A Look at REAL Marriage

A REAL marriage is lived by real people in the real world with real jobs, real joys, and real problems. People in these situations need real information and real skills to make a REAL marriage. A REAL marriage does not buy into any of the Hollywood stereotypes. After all, have you seen how long those Hollywood marriages last?

REAL is an acronym. For us at REAL Marriage we concentrate on Romantic, Encouraging, Adaptable, Loving. A REAL marriage is many other things as well yet I believe that if a marriage is at least these four things than it can be satisfying and enjoyable. The fun part is discovering and determining what these letters mean to you.

Often we hear that once a couple marries the romance dies. This is true in some marriages. It does not have to be true in any marriage. There are a few things to remember about romance and the first is that being romantic is a state of mind. Romance looks different for different people. Romance may be dinner with candles, it may be flowers, it may be sitting together on the couch, it may be doing a project together, going hiking, camping, or even giving your spouse a favorite candy bar or the last cookie. The point is each person decides what is romantic for him/her.

The second thing to remember is that romance changes over time. Some things are classically romantic and we all have favorites that are romantic for us through time. Other things become romantic for us or return to romantic status. For me, doing projects with my wife has become romantic to me now though earlier in our marriage I saw it only as helpful.

Everyone needs encouragement and most of us expect that our marriages will encourage us. One of the best ways for your marriage to encourage you is for you to encourage your spouse. Encouraging is a manner of speaking. Show your respect, love, and admiration by what you say and what you do. A phone call or e-mail to say, "Hang in there," when your loved one is working on a tough project or having a tough time goes a long way. I also have to recommend sending them a note. (Yes, this is a shameless plug for REAL Love Notes and an undisguised attempt at getting you to send love notes to your loved one. You can make them yourself. If you need some help you can order my book, Make a Note to Love Your Spouse from Amazon by clicking here. It is available in paperback and in ebook format on Kindle and Nook.)

Being adaptable is a way of working together. Marriage is great! For marriages to be great and remain great they need an infrastructure. Funding all of that fun takes money so usually at least one member of the couple needs a job. That apartment or house you enjoy needs cleaning and upkeep as do the clothes you wear. Who does what is not important as long as the two of you can agree on it. At different times in your marriage you may have to switch who is responsible for certain jobs. Since I have started this business I have become primarily responsible for laundry and weekday cooking. It just makes sense since I do much of my work out of the home. Insert your list here and you know what I mean.

We adapt to things all the time even if we are not thinking about it. We adapt to our bodies as they change because of age, we adapt to our families as they grow because of birth and marriage, and we adapt to our families as they shrink through divorce and death. We can apply those same skills to adapting in our marriages and with our spouses. It is well worth it.

To support the greatness of marriage we need to work together. Sometimes I load the dishwasher and sometimes my wife loads it but we don't both load it at the same time. We have different styles and methods for that chore that don't mix. We can work together at it though if one of us rinses and scrapes and then lets the other one do all of the loading. I fold towels differently now than when I was single. Neither of us worries about which way the toilet paper is on the roll as long as there is toilet paper on the roll. This is being adaptable. It works and it can be great fun or a fun story or just practical advice.

Being loving is to develop a habit of doing for each other. One definition of love that I often use is, "Love is doing what is best for the other person." Sometimes that is fun, enjoyable, and satisfying and sometimes it is inconvenient or difficult. My wife has developed the habit of leaving me small gifts she knows I will enjoy. She leaves me a favorite candy bar, new Pez dispenser, or a cool tin of mints. We have both developed the habit of leaving each other REAL love notes. Sometimes being loving is not enjoyable. I don't get any real enjoyment out of taking my wife's car to be worked on and sitting for hours waiting for it to be finished. However, I do get satisfaction out of knowing that her car is working properly and likely won't break down on her at an inopportune time. The thank you hugs and kisses are very satisfying as well.

Now you have an idea of what I consider to be a REAL marriage. This is not the exhaustive list, of course, yet it sets the direction. I am convinced by research, anecdotal evidence, and personal experience that everyone who practices these things in their marriage is better off than if they do not practice them. Doing is the key. These are daily things to be done. This information probably does not surprise you all that much. "I know these things are good to do," you say. Are you doing them? I teach these things and yet there are times that I let "life" intrude and I slack off. Maybe I don't encourage very much or I let chores slide. Many people I talk to have the same experience. So take a look at how you are doing. If you are doing all of these things pat yourself on the back and celebrate with your spouse. If you are not doing them, don't beat yourself up, simply begin doing them again and then go celebrate with your spouse.

Work on and enjoy your REAL marriage daily.

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