I’ve written many times before about how my first marriage crashed and burned and went down in a blaze of glory. Even after everything I went through, I still don’t regret my marriage or my divorce, for two very important reasons:
1. My two amazing children
2. All of the lessons that my divorce taught me
Now that I’m getting married again this year, I’m going into the experience a lot wiser and more prepared than the first time. In particular, I have figured out the single most important element in keeping a marriage together. An element that went totally unnoticed by me the first time around, and I suspect by a lot of other married couples out there as well.
The most important element in a marriage isn’t sex, commitment, fidelity, honesty, friendship, or fun, or any of those other things that we often attach to marriage. Sure, these things are important, but they’re really more like the glue that holds it together.
While glue is necessary to keep you together, what a marriage really needs is a strong, unshakeable foundation. The most important thing in a marriage, the one thing that is necessary for making it all work is this one not-so magic ingredient: Respect.
Respecting your partner means many things. It means that you don’t cheat on them. It means that you don’t lie to them. It means that you do your share of chores and help out around the house. It means that you don’t make jokes at their expense when you’re hanging around with your friends. It means that you don’t belittle them — ever. It means that when you fight — and lord knows all couples do — you keep the fight fair, you don’t call them names, and you don’t deliberately try to hurt them.
Married couples go through all kinds of rough patches. It’s inevitable that you’re going to experience difficulty at some point in your relationship. Ask any couple that’s been together for many years and they will tell you that there are times when it’s not easy and that it takes a lot of work. So get over the fact that it’s going to be tough — really, that goes without saying. But tough to the point that you no longer respect your partner? Then that’s when you’ve got trouble, folks.
Most importantly, respect is a two-way street. Respect just isn’t something that you give to your partner — it must be earned. So conduct yourself accordingly. Behave in the manner of a person deserving of your partner’s respect. This means — don’t lie, don’t cheat, and don’t like a knob when you’re hanging out with your friends. Ensure that you behave in a manner of someone who deserves respect.
There are ups and downs when it comes to love and attraction. I promise you that if you haven’t already, you will have times in your relationship when you’re not very much in love and you sure as hell aren’t attracted to your partner. But if you ensure that respect is always top of the list, then with some time and effort from both of you, the love and the attraction will be brought back to life. Everything is workable when you’ve got that strong foundation.
As long as you and your partner have respect for one another, then there is nothing that you can’t overcome.
About the author: Momma Sunshine I’m a 30-something gal writing about life (that includes being a single mom of two) and love (with a single dad with two kids of his own).