What makes a happy marriage? Who is a good choice? Who isn't? What factors are mandatory in a marriage, which aren't? My daughter and I have gone over this subject time and time again as she enters the dating world and knows someday she will marry. You can find lists everywhere concerning what it takes to form a good, healthy relationship or happy marriage, but are those your considerations?

At the ripe age of ten or so, I was reading a gooey love-struck romance comic book (remember those?) and on the back inner page was a column that responded to questions from readers. Should I marry this guy or not? There was a picture of this typical guy, dressed in classic clothes, and ten little A-1 identical little boys, all lined up next to the man with a notation about imagining this situation for the rest of your life, is this what you want? I will never forget that.

I finally married, determined I would marry once and never divorce like my parents did. Now my daughter is determined to marry the right person, marry once, not to divorce like her parents did.  What makes a good marriage? Ask someone who has a good marriage, for a long time. Ask those who don't.

If I were asked to cut my list down to some serious basics, I would list three biggies: Love, trust and respect. Any serious relationship is in trouble without all of those components.

Love and or affection includes as many aspects as the relationship itself. Notoriously, men need sex, women need affection. Both partners need to have a true and genuine favorable emotion for their spouse, and maintain it. More here on that.

Trust? Another biggie. More here on trust.

Respect. If that one disappears it rarely comes back.

Other items I can add right off the top of my head would be religion, location location, location, friendship, common interests and hobbies, life style, age, children, philosophies, values and communication.

Wiccans should think twice before marrying a born-again or a non-believer. No matter what belief you follow, we were truly not intended to be unevenly yoked. It doesn't work well.

Marry a friend you fell in love with, or, make friends with the person you fell in love with. You won't be friends every day and for all time, but it's easier to live with or make up with someone you like. You have to be lovers and friends in order to survive the changes of a lifetime, let alone a long marriage together.

Do not marry a person born in some strange far off state with parents living in that state while you were born elsewhere and have no desire to move to that strange state, away from your family.

He likes to bowl, you hate it? No problem. Send him bowling! Then do what ever activity you like that he doesn't. Just make sure that an activity you both like to do (together) gets equal time and attention. If it's an unhealthy pastime instead of bowling, like having the boys over while they drink too much beer and hang out in the garage telling tall tales, and you are not into this scene, you have a big decision to make. Hopefully before the wedding.

Age makes a huge difference, depending on your age. This is almost funny. Ask ten year old kids what age is acceptable to marry (now) and you will hear "ten or eleven." Ask a teens or twenties what range is acceptable and you will hear about a five to ten year difference. Ask the fourty to fifties groups and you get a ten to twenty year span, easy. Ask someone who is sixty or over the same question and the span starts shortening up again. If I had married my first serious, long term adult relationship (I was 18, he was 35) I would now be 53 with a 70 year old husband. Something to think about.

Decide if you agree on capital punishment for your children, and if so, precisely what situations, and stick to it! For someone who believes in verbal solutions to child discipline coming home to a spouse beating a five year old with a belt hard enough to leave marks starts permanent, irreversible damage in a relationship.

Support your mate! Stand beside your man. If you can't, if his ideas are against your beliefs, it is time to make new decisions.

Can you talk? Really talk, openly and easily? If you need to tell your mate you forgot to pay the electricity bill, do you spend hours dreading the conversation, devising an opening statement to prevent a blow up? If you have difficulty with communication before marriage, it is guaranteed not to improve with age without serious counselling.

Do you find abuse unacceptable? Any abuse? Does your mate think, "Screw you!" is not abusive, and you find it highly offensive? It was years before I discovered our recent fight was an eight (on a scale of one to ten) for me, and he regarded it as a three. I shook my head, wondering what his idea of a ten would be!! How many other areas of behaviour do you differ on?

The age old story about a bird wanting to marry a fish are really true. This goes along with life style and unfortunately, basic  levels of 'class', a term I despise. The highly educated daughter of a very rich, stuffy family marrying a poor grease monkey might work in the movies, perhaps only if he was extensively educated in both knowledge and manners. If you own a thousand books and would rather drown than part with them, your mate should either appreciate them, or at least understand your need for them, instead of threatening to burn them every time you move.

If you are a gardener or a nature freak, don't marry someone who has to have a constant mass supply of cement in order to stay sane. I actually dated someone who went through withdrawals when we went up to my father's ranch for a weekend. That was the end of that. Hope springs eternal.

I need philosophy in my life. I don't need it every minute or every day, but I look fondly on my college years as a time of mental brilliance and balance. I miss those years a great deal. My mate doesn't need this stimulus. I can get him involved in a discussion every so often, and I always learn something new and interesting about him. Other times, I just go pick on my philosophical friends.

Fast and quick:

Oak trees should not marry gypsies.

Do you both want children? Honestly.

Hate his friends? Rut roh.

Don't get along with his family? Rut roh.

Problems before the wedding? It does NOT get better after, "I do."

Thinking, "This will change?" or "I can change them?" Rut roh.

Return to Inside Anne
Return to Packrat Main Page