Many people assume that once the ceremony is finished, and their relationship is recognized by the state, they can relax into a life of loving security. The reality is that a successful partnership demands constant attention and effort. People grow and change. For example, you may have been attracted first by your lover’s vulnerability. Over time, however, they may become stronger and more independent.
The first reality of married life, or of any long-term committed relationship, is the lack of space and privacy. Someone who has spent a long time living alone may find it very difficult to adjust. The lack of privacy can be exacerbated by jealousy. An insecure individual in constant fear of infidelity or loss of interest by their partner will often expect to be told where their partner has been, will grow suspicious if they are late and may even mistake a simple headache or bad mood for a loss of love and affection.
Giving your partner space, however, can be mistaken for coldness or detachment on your part. You must be careful not to go too far. Many marriages fail because couples drift apart, with one partner focussing too exclusively on their career or children or even hobby. Each individual in a partnership must create time and space to do something with their partner that their partner enjoys. A man is not making time for his wife by hiring a babysitter then settling down to a day’s fishing while his wife sits in the car with a book!
The key to any relationship, whether that be marriage or friendship, is acceptance. Everyone has their faults. You must learn to accept, or at least tolerate, these faults and not see your partner as someone who needs to be transformed to suit you. Acceptance needs to be grounded in realism. There has never been a perfect relationship or marriage. Everyone has their faults and every marriage has its bad days. Of course, taken to an extreme this can itself become a problem. Sometimes we need to tell a loved one if something they do is becoming unbearable. If such feelings are not occasionally expressed they will fester and turn to resentment.
A marriage or civil partnership should be taken seriously or not entered into at all. You are making a commitment to love and support your partner and to remain loyal. It is important to be sure before you commit. You must ask yourself whether your partner satisfies you sexually. In any relationship there will be sexual temptations and you must be sure you can resist.
Communication is vital. Partners must not take one another for granted and simply assume that everything is fine. Make the effort to stay close. Ask your partner how they are, what sort of day they have had, how their parents were, how their boss is behaving and so on. Failure to communicate can lead to couples drifting apart as they start to live separate lives. A failure to communicate also suggests a lack of respect. What seem like trivial gestures can mean a great deal: a compliment, a thank you, a squeeze of the hand, all demonstrate respect as well as love.
Any human relationship can be difficult. Sometimes people are simply not suited, or one partner really isn’t cut out for long-term commitment. But in general your chances of a successful relationship are greatly improved by learning to accept your partner’s faults, making time for one another, being serious about your commitment to them and making the effort to communicate.