Friday, September 30, 2011

on marital "success"

In my opinion, defining a marriage's success is a tricky thing to do.

First of all, it may be a challenge to label it as a success until it's over - and unless I'm missing something, marriages seem to end in only death or divorce. So if a marriage doesn't end until one partner dies - does that make it a success, because you made it "til death do us part"?

The other option - divorce - would mean that my mom and biological dad's marriage was a failure because they did divorce. But what does that make me, and my brothers? I'd say we're all doing pretty well - and the marriage produced us, so does that "void" the failure and make it a success? What about no children - does that make your marriage a failure?

Or what about spousal abuse? Infidelity?

So yes, my opinion - defining marital success is tricky business.

In my definition - in my marriage - I hope to define success by a number of ways: are we dedicated to the health our marriage? Are we happy - independently and as a couple? Are we living out the promises we made (and continue to make) to each other? (I'm sure there are dozens of other barometers - but I haven't found them yet. I've only been married for four months, after all).

These four months have taught me a thing or two about marriage, though - namely, that I'm no expert. So when I read stories about real experts and their two cents about marriage, I pay attention. Huffington Post ran a story recently (interestingly titled "The Fine Line Between Marriage and Divorce") in which the author interviewed 200 wives who had been married for 15-70 years each. The article is an interesting read in general, but in specific, I found the section containing commonalities the most interesting. The author said that these three things led to the highest marital satisfaction among wives:

1) "The happiest wives have a sense of purpose and passion in work and causes outside of the home. Wives who counted on a spouse for fulfillment and sustenance were often angry and lonely".

2) "And the happiest wives don't spend a whole lot of time with their husbands... couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together".

3) "Finally, the wives with the highest marital satisfacation have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent about their husbands".

I certainly agree with these now - I need a life outside of my relationship, I need my "me time" and I need my girlfriends - and I think if we swapped the terms "wives" and "husbands" Scott would agree, too. There's more to me then Scott. There's more to Scott then me.

My aunt Barb introduced me to Kahlil Gibran the summer I lived with her, and I think his famous line is an appropriate reflection: "But let there be space in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love; let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls".

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