– People have different ideas about what makes a happy marriage. But, for many, the question is one they have not asked themselves. Or at least if they have, they don’t have a definitive answer in mind. So I think it’s worthwhile to look at how other people define a happy marriage.
Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee undertook the task of interviewing successful couples across America to find out how people define a happy marriage. They report their results in a wonderful book called The Good Marriage. Here are the types of things they found that go into the making of a happy marriage:
1. Respect between the partners
2. Each person cherishes the other
3. Each person likes the other
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It takes years of dedicated
work to bring this kind of relationship into existence. The good news is that it’s certainly doable; in fact, millions of couples have just this kind of relationship. It does, though, take a major commitment on both parts to continually work on the marriage.
While I say that it takes a commitment from both people, please recognize that at any point in time the task of keeping the relationship together may fall more to one person than the other. At the time, it may seem unfair. But that’s the way relationships are.
Sometimes one of the partners goes through a period of intense personal challenge, severely hampering his ability to contribute to the marriage. During these times, if the marriage is to survive, it’s up to the other partner to keep the relationship together.
These are dangerous times in a relationship, dangerous in the sense that one person can come to feel so overburdened that she decides to end the relationship. Even the person facing personal challenges may decide he would be better off if the marriage ended. Some even come to believe the partner is the cause of the problems.
If marriages are to survive long enough to cultivate the wonderful characteristics listed earlier in this chapter, then both partners must agree to stick with the marriage until challenges can be met and overcome. Also in these times of great strife, the one factor that may save a marriage from dissolution is active participation...