Sometimes I think marriage is wasted on the young. The qualities that insure a happy marriage are those most of us only begin to master after going through many painful life lessons. I didn't marry for the first time until I was 53 years old, and by that time I had been through so many rocky relationships that I was "forced" into learning how to be a better woman.
Pain was my greatest teacher. I finally stopped using it as an excuse to feel sorry for myself and began to pay attention to how it was asking me to change. The arrogance of youth kept me very self-centered and wanting relationships to go my way. For a long time I neglected to cultivate and nurture the qualities that I needed to have a healthy marriage.
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Here are the five qualities I began to explore and develop within myself. I could write a book on each one, so I will touch on them only briefly. To me they are all necessary components of a healthy and happy marriage.
"Willing to consider new ideas; unprejudiced." When you are used to running your own life in your own way, it can be very off-putting when you're suddenly living with someone who has different interests and different opinions than you. You may find yourself thinking, "I can't believe he thinks this is a good way to spend his time" or "why does he always react that way, it makes no sense." These things are easier to tolerate before you get married; afterward you tend to take them more personally.
A major cause of conflict in couples is the belief that everyone should think and feel the same way about everything. It is difficult to accept or respect someone else's point of view, especially when to you, it just seems wrong.
You may feel compelled to correct your partner, pointing out to them all the reasons why what they think wrong and why what you think is right. How easily can someone change your mind about something by telling you you're wrong? This form of persuasion never works.
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Open-mindedness implies not judging what is right for someone else based on what is right for you. It requires that you put the judgment of right and wrong aside and accept and appreciate a different point of view.
"A settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions." If you have lived alone for a long period of time you can lose sight of what it feels like to not get your way. I lived by myself for 20 years before I got married, so you can imagine how comfortable I was making all my own decisions. With no one to answer to, I fell into a mindset that made me oblivious to how easy I had it. Even when I was in a relationship I still had the power of choice and lived on my own terms.