Keys to Our Marital Happiness

A friend commented something to the effect that it sounds like communication is a key part of what makes our marriage successful.

I thought I’d share my response with all of you and augment it in this post:

Yes, communication is a key part of it, as is mutual respect, encouraging each other to get together with our own gender at least once per week (i.e. Girl’s Night Out/Boy’s Night Out–if we have a place to vent outside our home we’re much less likely to feel the need to vent inside it), focusing on improving ourselves and our relationship instead of each other, shared values about all the stuff that is important to us (such as how to raise and discipline our children), agreements regarding money and budgeting (that took a LONG time to work out and was the source of a lot of disagreements over the years), knowing the minimum and maximum amount of time we should be together each week (we’ve learned that if we drift outside either boundary we tend to grind gears instead of mesh well together), fidelity, and trust.

They weren’t listed in order of importance, just in the order I thought of them. The last two are at the end because they are so much of a given in our home that I almost forgot to list them.

I used the word “Happiness” rather than “Bliss” in the title of this post. That was accurate and intentional. Our relationship has two major imperfections: Beloved and me. (In fact, our wedding rings both contain two intentional imperfections to remind each other that we’re both imperfect and will make mistakes–and that we went into the marriage fully aware of that. Our eyes were wide open. No “Love is blind” for us.)

You probably noticed that shared interests and hobbies weren’t mentioned in the list above. While we both agree that it would be nice at times to share more interests and hobbies, we give each other the space to go our own way a lot. We tend to be loners in same ways. Heck, we don’t even have similar taste in music–and I’m a lyricist for goodness sake!

Beloved has ZERO interest in investing (the primary thing I do for a living), she is a big NON-fan of the types of genres I mostly write music for, and has NO interest in reading what I write on this blog and elsewhere. She’s never read it. Her passion for teaching special ed children is wonderful but after about fifteen to thirty minutes per night of hearing what happened in her classroom, my eyes start to glaze over–as do hers when I talk about my main passions.

We’d both love it if we were enthralled with hearing the news of each other’s day, but after nearly 33 years, most such talk begins to feel like re-runs. Very OLD reruns.

But we make it work pretty darn well despite the imperfections. And that reminds me as to another key to the success of our marriage:

We focus on what we LOVE about each other rather than the imperfections. Being grateful for all the wonderful qualities of our spouse goes a long way toward staying happy with each other.

In fact, I find that focusing on what I love about any situation, community, relationship, and organization goes a long way toward maintaining my own happiness.

Russ

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About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Family "Fun", Gratitude, Growth/Learning, LIfe Lessons, Relationship Lessons Learned and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Keys to Our Marital Happiness

  1. so communication is key…? Hahaha Just kidding! Wonderful post. I haven’t been in a relationship that lasted more than 8 years…but I have always suspected that a couple doesn’t have to share a lot of common interests and should do things apart from each other…heck even some separate vacations would be good!

  2. russtowne says:

    LOL! Yeah, something like that! Thank you for your comments. As far as the durations of your relationships, you’re just calibrating! A little this way, a little that way…

    And don’t forget: Communication is key! ;-D!

    Russ

  3. Andrea Kelly says:

    I love the idea of making wedding rings with small imperfections – how beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing Russ, it’s good to have a reminder of what’s important to focus on, every once in a while! 🙂

  4. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Andrea. I appreciate your kind feedback!

    Russ

  5. Jo-Anne says:

    Tim and I are in many ways very different we like many different things but we are often on the same wavelink after so many years together I will think during the day “I have to talk to Tim about such and such” and he will come home frome work and say I want to talk about such and such and it is the exact same thing I wanted to talk to him about…………it happens all the time…………I am happy with Tim and I love that we are different but so alike at them same time…………marriage takes a lot of work but it is worth it…………

  6. russtowne says:

    I’m glad that you are finding marriage worth it Jo-Anne!

    One of the hardest things I had to experience was finding that it takes two to keep a relationship alive, but only one to kill it. That certainly doesn’t seem fair somehow, but is true nonetheless. I found that out when a woman I was engaged to decided she loved another man more than me after all.

    I should have had a clue because it was the time when the song “Torn between Two Lovers” was being played hourly on the radio and every time it came on she changed the station. See why I say that I’m a SLOW learner? Sometimes even completely clueless!

    Sorry for getting off-topic. I just got distracted by a very short but unpleasant bumpy ride down Memory Lane. You know, the one with a sign that says “DEAD END” 100 feet AFTER the edge of the cliff…

    I’m glad that Tim and you are both working to keep your marriage worth it!

    Russ

  7. mindfuldiary says:

    I was nodding all through the post. Yes, communication is THE key, common values and acceptance. In our marriage, the most important is to give each other some space and have great deal of humour. To laugh a lot. Funny,we too share no common interest or hobbys, my husband and I. Great post!

  8. russtowne says:

    Thank you for your comment. I considered adding laughter to my list but thought it was more of a natural (and very desirable) by-product of our happy relationship than it was a pre-requisiite for one. I could be mistaken. I just don’t know how I’d force humor if I didn’t feel it.

    In the context that you mention it however, it makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    It may be a matter of semantics. Either way, I doubt that I’ve seen many happy couples who didn’t laugh with some frequency.

    Russ

  9. JanBeek says:

    Another thought-provoking post, Russ. Thank you! Bob & I agree with your assessment of what it takes to make any marriage a happy one: fidelity, trust, mutual love and respect (both givens – but never to be taken for granted), time apart pursuing our own hobbies- as well as time together cultivating mutual interests, shared values, and a focus on how to improve ourselves rather than how to “fix” the other. After 50 years, we have decided that the three keys to our marital happiness have centered around 1) putting God (prayer and Christ-centered devotion) in the center of our relationship, 2) giving each other “quality” time, and 3) listening to one another with genuine compassion and caring. Your blog generated a great discussion that resulted in those conclusions tonight. Thanks, Russ!

    • russtowne says:

      Hi, Jan. I’m glad to hear that this blog generated a great discussion between Bob and you about three keys to your marital happiness. I wish you both at least another 50 years of marital happiness.!

      Russ

  10. Elyse says:

    Great post, Russ.

    My husband and I have many similar interests outside of our work (mine bores him, his bores me) and so we have lively discussions. But there are the things that we don’t share that do drive me crazy. Music. My husband has limited taste/tolerance and I want music on all the time. I am outgoing and he is shy. So I keep a list of things that my second husband will have/do. When I get annoyed about something new, I add to my list. And then I am less annoyed thinking that I don’t really want a new husband — I’ve put up with this one for 26 years — why break in a new one now?

    • russtowne says:

      LOL! And who’s to say that the next one wouldn’t just come with a whole new set of flaws that only become noticeable after you were to marry him? I think after 26 years it’s likely that the return policy has expired anyway. ;-D!

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