On marriage…it takes more than ‘just’ love.

**The second in my mini-series on marriage. I am exploring why I want it (or trying to), what goes into a successful marriage, and snippets of conversations M and I have had on this very topic**

I used to think you just need love to make a marriage work. To make it successful. You ‘just’ need love. 

Think about that statement for a minute.

‘Just’ love and the rest is turnkey? 

‘Just’ love and your views and lifestyles and outlook and effort and devotion and loyalty don’t matter? 

‘Just’ love and marriage just…happens?

‘Just love’ sounds romantic and all but…uh, no. I’m pretty sure that’s what led to my divorce in the first place (in hindsight, of course). That ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. M and I have talked about this on several occasions, actually. That marriage, to us, now, especially (after both going through divorces), means that while love is the catalyst for marriage and uniting your lives, a devoted partnership is the foundation for a successful marriage.

And in that partnership comes allowing of each other’s interests and endevours (sharing in them when it makes sense, but always supporting them).

It also means supporting them up and lifting them up when they need it, too. Pushing them, driving them, motivating them to their goals, and to your collective goals as a unit. It’s the give and take aspect of a relationship that I think really makes or breaks a marriage. It’s a partnership in every sense of the word.

It means the ability to see that person as the parent to your children…and believing that they would indeed make a good parent…and together, being good parents together. Not one having responsibility and the other…not. A team.

It also means respecting each other, first and foremost. Marriage shifts the priority from you-centric to us-centric, which also includes our families (something I didn’t really have in my past marriage – that respectful family relationship with his family), too.

And it some cases, it means defending each other. Standing up for each other. Being each other’s shield. (I don’t know how to explain this one…but I hope that makes sense).

It also means being passionate for each other and about each other. And not just in the traditional sense of passion. To just want as much for them in this life as we want for ourselves.

Marriage takes so much more than ‘just’ love and these are just some examples of what I think of when I think about what I want my marriage to look like. And ultimately, I want to be empowered in and for my marriage. I don’t want to just be a participant. I want to drive it, fuel it, keep it as fresh as the very first day, to our very last. 

That, to me, is what marriage is.

What is marriage to you?  

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30 thoughts on “On marriage…it takes more than ‘just’ love.

  1. Great post and reflection on what marriage is. I definitely see it as becoming a team, a unity. You have to have your own personalities of course, but the key is that you work together, you encourage, you share, and it’s all reciprocal.

    1. Exactly. Reciprocal is a great word. One I was searching for to convey some of this. I am so glad you and Jason have this. It is SO SO evident 🙂

  2. I think you make such a good point. You can’t just sign that paper, say “I love you” and hope it all goes smoothly. It is so much more than that. It is a compromise with a learning curve of lessons. Good post friend.

    1. Exactly. It’s not just I love you and it all goes smooth as ever. It IS a learning curve of lessons and compromise and learning! Thank you!

  3. Speaking to my heart! Today is my 4 year anniversary!

    I don’t know how what love or marriage is for everyone, but I know for me, it means Andrew’s happiness is crucial to my own.

    1. Congratulations! And thanks for stopping in 🙂 I love your perspective – his happiness being crucial to yours and vice versa! A good add.

  4. Great post. Having also gone through a divorce, because I got married super young and didn’t truly know my partner, I agree with your points. You absolutely have to have the love, of course, but you have to honor, respect, assist, and enjoy your potential spouse as well. Without that, the love really doesn’t account for much, does it?

    1. Exactly. Love can only take you so far, and the rest is really the onus of you and your future husband, right? It just doesn’t ‘run’ it needs fuel and passion and partnership!

  5. This is so spot on. Yes, love is the beginning but love, especially romantic love/lust, only accounts for so much and lasts for so long. Marriage is so much more. It’s about partnership, respect and support, but more than just getting along and being able to manage the household together. It’s about being able to lift each other up to be the best that they can be. I think…Still working on it and still figuring it out.

    1. Romance and lust/love DO only go so far, you are so right. Manage the household – another good add. And lifting each other up when needed. I love that too. I think we should always be figuring out out, don’t you? Keep learning and changing and growing together!

  6. Love this, sis. Obviously I happen to totally agree.

    Marriage is a partnership in every single sense of the word. It’s lifting eachother up, it’s sharing goals and dreams and watching one another reach for those goals and dreams. It’s loving with passion but also loving with tenderness and adoration. It’s fierce loyalty (which goes back to what you were saying about sticking up for one another) and dedication, no matter what. It’s never apologizing for your committment to your relationship — making those relationship investments that will last a lifetime. It’s all of that and more. Geez, I feel like I could write an entire post on this I’m rambly so much over here! Clearly your post got me thinking. 🙂

    Bottom line – I love where you two are heading. ❤

    1. I love your definition! You should write a blog on this too 🙂 Marriage is a partnership, simply put. And if it’s not, it’s not a marriage.

  7. Yes! Honesty. Communication. Trust. Respect. Friendship. Listening. Honor. Appreciation. So many good things other than love. Love is just the icing on the cake! 🙂

    Great post!

