Happily ever after?!

There’s a reason why fairy tales end with “And they lived happily ever after”. Ever wonder why? I doubt Prince Charming can remain charming after being married.

Every married couple will go through a very rough patch in their marriage at some point in time. Then the word divorce will be mentioned more than once, and one will be left wondering if this was it, the end of one’s marriage. Those years will definitely be very stressful. Your patience with each other will be worn too thin and you are no longer connected on a level that married people should. And your heart breaks  to live in a marriage where you no longer felt loved, although that may not be the reality.

We are not excluded.We have had our fair share of ups and downs, fights happened and stupid things have been said. There have been times where we both questioned,”do we want this relationship.” Alhamdulillah, we persevered. We somehow made it through. We hope to think that we are happier than ever. Or so we like to think and believe.

However, we learned some very hard lessons. Our top 10 lessons are:

1. Pray together.

A couple that prays together, stays together. Who has not heard of that phrase? So do couples that pray together regularly have happier marriages? According to a study, the Journal of Marriage and Family found “that people in same-faith relationships and partners who attended services regularly were more satisfied with their relationship.”  In another study by University of Texas, sociologists Christopher Ellison and Xiaohe Xu also found that sanctification of marriage — the belief of partners that God is at the center of their unions — was associated with kinder, gentler relationships. 

Prayers also mean that both of you share similar core values and this is important because both of you more or less have the same expectations of life. For us, it means that we both aim to be good Muslims. 

Prayers are also most helpful especially when we are tested with trials. If it wasn’t for prayer, we wouldn’t have an outlet to express to God what we need help with.

In a day and age when life is busy, make the time to pray with your spouse.

2. Don’t give up. 

To be committed is to take the good with the bad. No marriage is perfect and every spouse is going to make mistakes. As much as we loved each other very much, a marriage cannot survive on love alone, it takes practice, work, and most of all patience. Every marriage has issues/problems. Aim to fix them, not ignore them. Clarify with each other to have a clear idea of what may be causing issues in your relationship and then do your best to think of solutions. Don’t try to bring up the past.

3. Communicate.

It is the time to talk. Be calm and objective about it. Address what you have been feeling, but also acknowledge what your partner has been feeling or may have to say. Allow each other the chance to speak. Once you’ve had your first serious sit down, it’ll be a lot easier to talk in the future. And remember to stay honest. No point trying to sugar coat your words either.Certainly NOT communicating these things, or letting them build up over time is a no-brainer for sorrow, distance and a cooling off to any marriage. Healthy communication habits means making an effort and taking the time to listen to your partner and try to understand the situation from your partner’s point of view. Remember to look at your non-verbal communication especially, as it is often what you don’t say that communicates the most.

Communication will result in trust. Without open and frequent communication, you can’t have trust. You must have trust in a relationship for it to work. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. We both agreed to let each other know first if one day one of us stop loving each other. It’s easier that way.

4. Affection.

The power of touch is a truly amazing thing. Don’t underestimate it. Sometimes all someone needs to be happy is a great big bear hug.Putting in extra effort to incorporate physical affection into your daily activity can help you to stay more connected as a couple. In marriage, each partner is to be an encourager rather than a critic, a forgiver rather than a collector of hurts, an enabler rather than a reformer. — H. Norman Wright and Gary J. Oliver

5. Timeouts & learn to let go.

There’s a saying, never to go to sleep mad. I admire people who can do just that. We just can’t. Our way, or the hubby prefers to take time to cool off. He doesn’t like it when I try and settle things at the time we are arguing. Usually, this will most likely do more harm than good. So now, we just take a timeout, think about the problem, and–when we are both ready–have a calm and objective discussion. Don’t try to win fights and arguments. One of the easiest ways to have a happy marriage or relationship is to learn to let go. No relationship is excused from arguments but couples in a happy relationship know where to draw the line and when to let go.

6. Celebrate moments.

Every single thing that is worth celebrating deserves a celebration. The bottom line is to make time for each other and acknowledge each other’s successes, no matter how small. It is a signal that your spouse is treasured in your list of priorities in life. The busier your schedule is, the more important it is to take time out for one another. Sort of spending quality time together but we or more like myself (the wifey), would prefer to call it celebrate moments, an opportunity to make good memories. 

7. Don’t keep score (record of wrongs) unless it’s a record of rights.

Write down all the times your spouse does something right, does something for you or does something you appreciate. You may have to really think hard or write something minor down at first, but this will become easier. If you keep doing this, you’ll begin to notice a lot things that he does right. Always do this when you think you married the wrong person or should have married someone else.

8. Be each other best friend/buddy.

Friendship is more important that lust or physical attraction, because that friendship is what keeps the marriage together. Heart-thumping passion will change throughout your relationship, but friendships most often deepen over the years. Lust fades, so you’d better be with someone who can stand you. We became each other best buddy by chance through the years. It’s interesting to note that even on our travels, the people we met commented that they thought we’re both good friends/siblings on vacation. Marriage, ultimately as said by someone, is the practice of becoming passionate friends. And by being each other’s best friend/buddy, comes mutual respect and affirmation. Sometimes, we treat our friends better than our spouse. So why not remind ourselves that our spouse deserves more. After all, we share the same bed each night.   

9. Humor

Laughter is one of the daily food groups for a healthy marriage. Laugh with one another not at one other. Do not demean or insult in the name of “good nature teasing” after a while it ceases to be funny. No fat jokes. Talk about funny things that have happened to you as a couple.  As for us, we watch funny youtube videos together and make stupid videos. Usually, we like to poke fun at ourselves first. At times, we just need a reminder to take everything — including ourselves — less seriously.

10.  Supportive network

Surround yourself with other healthy relationships. It is good for both spouses to continue having their friends and maintain contact with them. After a while, it is very common that as soon as the relationship excitement fades a little, there is a void created that can cause people to get insecure. Don’t let this happen to you. Maintain your outside interests along with your outside friendships. So for the wifey, she has a group of girlfriends and her sisters to spend time with. The husband has his soccer and NS friends to chill out with. This is also part of loving yourself means being true to yourself in all senses of the word: being comfortable with who you are and surrounding yourself with people who accept you as you are.

It’s a tough world to live in today. We are surrounded by poor examples of marriage. Divorce rates are on the high. We are not saying we are happy marriage experts. Marriage is a journey. Our journey has not been easy. Try living as a childless couple not by choice for 7 years. What’s there to glue us together? It hurts us every time we hear of couples with kids breaking up. Oh well, Allah has his reasons for us. We’re just sharing what has worked for us till now. Hopefully, some couples can benefit from it.  Find what works best for you as a couple and do remember,

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It is normal to go through trials. It’s only after the trials when the joy comes. Cry first, rejoice later. Delayed gratification – the ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success, never sound sweeter.Falling in love is easy but staying in love is much harder. Marriage is a choice. Once you decided to stay in a marriage, choose to be the best spouse and think the best of your spouse.

Marriage is about two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. You’ll never marry the right person. Hence, try to be one. If not you will be belting out the lyrics to  Bruno Mars’ recent song –  “When I was your man” with much regret.

It all just sounds like oooooh…
Mmm, too young, too dumb to realize
That I should have bought you flowers
And held your hand
Should have gave you all my hours
When I had the chance
Take you to every party
Cause all you wanted to do was dance
Now my baby’s dancing
But she’s dancing with another man

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