7 Things People Who Stay Married Don’t Do:
1. They don’t blame one another. You’re both going to mess up, a lot. When the other person messes up, the best thing to do is remind yourself that it’ll be your turn soon. So give the grace you’re going to want in ten minutes from now.
2. They don’t limit their partner’s capacity for change. None of us stay married to the same person, even though some of us never get divorced. Human beings are nothing if not a bundle of change. I’m so glad I’m not the same person I was nine years ago and I hope that in nine years I’m not the same person I am today. Empower your partner with independence by encouraging and applauding their growth instead of ridiculing or being suspect of it. Trust that even though they change their career or hair or politics, their love remains.
3. They don’t make assumptions about what their partner’s role should be based on gender or societal norms. Not every man wants or is even capable of fixing things around the house. Nor do all women enjoy laundry. The best way to figure out what the other wants is by asking and then listening to the response. There are no universal rules for household roles. The same goes for sex, by the way.
4. They don’t idolize their children. Kids are awesome. We have two. I love them but not more than my wife. Kids make marriage hard because they demand an enormous amount of time and energy. One of the best ways to tank a marriage is to elevate the parenting relationship over the marital one. Don’t do it. You’ll wake up one day, the kids will be gone, and you’ll have no idea who your spouse is. Worse, you won't know yourself.
5. They don’t take divorce off the table. Jennifer Stanton Hargrave taught me this. Of course divorce is always an option. If you claim it’s not, you’re delusional. There are certain things I can do that would cause my wife to at least consider divorcing me. This is a good thing. Not much good comes from treating a person as though they are our marital prisoner. We all have freedom of choice. We should strive each day to earn the love and loyalty of our spouse with full knowledge they might walk away.
6. They don’t settle down. Marriage isn’t the end of anything. It’s the launching pad for a grand adventure where two people look one another in the eye and say, “This world is scary as shit. I got your back, no matter what.” Then they go into the world ever more confident to chase their dreams because they're not doing it alone.
7. They don’t give up. Ever. If today isn’t how you hoped it would be, there is always tomorrow. Each day is a new day for growth and change and forgiveness. It’s only over if you say it’s over.