Imagine you are fourteen years old, in school and starting a new class called Marriage. In this class you learn fifty tips, and once you've learned them, for the remainder of time that you are in school, all you do in that weekly class is role-play the tips with your fellow students. That's it -- there is no more new material to learn, because those fifty tips are all you need to know in order to make your relationship work. You spend the rest of your time in Marriage class studying the same tips and integrating them into your life to prepare you to make your future marriage work.
This book contains fifty definitive tips to help make your marriage last forever. I believe if we all learned each of these tips and put them to practice, there would be far more happy marriages.
As you read, you may notice that you've already mastered some of these tips, and you can check those off, but there will be others that you may not have thought of and that are completely new to you. If you invest in your relationship and master all fifty tips, the reward for a marriage that works will be higher than you ever thought possible and has the potential to bring you more joy than anything else in your life.
With a good marriage you need to always think, how will my actions now affect my relationship in an hour, in a day, in a month, in a year, in a lifetime? My general rule of thumb is that if what you do or say to your partner will affect your relationship in a positive way, then do it. If not, or if you're not sure, then think again about whether it is worth the temporary satisfaction.
To make your marriage work, you will need good listening skills, because half of what makes a happy marriage is being able to listen and respond to your partner. You will also want to be able to give to each other at every available opportunity, to come to agreements effortlessly and let each other flourish and be the best you each can be.
My husband, Oli, often tells a story about something that happened many years ago, when he was at friends' parents Liz and Hugh's thirtieth wedding anniversary. Oli was sitting next to Liz and watching Hugh's best friend, Steve, who was in his late fifties, dancing, kissing and flirting with a young blond bomb shell that he brought with him to the party. Just six months earlier, Oli had seen Steve with another beauty, doing pretty much the same thing at another party.
Oli, who was in his early twenties at the time, said to Liz, "Wow, Steve is the coolest guy and such a stud. Whenever I see him, he's always with another really sexy, gorgeous woman."
Liz looked incredulously at Oli and said, "Oli, it's really easy to pick up another pretty girl, spend a few nights or weeks with her and keep her happy and satisfied for a short period of time.
You want to know who really is the coolest guy in the room?" Liz pointed at her husband. "It's Hugh. Hugh has kept me happy sexually and emotionally for thirty years. A man who can keep a woman happy for that long is a real stud."
My goal with this book is to help you have a great marriage, too. So take your time, read the tips and, more important, practice them. They really do work. Take one at a time if need be, and work with that one for a week or a month and let it integrate seamlessly into your life and then move on to integrating the next. Invest time and attention into your marriage and you'll find that the rewards for doing so are really high. Your relationship will flourish and you and your partner will bring each other happiness for years to come.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes.
QUIZ: HOW HAPPY IS YOUR MARRIAGE?
1. What best describes your relationship?
A. Challenging, frustrating and slightly volatile. We often miscommunicate.
B. Loving, communicative and happy. We are both growing together.
C. Boring, withdrawn and somewhat disconnected. We are both a bit lonely.
2. How do you both handle a disagreement or argument?
A. We listen calmly, acknowledge if our partner has a point and respond in a matter of fact way.
B. One or both of us bottle up our feelings and give the other the silent treatment.
C. One or both of us are loud, volatile and talk over the other all the time.
3. Do you feel heard and completely understood by your partner?
A. On some things, yes, and others, no.
B. I don't feel that I'm understood at all, and I have a hard time expressing myself to my partner.
C. Yes, completely.
4. How much does your partner really know about you?
A. I am keeping a lot of secrets and generally have a hard time sharing everything with my partner.
B. I am really open and my partner knows everything about me.
C. I have a few secrets that I am keeping from my partner.
5. Do you find it easy to talk about sex with your partner?
A. We are fully open and find it easy to discuss.
B. We don't discuss it; it is a bit of a taboo subject.
C. One of us is open and the other more closed.
6. Are you happy with the amount of sex that you are having with your partner?
A. No, I often want more.
B. My partner wants more than me.
C. We are totally happy with our sex life and have the amount that is good for both of us.
7. Are you happy with the creativity and variation in your sex life?
A. There are things that one of us wants to do but that the other doesn't.
B. Sometimes it gets a bit boring and we could spice it up.
C. We are totally happy, open and compatible and have great sex.