February 1, 2017/by Jane Romeo
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is in the air. Lots of couples will get engaged, so sure that each has found his or her “one true love” and forever soul mate.
But what happens after we snag the “Prince or Princess,” get the beautiful ring, plan the very expensive “fairytale” wedding and jet off to a beautiful locale for a honeymoon? Real life sets in. Suddenly, the person you thought was “Prince or Princess Charming” is leaving crumbs all over the counter, dishes in the sink and wet towels on the bed. What happens to marriage when the dust settles after the enchanted wedding? How do we learn “to do marriage”?
A new installment of The Bachelor premiered and my 12-year-old daughter and her friends are all talking about it. Recently, they’ve developed an interest in romantic comedies. This show is yet another that entertains certain ideas about romance. Twenty-five women are vying for the affections of Bachelor Neil. These women hope that after a mere 2 months, they will fall madly in love and be chosen to become engaged. I watched it with my daughter completely horrified. When the show first aired, I watched it and enjoyed the fantasy. But now that I have an impressionable daughter, the notion of twenty-five young women competing for the affection of one man they just met is not something that I want her to witness.
Reality shows and romantic comedies can be a beautiful escape, but how do we separate fantasy from reality for our kids? There seems to be more bombarding messages about the fantasy like the perfect somebody as the other piece of your heart lifted from Snow White. More messaging exists about your actual wedding day and how to be the “perfect bride” rather than resources on how to be a good partner.
Why aren’t we talking about what happens after the wedding? The hard work that comes with marriage, the compromise, the communication, and what the reality is like when the honeymoon ends? We are taught many subjects in school, but not about love and communication and the dynamics of being part of a family.
Last week I was in a nail salon and overheard a bunch of young women talking about one woman’s upcoming wedding day. They discussed the details of the day: the dress, the food, the music, and the big decision over hair style. It all sounded lovely but I couldn’t help but wonder if they had any idea about the essence of a marriage beyond the fun of the magical day. It begs the question: is this something that we can only learn on the job?
As we contemplate love on Valentine’s Day, here are nine rules about marriage to consider.
Marriage is forever. It may not be, but to endure the relationship deserves the biggest commitment. Prioritizing the important part of the relationship and letting go of the little things that used to be endearing and are now downright annoying takes practice. Feelings of forever may seem overwhelming.
Marriage takes work. You can’t get married without a commitment to working at it. Marriage takes sacrifice, compromise, and constant examination of yourself and your spouse. Being complacent can cause the relationship to falter.
You will not always see eye to eye. You will not always agree and don’t expect to get your way all of the time. Marriage requires compromise on both sides.
Sex will change. Busy lives, kids and daily stressors change your initial passion and spontaneity. Marriage takes work to keep intimacy a priority in the relationship. Sometimes you’re better friends than lovers.
You will never be able to change or control your partner. The only person who can change or adjust is yourself.
You will have conflict. Every relationship experiences conflict. It’s inevitable. Learning how to disagree respectfully with your spouse will help you and your spouse move through arguments.
You will both grow older, change and evolve. As your physical appearance changes from the beginning of your relationship, so do many of your attitudes, ideas, and priorities.
You may fantasize about greener pastures. When things get tough, there may be thoughts of trading in your old model for something new. Just know that the new model will get rusty and breakdown at some point, too.
Children will become the center of your life. Do not underestimate how much a child will change every aspect of your relationship.
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Jane Romeo is a Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) educator.