  8. Yes, you’re right about the us-centricity. I spend a lot of time shifting my perspective from me to us. After spending so much time alone and taking care of me, after a ROUGH relationship., I’m a little rusty on the us-factor. CB is much better at it than I am, so he’s been a good example. But really, I think that’s what it boils down to…that you’re love for each other drives you to keep the unit in tact, no matter what. Selfishness simply cannot impede on that. It’s a good lesson to learn. Unfortunately, I know so many who had to learn the hard way.

    1. It is a good lesson to learn. Work towards each other, while also maintaining yourself and what drives you as an individual. You are learning, with each day, you learn more, right? That’s the best feeling.

  9. Wow. You hit the nail on the head, my friend.

    While in Florida, I got to visit my grandparents who have been married for 35 years. (Second marriage for both of them. My real grandmother and my step-grandfather. Also the only grandfather I’ve ever known on my mother’s side. The other hasn’t been involved ever.) Anyways, my grandmother has late-stage Alzheimer’s and has no idea who I am. She forgot the day I got home that I had even been there for a week, living in her home. I watched her get angry with my grandfather for starving everyone (when he’d really cooked all meals for us). She’d forget who her daughter was. She’d forget who the two children were sitting next to her calling her “Great Gramma”. She’d yell at my grandfather nonstop for things like taking the laundry detergent out of the refrigerator for the third time.

    But the one thing she consistently said when the two of us were alone together: “I love Paul. He’s such a kind man. I can’t remember anything anymore, and he just continues to love me.”

    Anytime I think of the eternal blessings of marriage, I think of them. I think of his patience and love for her. I think of the fact that if she remembers just one thing a day, it’s always that her husband is a good man. He kindly smiles at her when she yells at him in frustration and confusion…and he does this all alone. Spending his days loving her…no matter what.

    Marriage is more than just love. It’s compassion, consideration, faith, loyalty, love, and so much more. I look up to their marriage more and more as the years go by. Herrick and I try to instill all of the above in our marriage every day.

    And I am SO sorry for the novel comment.

    1. Oh I love this story and comment, friend. It is both heartbreaking (your grandmother’s Alzheimer’s) and beautiful (their undying love for each other). Love isn’t ‘made’ that way as often anymore, ya know? I’d love a page out of their book. I love how strong your marriage is too, friend, I could learn from you!

      1. My marriage is by no means perfect. Haha. He was in the doghouse a few days ago. Has been a few time since then. LOL But I take that as a very big compliment. It’s hard work…and never perfect. But it’s real. ❤

  10. I agree w/ everything you said here! I guess it’s sort of obvious, but I think it’s also so important to keep your physical relationship strong. That’s easy at the beginning, but when you throw kids and sleeplessness into the mix, it can become surprisingly difficult. Great post!

    1. Ya know, it’s not that obvious actually! That is a big one. To keep the passion alive…because it can easily wane, and complacency takes root. The kiss of death sometimes.

  11. Marriage is so many things, and a lot of is not romantic! It is compromising, it is a choice, it is trust, and forgiveness. It’s delicate even when it is strong. I do not have a secret to a happy marriage, but what I know works for me is having a strong foundation (God), open communication, and respect and trust….it all goes a long way.
    You are right on the money with this post. That is why I think you and M seem like a great match.

    1. Your mix sounds so ideal for marriage…what works for you. Choice…yes, that is such a good one, one we don’t think of very often, but it is definitely up there! Thank you!

  12. Oooh – loving this series! This quote from Forces of Nature resonated with me: Quoting Bishop Jeremy Taylor, “Marriage hath in it less of beauty but more of safety, than the single life; it hath more care, but less danger, it is more merry, and more sad; it is fuller of sorrows, and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but it is supported by all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful.”

  13. My husband & I are going through a really bad spot in our marriage right now. I honestly feel like we are dealing w/ every problem that a marriage of 50 years has battled in the 1st year of our nuptuals. We have been together almost 5 yrs, but married only 16 months. In these few short months we have relocated, had a child, had to help my 7 yr old adjust to the whole idea of a new step father, new brother, new house, etc… We have taken some very significant financial blows, my husband has a very intrusive mother that lives too close, i have a unstable relationship w my mother who lives too far away, I have had some health problems, & well, the list goes on, but you get the point! We have been working against each other & constantly fight. Its gotten so bad that we have seperated twice. Both were very short lived as I realized its very difficult to manage 2 children & a home especially since I am a full time mom & student; so, i dont work. And, my husband did not like being away from us & single as much as he had anticipated…the grass is not as green as he had thought so to speak. I have been reading & searching & reading & desperately trying to find the answer bc at the end of the day despite it all I do love him & he is a great man & father. We just got dealt a different & less pleasant hand than we had expected! And, I just tell myself that this is ok…its a blessing…God has decided to test us from the starting line. He has opted to give us all of our trials in one big package & if we can pass we will rise up stronger & he will reward us w a life full of happiness & the marriage we dreamed of!!! So, your article really made sense to me & forced me to look at myself instead of my husband. In the beginning I actively tried to be a good wife & I wanted to “love” him, but I gave that up somewhere in the chaos. I have focus so much of my energy on what he is not doing “right” that ive not given thought to my faults. In my opinion you talked about the basic components of love! What is love??? Its respects, compassion, a willingness to forgive, empathy& everything else you mentioned!!! So, then I realized that YES love is enough bc that is the definition of love!!! Thank you!

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