By: J. Marlando

As everyone knows, marriage can be difficult. First of all husbands and wives were raised by different parents, with different values and in different environments. Secondly, males and females are treated differently in school and by society itself. In addition to these differences, nature endows males and females with different purposes and different human qualities. And so, there are no two-peas-in-a-pod marital relationships. As John Gray’s metaphor told us, women are from Venus and men are from Mars! That is, we men and women are different not only physiologically but psychologically and emotionally as well. In regard to these differences, we might love the roses in the front yard but we will never love or appreciate them in the same way as our spouses do. This is true for any two individuals of course but especially so for males and females.  

In regard to the above it should be noted that science is not conclusive when it comes to male/female differences in terms of the way our brains are wired. Nevertheless, girl babies are much more verbal than boy babies in the crib and most authorities agree that young boys interpret toys better than young girls do. Young girls are typically more verbally expressive than young boys are, however. And so while we can say that social and parental nurturing plays a major role in our gender differences we can readily see that nature has made us equal…but different too.

A major problem for a great many marriages is that while husbands and wives fell in love with one another for being fully and uniquely themselves, after marriage those same individuals begin wanting their mates to be more and more like they are. Indeed, the most common marital howl is, “Why can’t you see things my way?” And the magic answer is, “Because I’m not you…I’m me!”

This is a major reason why the experts call the first three years of marriage the period of adjustment. It is in those first thirty-six months that each other’s idiosyncrasies are revealed. A lot of couples never make it through this period. They toss in the towel and assume they made a terrible mistake. The real mistake most have made, however, was that they believed they were so very much alike before the wedding, “Gosh, doesn’t it seem like we were just meant to be,” She says, “It just feels like we’ve known each other forever,” He answers.

With the above in mind, a first step to a loving, happy and lasting marriage is to CHOOSE to love your mate for who he or she is as opposed to what you desire him or her to be. In fact, it is probably safe to say that before marriage you whispered to your mate (at least a time or two) “I love you for being you.” The chances are you need to DECIDE to love your mate for that same reason again.

This is often quite difficult to do because the world tends to get in our way. That is, there are money problems, traffic to drive through, problems at work, the high cost of living to confront and all the other ups and downs and turnarounds in life; nose colds to hurt feelings! All these challenges and dilemmas have a way of showing up in our moods and attitudes. And don’t deny it we often take those sour moods and anxious attitudes out on our spouses. Because this is true, at least in general, how the heck do we create our marriages as loving, happy and lasting as we desire them to be with all the crazy-making stuff that enters and exits all our daily lives?

Well, the answer to the above question is, we make it our daily practice to be loving, happy and content in our married lives. As most couples that have had these qualities in their married life (many celebrating over fifty years of togetherness) will tell you, the way to make a marriage work begins with really wanting it to work. And, if you really want it to work, you have to work at it.

The question is, how does one “practice” a great marriage? Well, your practice begins with how you CHOOSE to see your husband or wife. I am offering a short list of daily affirmations to assist you in your practice. Keep them in your heart!  

Today I will know that in all our differences we are yet the same and, by knowing this, I will shed my cloak of judging you and become your friend and ally, I will remember to care for you and, from this simplicity alone, I will be given the deepest wisdom of our loving.

Today I will realize that you are no more lost or found than I am; that you too live in a world of uncertainty. And from this realization, I will know that while we might not always fear the same things, that the fear itself is as real for you as it is for me. Thus I will be reminded that you too are seeking safety as we walk our paths together.

Today, I will understand that you don't have all that you would have in your world just as I have unfulfilled dreams in mine. And, from this understanding, I will know that while we might not always want the same thing, the wanting itself is the same. From this my heart will remain open to your needs and desires just as if they were my own.

Today I will listen to you no matter how much or little you have to share. I will listen to you because I will be reminded that I too want more than only to be heard...I want to be understood. And so from my listening, I will become understanding. After all, the more understanding we are of each other, the more loving we become.

Today I will know in my heart that while we have grown older, we are mere children in a world that neither of us can fully grasp. Thus, I will be aware that you feel ever alone as I do. And, from this awareness, I will be forever on your side as a true friend and ally.

Today I will see that you are as confined and restricted by the duties and responsibilities of your life just as I am bound by my own. I will know that there are times when you must conform and comply, going against your yearnings to be free just as I must do.  And so, in the knowing this, I will remember that you sometimes need a special space that is all your own. Indeed, I will support this need as what is a greater gift of love than this?

Today I will encourage you to be all that you can be, remembering the neither of us can or should abandon ourselves for the other. I will know that while I want to become the best that I can be that this is your goal also. And, while we both will stumble along our way, I will be there to give you a hand up, as this too is what I yearn for in those times when I have fallen and need your helping hand.

Today I will remember that your tears are as wet as my own and the lump in your throat as heavy; I will know that that the pain and pleasures that you feel are no less than mine. By remembering these things, I will become compassionate, as what more do any of us yearn for than an understanding word, a comforting hug and yes, sometimes a pat on the back for just being me amidst a world of others.

Today I will acknowledge that more than anything else, I want to be wholly my imperfect self and know that you love me anyway.

When we realize only this much about our mate and. for that matter, ourselves we simply stop belittling and blaming the other for not always viewing the world as we view it. Indeed, we become able to regard the other's rights and feelings as we regard our own. And, by doing this, we lift the conditions of our love and become one for the other. What is more important than this when it comes to loving our imperfect mates?

Can the short list of affirmations really assist in making marital relationships more loving, happier and lasting? Put the affirmations to work in your relationship for only a few days and see what happens.