July 23, 2007

THE KEY TO MARRIAGE

Last night I asked my husband what the "key to marriage" was. He guessed people's first two responses but didn't guess that dishwashing was so important. We tried to put into words what we'd answer if someone asked us this question. The most concise wording I could come up with was "Treating your spouse better than you yourself would like to be treated." My husband summarized that as Respect, which is a pretty good answer.

We talked about the #1 answer too and why "fidelity" ranks so high. My husband joked that looking for Fidelity in a mate is like looking for Not Being a Child Molester in a babysitter: it should just be a given. Fidelity isn't the key to a good marriage; if you have a good marriage, you don't even have to think about fidelity. Never once in the entire seven years have I ever thought about my husband cheating on me.

This tied in nicely with this week's Army Wives, where the episode was cheating cheating cheating. One spouse did and one spouse resisted. Last week a SpouseBUZZ commenter said that in her circle of military couples, 9 out of 10 of them have had infidelity issues. I say she needs to find some new friends! My husband and I struggled to come up with instances of cheating we heard of at all during his deployment, from anyone we could think of on post. We barely came up with five, and one of them was from a gross "swinger" couple, so that hardly even counts. I know it happens, but 9 out of 10? Ouch.

So what would you say is really the "key to marriage"? And would fidelity poll that high for you?

Posted by: Sarah at 06:12 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 #1 for us (26 years and counting): Putting the wants and needs of the other before your own. It's key, but if it's not mutual then you're setting yourself up to be a doormat. #2-#8: Communication. #9: Understanding that sometimes during an argument things get said to hurt, not because they're true. Once understood, try not to do it. #10: Never go to bed mad at each other. As for fidelity, it's not high on *my* list, but my wife and I have an agreement: I'll try my best to remain faithful, and if I'm not she'll try her best to castrate me with a rusty butter knife. Like I said, 26 years so far, and I'm not singing soprano!

Posted by: Ted at July 23, 2007 06:31 AM (blNMI)

2 You know, I was thinking the exact same thing when I read your last post about marriage, and saw that "fidelity" even made the lists of "things that will probably make your marriage better". Um, DUH. I wonder if those surveys were multiple choice, or open-ended so people could give the answers they really believed. If they were multiple choice, there's no wonder people picked what they did and that the stats were so high for certain ones (especially the dishes -- I'd rather my husband cleaned the catbox!). I wouldn't hinge my marriage on any of the survey answers in that one article. Fidelity is a given -- I made a vow, after all. Honestly, I'd have to echo Ted's sentiments above, but I'd probably add one thing: Divorce is NEVER an option. It is not joked about, it is never brought up. We do not view that as a viable option to our differences -- ever. Period. I wish more people could take their marriages as seriously. It's good to see that there are others who do! (Hm, your URL option in the comment center doesn't care for my LiveJournal URL. I'll have to leave it blank for now.)

Posted by: deltasierra at July 23, 2007 07:07 AM (l0MIM)

3 I'm not married, so my opinions come with a "FWIW" tag. I agree with Sarah that if the marriage is good, fidelity is an afterthought. But I think the reason people put fidelity as key is because if hard times in the marriage lead to infidelity it's probably way more likely to crumble. Therefore "fidelity when you might not feel like it" is probably closer to what's on people's minds when they list fidelity as key. As for Ted's #9, it's been my experience in fights of all kinds that the most hurtful things possible, the ones that *are* said deliberately to wound, are also usually true. "Truth hurts" goes double in a relationship as tight as a marriage, I think. So I'd amend Ted's #9 to say that if you must speak a harsh truth for the sake of improving the relationship, speak it as kindly as you can and in a situation such that the other person clearly understands your motive is not merely to wound but to ask for something you may well need to be more content in the relationship.

Posted by: Anwyn at July 23, 2007 07:47 AM (aytNf)

4 While fidelity is important, it is not an issue in our marriage. I suppose it has just been a given for us both that we didn't have to worry about that issue. From the time we met we agreed that we would never get into a situation we shouldn't be in if we always remembered one thing: If I would not do or say this in front of my spouse, then it is the wrong choice to make. In our house communication is top priority. When it goes, everything else goes to hell, it is a horrible cycle to get into. So, we make sure that we share our feelings with each other, about everything. We are also selective about the couples we befriend. It may sound horrible to be so selective, but we can't deal with drama or fidelity issues and so we stay away from couples that seem to always have such things going on. Those are just not things that we need in our lives and such drama only brings negative things for all exposed to it. If it is a negative situation that we don't have to be involved in, we steer clear as best we can!!

Posted by: LMT at July 23, 2007 10:14 AM (ASoq0)

5 1)Verbal kindness. Avoid saying deliberately hurtful things. Doesn't mean you can't get mad, but keep it within bounds. When a person raised in a family where people speak decently to each other marries a person from a family where verbal aggression is a matter of course, then he/she probably isn't going to be able to defend himself very well, and the resultant hurt will come out in other ways. 2)Avoiding public putdowns. It's pretty common to see people speak to their spouses with barely concealed contempt. These days, women seem to do this more than men. 3)Respect for each other's dreams. This includes not grabbing all the money to spend on oneself, and also not assuming that your spouse's career decisions should be made entirely based on one's financial demands.

Posted by: anon anon at July 24, 2007 08:03 AM (SpkYG)

6 I didn't bother to dig into the survey, but I'd say that the only people who would be qualified to answer that question are people who have been married over 20 years and still consider themselves to be happy. But it's always funny when they try to quantify something like marriage because everyone is different. What my husband and I can tolerate in each other is far different than what other couples can tolerate. If dishes are an issue... my husband and I would've been divorced 28 years ago. Dishes are a chore. If you are worried about who does what chores in the house - you have far more problems than who does them as it's generally a mask for larger problems. As for fidelity - I'm with you and your husband - that should be such a standard it isn't even a consideration.

Posted by: Teresa at July 24, 2007 11:04 AM (gsbs5)

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