Best Wishes To All Newlyweds
Jenna Bush and her fiancé Henry Hager are getting married today only a stone’s throw from where I live and write this column. These words are meant to help them and all married couples in one of life’s most important journeys.
Commitment is strong in healthy marriages. With their utterance of “I do,” the newlyweds become each other’s lifelong first priority.
Unfortunately, after a short time other priorities begin to creep into the marriage. Work, other family members (including children), hobbies and other diversions can slowly blur the spouses’ commitment to each other.
One or both members of an unhappy relationship often rationalize their lack of commitment by such statements as: “When the children get older, when I get my next promotion or when we move into a bigger house – I can then refocus on our marriage.”
If “when” ever occurs, the couple often find it is too late. The erosion of commitment may make a return to a healthy, marriage difficult.
Couples in a happy marriage often describe each other as partners and best friends. Power struggles and need for control can kill a friendship, and these negative dynamics are absent in a healthy marriage.
Compromises and a lot of give-and-take occur in successful marriages so that neither husband nor wife feels inconsequential.
Healthy relationships are characterized by trust and loyalty. Each partner thinks about how his or her behavior and choices will affect the spouse. Partners in healthy marriages often ask themselves: “Is what I am going to do or say something that I can go home and tell my spouse about without any qualms?”
Closeness is another component of healthy marriages. This refers to how much of life the couple shares, including friendships, time spent together and similar value systems. Similarity in the couple’s backgrounds and histories can help promote these shared areas.
However, happily married couples also say that their backgrounds were dissimilar in the beginning of their marriage, but, as time went on, they began to think on the same wavelength.
This closeness does not mean that the couple need to be “joined at the hip” and agree on everything. Autonomy is also important in a healthy relationship, with each partner having the freedom to pursue his or her own activities and interests.
Although brief, I hope this message is helpful, and if these words should perchance reach the first daughter and her husband-to-be, I wish them a long and happy marriage.
Harold H. Lecrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2008