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How Do I Make My Marriage Last?

Marriages that end early are generally no different than marriages that last decades, it's just that the couples who don't give up and stick together eventually learn to love being married to each other.
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Hi Ísa:

I am getting married in the new year, for the first time; I am under thirty. Now, tell me a few things I can do to make it last! Thanks!

Helga C.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, Helga!

I believe that the single most difficult challenge any newly-married person will face is the realization that their mate is not the ideal person they had thought him or her to be. How one reacts to this reality will determine the success or failure of the marriage.

When we fall in love, our brains trick us. We develop a sort of tunnel vision in which we see only his good qualities, and we become blind to his faults. Our brain chemicals cause each of us to actually become more tolerant and more caring. Time with him seems magic, and time apart seems interminable.

On the one hand, it's fortunate that we act this way, or we'd never compromise our individual ways of doing things and agree to commit ourselves to live with one person for the rest of our lives. On the other hand, though, we can often feel extreme disappointment when this consistently ecstatic, carefree feeling turns into the grind of routine family life. If you're not prepared for this change, you may give up before you settle into a much deeper and sustainable relationship.

Once the arguments begin, you may find yourself wondering if you've made a terrible mistake. What you need to realize, though, is that disagreements are an inevitable part of living with other people; what matters is how you deal with them. Marriages that end early are generally no different than marriages that last decades, it's just that the couples who don't give up and stick together -- for better or for worse--eventually learn to love being married to each other. Those who do give up because they crave the thrill of brand-new romantic love often are unable to ever create mature, lasting bonds with anyone.

Research on the subject of happiness has shown that your attitude matters. If you decide to be happy with your partner, your partner will be happy with you. If you decide to be unhappy, though, the relationship may go into a downward spiral. If you're bored with your relationship, your relationship will become boring. If you leave no doubt in your partner's mind -- through your words and actions -- that you glad to be on the same team as him, he will not be reluctant to express his love for you.

Mark Twain once said: "Love seems the swiftest, but it's the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century." Think of your marriage as a fine wine: though it may have a sharp intoxicating taste while young, as it ages it becomes a priceless treasure that can be appreciated on many levels.

Ísa