How do you know you've found the right one? If you believe the movies and romance novels, you'll fight a bit, maybe even hate each other. A "light-bulb" will go off, and one of you will see the other's ways. You'll hug, kiss and become a couple. Is real-life really like this? Sometimes, but not normally. Yet, we love this formula of "love" as is clear by how many romance novels and movies we're willing to buy for our reading and watching pleasure.
A young woman asked my husband and me this very question as we flew from Washington, D.C. to Seattle to our honeymoon cruise. A good relationship needs these three important components: passion, intimacy and commitment. And, for these, having "two out of three" is bad.
1. We are in love
Love is not just the passion hormones create, but the passion that stays together forever through the faults, the good times and bad. Many look past these faults during courtship and then complain about them after marriage. Decide how important these are and discuss them with your partner before committing to a relationship.
We know marriage isn't perfect. There are times we need to compromise, reconsider a point of view or agree to disagree. Since 40 to 50 percent of first-time marriages end in divorce, partners also need to decide, as my aunt told me, “If I really was going to leave.”
She said, every time she and my uncle argued, she'd tell him she was going to leave him. One day he called her on the threat. Oops! She didn't want to leave, she wanted him to give in and take her side. This time, he wasn't going to and gave her permission to leave.
How bad do you really want to leave the relationship? Is your way worth losing the one you love? If you compromise or change your point of view, will it really mess up your marriage? How committed are you to your union?
Marriage is work. Commitment is hugs, holding hands and kissing through arguments and solving them through compromise, understanding your partner's points and agreeing or agreeing to disagree. I saw this with my parents, and I've seen it in ours. I've read it in a lot of marital advice. My parents and we will tell you it's worth the work and making up is fun.
2. Intimacy is important
Intimacy is trust. It's sharing your deepest thoughts and desires. It’s knowing your partner is by your side, no matter what. It's looking past the hurt others left behind and not holding your present partner responsible for someone else's caused pain. A relationship won't work if you don't trust each other.
I trust my husband. We talk, communicate, do things together and apart. But, like the song says, “save the last dance for me,” in the end, we're together.
We talk about and give each other a chronological breakdown of our day. But, when we communicate, we are willing to tell about the bad, congratulate accomplishments and remind each other how important they are. We do a lot of the recommendations found in “6 essential ingredients for a long happy marriage.” Hold hands, kiss, hug and say "I Love You." These are intimate ways to communicate your committed love.
3. We agreed to forever
We have a marriage certificate from my mom's Pastor; he married me to my husband. And a marriage certificate from his mom's Pastor; he married my husband to me. Twelve years later, we renewed our vows for time and eternity and received a third certificate.
Commitment is not only found in the certificate; paper can tear. It is in the heart, mind and will of each partner. You are an individual, but part of a union that takes two. Resolve issues, not by giving in, but by knowing there will be differences and communicating through them.
Commit to each other from the beginning and stay committed, even through the hard times. Arguments will happen. That's part of being individuals. But, because of our commitment, my husband and I work through these. Forever has, and is still, been our goal. I can't imagine him not at my side. The three certificates prove he belongs there.