Having identified my top five reasons not to stay married, I’ve been pondering some good reasons to stay married. These are my top five reasons that any couple would want to stay married. None of these reasons by itself would create a stable enough foundation for a strong relationship, but together they create a marriage that could last forever.
Of the five reasons, the only one that isn’t mandatory is the good sex together. I included it because of my own experience, but I have also talked to many people for whom it’s not true. The other four reasons together form a strong foundation for a relationship that can last forever. Without all of these four reasons working together, a healthy and happy long term marriage isn’t likely.
1. Good sex on a regular basis. Sex with a partner who knows the intimate details of how your body responds is heavenly. If you are willing to experiment with new things, you can have the best of both worlds: hot sex with someone who knows exactly how to push your erotic buttons. And sometimes, it’s delightful enough to have “comfort sex”. Like comfort food, comfort sex makes you feel all warm and cozy. I would prescribe sex at least twice a week. Not doing it that often? Try to jump start your libido with a “Seven Days of Sex” commitment. Have sex every day for seven days and then see what happens.
2. Strong and healthy emotional bonds. Romantic ideals tell us “the two shall become one” when we marry someone. Don’t believe it! To maintain a healthy long term relationship, you have to maintain your sense of individuality. When you lose yourself in your partner, you begin to lose self confidence. It’s important to feel emotionally connected to your beloved, and it’s equally important to feel emotionally connected to yourself.
3. Shared values. Core values are those qualities by which we lead our lives. They color how we see the world, so if you have different core values than your partner does, you will see the world very differently and eventually that will cause cracks in the marriage. It’s not necessary to share every value, but it is important to share many of them.
4. Genuinely liking each other. Do you make each other laugh? Do you enjoy talking with your partner? Do you engage in conversations that are meaningful? Do you enjoy being together? It’s not necessary to share all of the same common interests, but you should have a few things that you enjoy doing together. We tend to like people that are most like us, which ties back to #3 and having shared values.
5. Spiritually moving on the same path in the same general direction. Our spirituality informs our values how we view the world. Whether through organized religion or a broader based spirituality, having a shared life philosophy is essential to a happy long term relationship. You don’t have to be evolving at the same pace, but if you don’t agree on the big picture you will eventually run into trouble.
It really comes down to this: if you can find someone who shares your values and your world view and you maintain your sense of self within the relationship, you’ll be one of the few people who can make a marriage work well for a very long time. And if you’re going to be spending all that time together, it’s worth doing it well.