The secret to marriage that lasts a lifetime
Start your marriage off right.
No matter who you are, when you get married, you enter the union wanting your relationship to last forever. You want to know that the love, trust, hope, and energy you put in will be good enough to establish a bond that lasts for the rest of your lives.
Realistically, though, hoping things will simply turn out to be a certain way doesn’t typically work. For a marriage to withstand the inevitable challenges it will face, both partners must commit to working together as a team.
Using what we know about attachment theory can make doing so more natural and intuitive — and it starts with looking at how to write wedding vows.
As a couple’s therapist, I’ve gained an understanding of what basically does marriages in at the end. I can predict which challenges and issues will take a relationship down.
For the sake of prevention, it’s essential for couples to create a secure functioning relationship from the very beginning rather than waiting until it’s a few years down the road and they’re scurrying frantically to fix their relationship.
One of the best ways I’ve found for men and women to do this is by framing the meaning and purpose of their marriage within their vows.
When people think of traditional wedding vows, what first comes to mind is the repeated response of “I do.” But the very nature of this statement — of thinking in terms of “I do” — reflects two individuals each focused on a one-person system.
When you shift the mindset of your marriage vows from “I do” to “we do”, you are now focusing on the formation of a society.
When you stop to consider what a marriage is, it’s the smallest unit of a society — the union between two separate individuals, two autonomous free-thinking different brains, forging a life together.
Marriages that survive are those that have a clear purpose — there’s something we, as a couple, serve.
There’s a reason for being together, and it’s beyond physical attraction, romantic love and similar interests. Those things are important, but for a union to be secure-functioning, it had to be built around something more substantial. There must be some reason for being together that is meaningful for you both in the long run.
The way to establish this sense of purpose is by sitting down together to consciously acknowledge your core, driving principles — a code by which you can live by, and which serve you both individually and as a couple.
Think in terms of grounding values, such as mutuality, collaboration, cooperation, fairness, justice and mutual sensitivity.
And they should be framed as a declaration of “we-ism.”
A “we-ism” is a clear statement of what “we” as a couple believe in, agree upon and do, such as the following examples:
We put our relationship first.
We tell each other everything.
We have each other’s backs in private and in public.
We protect each other.
We are the first to know things about and from one another.
These mutually beneficial, we-focused principles are what vows really should be, and currently are not.
Whether you are currently writing your own wedding vows or you’ve been married for some time and want to re-establish your connection, ask yourself these questions:
What are we?
What culture do we represent?
What do we stand for?
What are our principles that we live by?
What is it we do as a couple, and what is it that we do not do, no matter what?
Doing this as a team actually makes life easier.
It’s how civilizations form. Otherwise we’d all be killing each other, right? We’d be doing whatever we want. That’s human nature.
So, how can two people live a long, happily married life together in harmony?
By making agreements. By pointing in the same direction — having a vision, having a reason for being, a purpose.
We all need other people. We don’t do anything well by ourselves.
It’s time to realize that and make dependency and interdependency good words again.
Making sure your marriage starts with togetherness and is built to be securely functioning is one of the greatest gifts you can give each other.
You will minimize each other’s stress and optimize each other’s health, knowing you can rely on the relationship you’ve forged with the person you love.
Together, you will be an impressive force.