This is how you stay together forever.
Locked and loaded, the deal is now secured: you're officially married. Now you can sit back, relax and live happily ever after, right?
Of course, you could kick back and relax, but that will lead you straight down a path to unhappiness. Trust me, no one ever thinks they're the ones going from a blissful "I do" to an ugly divorce, (or even worse, living unhappily ever after), but if you don't continue nurturing your relationship, your happy, new marriage will quickly find its tragic end.
You've invested a lot in your relationship thus far, so don’t slip towards the dark side. You can avoid marriage-doom if you regularly do these four loving things:
1. Keep your story alive
You've likely dated for years and spent a lot of time getting to know every little detail about your partner. How else would you know that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with this person, right?
You endured months of marriage preparations, balanced each of your unique opinions and desires, and got to your big day without becoming Bridezilla. You're feeling accomplished and a sense of completion.
Only, marriage has no completion. It's not a one-chapter book that ends with ‘I do.’ It’s a long, enduring story that is always unfolding, growing, changing and drawing the reader back in. The characters and plot change though your various life experiences together ... and challenges will always be part of your story. But, hopefully, you'll always be there for each other, always learning from each other. Understand that your wedding was simply chapter one of a beautiful story you're continually creating together.
2. Continue courting each other
Remember when you first started dating and you were living apart? You had to plan dates to actually spend time together. Now you live together and see each other every day; you don’t even have to think about when you'll see your partner next. But is your time together of the same quality as it was before, or are you just sitting together side by side on the couch binge watching House of Cards?
Don't take your physical proximity for granted. It makes your time together less meaningful. Life and logistics quickly replace romance and real connection.
Continue to court one another long into your married life together. Doing so gives you the opportunity to step outside the day-to-day and continually re-ignite your connection. Never stop dating! Take turns planning your date nights. Use your imagination to create fun, forever memories.
3. Honor your partnership first and foremost
Finding out that you're about to have a child together is one of the most magnificent and memorable experiences in life. With so much anticipation, joy, and change that starting a family brings, often the core relationship between the couple is lost in the shuffle. The relationship just between the two of you gets sacrificed to the new relationship we call "family."
But you should always honor and nurture your partnership as a couple as a unique and separate relationship body. The relationships between couples and those of families are so very different. Trying to merge the two will ultimately destroy one; which 9 times out of 10 ends up being the marriage.
4. Add "we," but keep "me"
One of my all-time favorite romantic comedies is Jerry Maguire. We're all whisked away in romantic bliss when he utters the words, "You complete me." Sigh … so romantic. But this is such a destructive idea that will never result in a healthy, sustainable relationship.
The idea that two people coming together result in wholeness is deeply flawed. It suggests that our only way to wholeness is through a relationship.
The math for a healthy relationship is 1 + 1 = 3. If you have two whole individuals that come together to form a couple, there are 3 relationships; your relationship with yourself, your spouse's relationship with himself or herself, and the relationship you create together.
To sustain a successful marriage for the long-term, it's critical that you always nurture your relationship with yourself and create the space for your spouse to do the same. The more whole you are as individuals, the more successful and healthy your marriage will be.
So, is happily ever after even possible? Of course, it is.
The secret is to actively protect your new marriage by consciously committing to a lifetime of nurturing yourself and your partnership. If you do, rather than being doomed your new marriage will bloom into the wedded bliss you hoped for when you said, "I do."
Diane Taylor is a relationship coach, speaker, facilitator and blogger. She is passionate about helping others uncover and heal that which is preventing them from the love they desire. Learn more about Diane and her work at ElevateLove.com.