“Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person.” – Howard W Hunter
An off topic post today but an important one about marriage. This weekend Elizabeth and I celebrated eleven years of marriage together. As we went out to celebrate last night we discussed three principles that have helped us have a happy marriage.
If we were to give advice to a couple getting married our advice would be:
- Have fun together
- Manage the money
- Live by virtues
Importantly each of these principles requires a choice by both partners to work at the marriage. We shouldn’t go into the relationship expecting to change the other person but to become better together over a lifetime of love and respect. Marriage is to be worked at and developed.
Principle one: Have fun together
Early in our marriage Elizabeth and I learned to snowboard together. It was huge amounts of fun to attend weekly lessons and to then go and practice in advance of a holiday to Park City.
Today we ensure that fun revolves around our children and the time we spend together as a family. Ultimately we aim to enjoy our time together and plan in advance to do things together. We’re also careful to not over-schedule calendars on Saturdays for family time.
An important piece of advice I was given at 19 was to always make sure I dated my wife. These days arranging a date night is like planning a military campaign. Diaries have to be synchronised and babysitters booked in advance. However the time together talking and laughing is very much worth the investment in planning.
Principle two: Manage the money
I’ve been fortunate to work for some very smart people who have shared with me their tips for happiness. “Never argue over money” has been a good one of these tips.
We’ve achieved this not by being super wealthy but by being super communicative. We keep a budget and track expenditure. We talk about financial goals, savings and expenditure. Neither one of us carries the complete burden for finances it is a shared responsibility.
Principle three: Live by virtues
“The sacred bonds of marriage invite unity, fidelity, respect, and mutual support.” – L Tom Perry
Strengthening a marriage requires the adherence to virtues of fidelity, selflessness, forgiveness, respect and personal improvement. Just like a muscle, each virtue needs to be used, strengthened and stretched each day to create a healthy marriage.
Fidelity is a critical factor to building complete trust in a marriage.
Selflessness enables us to put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own and is a true act of love.
Forgiveness respects the fact that mistakes are part of life’s learning process. In a marriage we should support one another’s learning and not condemn it.
Respect means supporting one another publicly and privately in all things.
Personal improvement is not about making our spouse the best person they can be. It is about us improving ourselves to be the best person we can be for them.
Good marriages don’t happen by accident. They need an investment of time, emotion and energy in building the happiness of our choice partner.
Here’s to another 11 years of fun and learning!