The Insider’s Solution to a Successful Marriage

relationship acceptance

So, you two are different.

That wasn’t a question. That was a statement, and it’s probably the root of most of the problems in a relationship. You may have heard the official terminology: power struggle.

And it’s true. Your differences are going to cause stress.

Nan and I are organized differently. All you would have to do is check out our dishwasher after each one of us has loaded it. The way we handle clothes can be different, the process of cooking and cleaning up after a meal is different and our level of comfort with clutter is different. Nan and I have different needs for sociability, different bedtimes and we have temperature wars in our environments. I could go on. And we have been pretty happily married for almost 47 years. So what gives?

We have learned a level of acceptance for each other that allows us to live together peacefully.

How we have done this is by trying our best to negotiate the differences and treat each other with “kind friendliness”. We really try to focus on where we agree, rather than disagree. It’s not always easy and I can’t say I have always been able to do this with grace, but I obviously haven’t failed entirely. After all, we are still together and still friends.

One conversation I have heard Nan have with women on more than one occasion is this:

“So you wanted to marry an easy-going stable guy, right?”

“Yes, but he’s not very ambitious, and quite frankly kind of boring.”

Then Nan will point out that stability is kind of boring, and easy-going isn’t “Type A”. You can’t have both. And to flip it around, a guy may choose a flashy, stylish kind of woman and then complain that she shops too often and spends too much. Yeah, that’s how she caught your attention and hopes to keep it in the future. You can’t have it both ways, either.

As I am writing this post we are sitting in our cabin that is not as remote as I would have liked, on a piece of land smaller than I would have chosen. Nan is relaxing on a deck that overlooks a river rather than an ocean, wearing more cold weather clothes than she would prefer. When we bought a sailboat many years ago it was bigger than I would have liked, but smaller than the condo Nan would have picked.

So I’m sure you get the point. You didn’t (or won’t) marry yourself and so you don’t get to have everything exactly the way you want it. You will both have to accept that you are not the center around which the world revolves. But you can still have it good. Really good.

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