Happy day after Valentinesday, which is called friendship day in Finland (ystävän päivä). So I guess if I was writing this in Finnish I would be sharing my insights on friendship, but I am not so instead I will share my insights on love, companionship and marriage.
I am not a romantic person. I do not believe in romance, I do not even know what is romantic. I do believe in love and marriage. I have been married a mere seven years, or will be this May. I have had a lot of time to think about the nature of marriage and of life long companionship and this official friends with benefits arrangement. Not as long as a person who has been married longer but I can say that I have had a happy successful run of seven years with my husband and do not see that changing in the near future.
I know two things about marriage and how to make it work: You have to pick the right person and you have to work on it. All the marriages I have seen fail have failed for one of these two reasons, they chose the wrong people or they failed to work on it.
Lets start on the foundation of a good marriage. Well I think the foundation of a good marriage is having good self esteem and knowing who you are and what you want even before getting into a potential life long relationship but I will skip that. Picking the right person is so important. It is a lot harder to work on it when you are with the wrong person, it makes you feel like you are just wasting your time. Sure, arranged marriages can work with the not right person but the basis of an arranged marriage is wholly different than a love based western marriage. All I know about are the love based ones so that is all I can talk about.
How do you know who the right person is? Well, my husband was my really good friend and we had fun together. He was caring interesting and reliable. I saw in him the qualities I wanted in a life long companion. The partnership, the sharing of responsibilities, the support of the decisions I made and not making them for me. He was truthful in his opinions but kind. Most of all he was nice and he was my friend. He also was interesting so I could see not getting bored with him. I mean the important part for everyone is seeing the qualities you want and need in a spouse and being able to put up with them through the years. Also it is important to accept that they may not change. Their flaws may persist until they die. You cannot change this person. They may change but if there are qualities that are just plain deal breakers, and marriage is too important of a commitment to just hope they will go away. If he sleeps around on you before marriage, he will keep going after. I mean marriage is not some magical thing that changes everything for the better. It is a gate you walk through together but all the same stuff will be on the other side. There will still be pretty girls and hot guys and you will still notice them so nothing changes, you just make a decision and that is all. YOU make a decision, you do not know what the other person is thinking. You cannot expect your spouce's behavior to change one bit. So, as the most annoying psychologist on television says “past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.”
Let me tell you a story about choosing the wrong person. It is not really my story to tell, but I have my husband's permission to tell it. He has been married before and they were wrong for each other. It was a marriage that should never have happened. He does not even remember who proposed and how and how they arrived at a relationship. I guess it just kind of slid there from comfort and the craving for companionship. When they met he was living in a small town with his grandmother and had no car and was miserable and she had a car and was willing to get him out of town. They had a lot of common interests when they met and he liked her friends and they became his friends so a great time was had when they went out. They both wanted to be paired up, I guess, I cannot speak for her. So they got closer, moved in together and eventually married. You think, common friends+common interests+good times=good match. Well common things are not the only thing there is. There are values, goals and personalities. They did not like the way the other reacted to things, they did not respect each others life philosophy. They argued a lot and the good times stopped. They were driven nuts by each other and discovered that what they had in common in their everyday lives was not as much as they had wanted to believe. They divorced with in a year of getting married. Now, a good match does with the right person does not break with in a year even with out working on it, barring some extraordinary circumstances. They sputter along for a while before disintegrating, where as a bad match with the wrong person can keep going for a while with work, but really what is the point? If you can't stand the person and you never really could and you just married her because she was hot, or you had the same friends or because you were lonely, or whatever, what is the point?
I also believe in working on the marriage. Even when you are with the, or a, right person you have to put some work into it. One sigh that you are with the right person is that you want to work on it instead of avoiding it because you do not want to lose that specific person. If you just don't want to be alone, that person could be the wrong person, or you need some help. Working on it means talking about problems before they become problems. Never letting the marriage get to the point of divorce or of needing marriage counseling. I mean, marriage counseling is good, but you can't just let things go and then think, we can just work t out later with a therapist. By the time you have deep rooted resentments that you cannot talk about with out a professional mediator, it may be too late.
My husband and I have had some problems, but we usually can talk them out and most of our fight are out of frustration because we thought the other person's tone was condescending or impatient so the other gets a condescending or impatient tone and then we argue about it. There are also the arguments about me not getting hints. He thinks I just don't care about what he wants, I think I am just not a mind reader so he should just tell me already! We really have a good old shouting row very rarely. I think the secret is we talk about our problems and accept the other's short comings. He is not perfect, and I most certainly am not so we just have to deal with it. He is my best friend and I love spending time with him. He is still interesting, and funny, and sexy and very very nice. Most of all he tries to be a good husband, it is very cute.