What Did I Learn In 19 Years Of Marriage?

What did I learn in 19 years of marriage? Well, I’ll tell you.

1. Eat crow every so often as needed. You are never going to always be right. Every once in awhile you’ll mess up. Learn to tolerate apologizing and make sure it’s sincere. But remember, apologies are worthless if they’re too frequent, and even more so if they’re phony.

2. Don’t expect not to get hurt in love. If you’re in a marriage to avoid getting hurt, it won’t work. You can’t be married to someone and not get bruised on occasion by his/her difference of opinion or disagreement. You should be thinking more about how to survive the hurt when it happens, communicate about it, and repair the damage that’s done. Get good at repairs, not how to get away from the possibility of getting your feelings hurt in love.

3. Make time to go on dates just you and your spouse no matter how long you’ve been married. One way to take care of your love for each other is to keep up your desire and attraction for each other. Going out on dates is one way to do that. A date is something the two of you get dressed up for and have fun doing together.

4. Don’t let either family of origin screw up your marriage. If you have family members, in your family or your spouse’s family that are envious, resentful, jealous, competitive, or downright hostile for their own reasons, don’t let these feelings infect your marriage. Some people won’t like what you have and won’t feel good for you that you have it, no matter what you do. If you need their approval or love you’re in trouble. That’s precisely what gives them the power to negatively influence your marriage.

5. Argue with your spouse sitting down, never standing up. Sitting down is associated in most cultures with conversation, or literally, exchanging spoken language in a civilized manner. No matter if you like what you’re hearing or not, the idea is to converse, to have a civilized communication with someone you love about something that matters to the both of you. If you stand up you can be mobile, aggressive, or avoiding. None of these moving defensive states of mind and body are going to help the two of you talk to each other, especially if the topics are potentially hurtful. Stay seated.

6. Make room for two unique individuals in your marriage at all times. His and her rooms, if you have to.

7. For every thing you have that’s separate have something that’s joined. Joined marital items symbolize ‘trust.’ Trust is fundamental to love and marriage. Trust is the risk that love is founded upon. Without trust you can just as well ask yourself why am I married to this person? Without trust, you’re roommates, nothing more. A good test of marital trust is the good old fashion ‘mutual account.’

8. Promise to tell your spouse if you’ve fallen out of love, long before you decide to have an affair. This simple promise keeps the two of you honorable.

9. Practice talking and listening in equal measure. Communication is talking and listening. Seems obvious, right?  For most people, practicing doing the one you’re least likely to enjoy is a necessary chore. For those of you who prefer to listen and keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, speak up for the sake of yourself and your marriage. For those of you who love to talk, silence yourself and listen as an act of love. For me, listening was the challenge. I do it all the time in my practice. I discovered it was harder to do in my marriage.

10. Remember, if you help your spouse grow stronger, you get more love. If building your spouse up as an act of selfless loving is not reward enough on its own, consider the possibility that you’ll get more love in the long run.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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