I think it was right before we got married that I read this book. Great list of “flags” to go through in conversation with your significant other before, and even after, you marry. I don’t believe anything covered in the book is an outright “deal breaker” for a relationship as I believe most sources of conflict in marriage, like those listed in this book, can be worked out. And frankly, I think they SHOULD be worked out else you just bring the same issues into your next relationship. As my first wedding anniversary is in one week, I thought I’d do a series of posts through each of the chapters and share how things went in this first year of marriage.
…Being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage.
This is so so so SO true. We’ve lost the meaning of what “love” is. We can interchangeably say “I LOVE my new shoes” and “I love you”. If all love seems to be is a fantastic chemical reaction in your brain that triggers intense feelings of joy, passion and butterflies…and this is what Hollywood’s romantic comedies make of love…then be prepared for a bit of a reality shocker. (It’s also possibly why gym memberships tend to outlast Hollywood marriages.) While these intense feelings are real, it’s not a deep binding kind of love that will last through the trials marriage brings.
The book lists these foundational pieces to have in place for marriage: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical foundations. Intimacy on each of these levels is essential though I personally consider physical intimacy as one of the least important pieces for binding a relationship together. I’m not saying it’s not important at all as I don’t think marrying someone you couldn’t imagine yourself kissing will be a bit of a problem….but what I mean is that an accident or illness, heck, even gravity, changes a person’s physical attractiveness immediately if not in a decade or so. Don’t build a marriage on something so temporary. Also, when looking at emotional intimacy, I’m not referring to personal happiness….rather, it’s the mutual sense of security and acceptance. (I’ve heard it said, and I believe this to be true, that pursuing personal happiness at all costs is a sure way for no one to be happy.)
In my own Story, there have certainly been some arguments this first year where both Skywalker and I have felt intense emotions of hurt that leads to questions of “was this a mistake?” I would not allow myself to entertain a second thought of that nature because I think the more thoughts are kept in the mind, the more readily it can be spoken. And a word once spoken is as easy to take back as gathering a bag of feathers opened to the wind. What I turned my thoughts to was something framed in my mind from the first day of our dating relationship: My answer to the question of what commitment meant to me. (Yes, Skywalker asked what commitment meant to me before even asking me to be his girlfriend. Impressive no?) Commitment was to put whatever thought, time and money it took to make the relationship work. He held the same definition of commitment…which is what enabled us to work through the conflict, beyond just compromising to maintain status quo, into a new, deeper level of love and commitment to each other.
And I think THAT is the main foundational piece to building a successful marriage…not feelings of “love”.