long-term successful relationships.   People really don't change that much (unless they experience a huge, life-changing event) and the selfish, 25 yo that does't put a relationship first is likely going to be a selfish 50 yo that still does't put a relationship first.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

 

The unhappy marriages seem to involve a lot of jerky behavior. So my impression is that marriages work best when people are not jerks.

 

This made me laugh out loud.  So true! 

post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

I do think treating each other with respect is pretty basic to keeping a relationship going.

The unhappy marriages I know of seem to usually have one person's feelings and opinions constantly overriding the other person- also things like often putting down or embarrassing the partner in front of others, minimizing your partner's emotions, often speaking negatively to others about their partner when their partner is not there, breaking trust with your partner, blaming the partner for things going wrong even if it could not be prevented, treating the partner like a child, and hiding things from your partner often (your real emotions or things you have done).

yeahthat.gif

 

I especially agree with the bolded.

My husband and I have been together 25 years.  We decided early on to always treat each other with respect - and politeness, which might sound like a minor thing but we think it can make a difference.  We saw couples who treated strangers better than each other and that negative behavior can become a habit or make small issues seem bigger than they really are.

 

I had a failed marriage prior to this one.  I blame it on his lack of character (he had an affair and left me for the other woman).  In hind sight, there were signs or insights into his personality I didn't pick up on; but I should have.    So, I think it is also important to really look at the person you are marrying and have a good understanding of who they are and how their past can affect a marriage.  (e.g.  I knew my ex had a messed up childhood...but I didn't understand how that could affect our relationship. Not that all people with bad childhoods cannot have good marriages...it just might require acknowledging the past and extra consideration/work for both people.)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Talk Amongst Ourselves
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Question for those of you who are in happy marriages...