Tomorrow hubby and I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. Yep I know – it definitely is a long, long time to be with the same person. But I’d have to say, it’s been a fun-filled, challenging, and an incredibly interesting forty years.
When we got married we’d only been a couple for two years and I was eighteen years old. I was young and in love and there wasn’t much thought given to our compatibility, our future or anything else in fact. This makes me realise how incredibly lucky I was to choose someone who was prepared to work with me to make our marriage, and our life, such a successful and enjoyable one.
Nowadays we’re so much more self-aware and emotionally intelligent and I got to thinking of the questions I’d now ask myself if I was in a relationship and thinking that the next step might be marriage. So here they are:
Question one: Who am I?
How can I know whether or not my partner is a good match for me if I don’t know who I am? I’d take some time to explore my values and principles, morals and beliefs. I’d think about what I want to achieve in life and identify my goals and dreams. Then I’d share all of these things with my partner and listen as they share theirs.
Question two: Am I accepted for who I am?
I know I’m not perfect and even I do things that must drive my hubby mad. (Although I can’t think of any just now!) But he accepts those things are part of who I am and the flaws I have are what make me unique and special.
Question three: Am I happy to be in this relationship?
There’s a saying that is along the lines – we are responsible for our own happiness. It’s not up to my hubby to make me happy but I’m really, really happy to be in this marriage. When he worked away from home I got on with life: raised our four brilliant children; went out with pals; got involved in community events; worked; literally danced int he rain and generally had a great time. This was all in the firm knowledge that when he got home, we’d to be together.
Question four: Does my partner celebrate my triumphs and successes or are they intimidated by them?
When you’re equal partners successes are celebrated no matter who’s they are. Both partners encourage the other to become a better person. When I got a job working away one summer, my hubby was so pleased with my success even though it meant he’d have nine weeks alone. (That’s nine weeks of cooking! That’s 63 meals he’d have to cook himself!! And yes I left him a cheat sheet xxx)
Question five: Is our relationship balanced?
Is one of us a giver and the other a taker? Or, is there balance in the compromises we each make, the effort we put into the relationship and the support we give to each other? Of course there will be times when one person’s needs are greater but I’m a partner to my hubby not a parent.
Question six: How much laughter is in this relationship?
I don’t mean you have to be cracking jokes and laughing all the time but you have to be able to laugh at each other as well as yourself. Even after forty years my hubby can still make me laugh and I still do silly things that’ll crease him up.
So question seven is: Do you work together as a team?
At the end of the wedding ceremonies I conduct, I remind couples that together they’re “greater than the sum of each person, stronger, wiser and happier together’. My hubby and I are two very different individuals. We have our own friends, interests, activities, our own strengths and weaknesses but when we pull our resources we make team GB! (Honest, last year, with the help and guidance of a good friend, we built three retaining walls, a concrete pad and put in an above ground swimming pool. No kidding)
Question eight: If my partner was a product could I sell him/her?
In another life I was a salesperson but I found I could only sell products I genuinely liked and believed in. Do you genuinely like your partner? I could very easily put together an advert that highlighted all the great things about my hubby: his sincerity, honesty and integrity; his amazing work ethic; his unfailing loyalty; his ability to bake bread and amazing mars bar scones and how great he looks in lycra…… (yes, he’s a cyclist).
Question nine: Do we share our plans and dreams for the future?
I’m a great one for living in the day. Ask any of my friends – I can never remember what year such-and-such happened. To me it’s all in one time frame, the past. Ans taking one day at a time definitely has its place but being part of a team means you need a plan of how your future together will look so that expectations can be met, revised or changed; even an outline is better than nothing. Will the plan change over time? Of course it will. So it’s best to regularly chat about what you want and why. Four years ago I wanted a new adventure. I was ready to sell up and move to France; hubby was more cautious and wanted to try before we buy. So the compromise we made was to spend two summers in France to see if we liked it before moving here. (I’m glad to say that decision went my way.)
And finally question ten. Why am I in this relationship?
There are lots of reasons why people stay in relationships that have a neutral or negative effect on them. Maybe they’re scared to leave or maybe they have no money. It could be that being with anyone, is so much better than being alone. Or is it because you love, respect, trust, and value the person you’re with?
Although scientists say it take six months to know you’re in love. When we meet someone for the first time, it takes only one tenth of a second to decide whether we like them or not. We have an instinct about them. We all have an instinct for what’s right for us and if we take the time to listen, our instinct will keep us right.
Being in a positive and loving relationship means you’re in a safe, nurturing and encouraging environment, somewhere you can laugh, share experiences, talk, bounce ideas around and find a way through problems. This leads to: less stress and better health: increased confidence and adventurousness; more goals achieved; and with each passing day you should both be developing and growing as individuals and as a couple. x
If after quiet consideration, after asking these questions and after talking to your partner, you decide that marriage is definitely for you, then open your heart and jump in. Even with all the preparation you can do, at the end of the day, it’s still a giant leap of faith. It’s a roller coaster of a ride but boy will it be worth it. Good luck and have fun. xxx
When you marry someone you become part of their clan. Every family has it’s values, principles and priorities. Some will align with yours and other won’t! I’ll just leave that there as something to think about!