By Ray Knapp
My wife and I are heading to Atlanta today for my granddaughter’s wedding and I’m supposed to give a short speech at the wedding; kind of a pep talk on what it takes to have a great and lasting marriage.
My granddaughter is an intelligent girl, with charm and wit. Besides being beautiful, she’s headstrong and doesn’t compromise easily. Mature for a young woman, she has a good job with opportunities for advancement. Her husband to be, has similar qualities, and you can just picture a happy and lasting marriage for the two of them, excepting that “not compromising easily,” while a virtue – can also cause problems. So…with my experience and wisdom, I’m going to give them advice for a great marriage.
First, forget you have a cell phone when you’re together and do a lot of talking. It’s not like having to talk all the time and drive your partner crazy, but you must be able to communicate on some common issues. Also try to put your partner’s needs first like, “What can I do today to make her/his life a little easier or more enjoyable?”
I know that a husband and wife’s “Date Night,” is cliché, but it really helps a marriage, especially if you keep your phone turned off when you’re out. And in time, when a precious child or children come into your life, and their energy is at the point of getting on your nerves, a date night without them is almost mandatory.
Though working to be the best spouse you can be, marriage is not all about your partner. It is about you as well. At times everyone needs their own space; giving each other plenty of time for just them is the single most important reason that some marriages survive. I’ve heard people (men at least) say: “She just smothers me – won’t let me out of her sight.” I’m sure that’s true for either sex. Everyone has to have some “Me” time, where you can go fishing, or whatever interest, or hobby you have. A “Girls’ Night Out,” doesn’t mean women are out looking for another man, it’s the companionship of a few girlfriends to talk, laugh and gossip with; an evening to unwind from the pressures of work and being a mom.
Another cliché you’ve heard all your life is “Don’t go to bed mad.” Well, I’ve gone to bed mad more than once, and my wife was none too happy either, but there’s a point where further arguing will get you nowhere. That is the time to just shut your mouth and go to sleep. Just know you love each other, even when you have a hard time liking each other. It seems like your mind works on this as you sleep and both of you wake up in a better mood come morning. After all, disagreements are healthy, it clears the air as long as you maintain respect for your partner; no name calling or bringing up every past grudge; stick to the point of what you’re arguing about.
Be honest with one another, “always.” A lack of trust and respect works to tear the best marriage apart. Don’t exclude your kids when they come along, but don’t put your marriage on hold while you’re raising them or else you will end up with an empty nest and an empty marriage. Never talk badly about your spouse in front of other people, (including your children) or vent about them online. Try to be their biggest supporter, not their worst critic.
Some heated arguments have happened between me and my wife because one or the other didn’t understand what was said; listen to what they are saying don’t just hear them.
My final advice about getting married is this: Don’t invite family and friends. They may love the ceremony, free food and champagne. But you could save on money, frazzled nerves, and unwanted advice if you eloped, flew down to Montego Bay, or some other exotic destination and have a private barefoot ceremony on the beach. You would be at your honeymoon destination with only each other to hold and make fond memories. – Just sayin’.