Good marriages don't just happen -- Part II

Marge Flados

The topic in Part I dealt with the importance of teaching children how to be good marriage partners and questioning why parents are not doing more of it. (Admittedly, most of my opinions come from a lifetime of experience and observation.) 

Many years ago we lived next door to a friendly couple who had been married for 15 years. They said they had been saving up for a divorce for 10 years, but every time there was enough money for a proper divorce, they bought a new car. Last I heard they were still driving really great cars.

During a local meeting of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) for whom I was a mentor each member was asked who came first in their lives, their husband or their children. To my surprise and disappointment all but two said, “my children”. It opened up the topic for the next meeting, that’s for sure!

No rule fits all, these words are meant for typical guys and girls if there is such a thing as typical. There will always be the outliers that achieve the same results doing things differently.

First let it be understood by both partners: Husbands and wives should expect to be # 1 on a spouse’ love list. It is easy to fall into the habit of lavishing excessive attention on those marvelous little beings that grew and developed as a result of the marriage. But kids are under the parental wing feathers for about 18 years after which time they joyfully leave their parents’ world to create one of their own (hopefully)) and one of the parents’ goals should be to prepare children for doing just that. I feel that women have a harder time with this than do men.

If one fails to make a spouse the number one target of their consideration, love and attention during the child-raising years, when the kids leave the nest it will be truly empty. Kids are in the home for about 18 years, a spouse for 50 or more. Go figure. After children leave to follow their own paths, husbands and wives need each other more than ever. These should be the golden years in a marriage. Better than B.C. (Before Children).

Couples can radiate love by the way they look at each other with that “you’re-the-dearest-person-I-know” look. It radiates like a beacon for all the world to see. Rest assured their state of being did not happen without effort on the part of both.

Men and women differ in so many ways. Attend a serious meeting with all women and then one with all men and the difference will jump out at you like a missile from a bazooka. Expectations in marriage partners differ, as well. Women marry in the hope of having security, comfort, safety, love, emotional support and feel marriage should entitle them to these conditions. Yes and no. Some come easy for men some, not so. Most men are not good at relating to feelings and emotional ups and downs in fact it bores their socks off and may disappoint in this area of the relationship.

So ladies stop expecting him to hang around to listen, waiting for you to stop feeling hurt, weepy, angry or relate to the emotional anxieties that abound in many females. Protect him from an over-abundance of feelings and emotion. It can damage the relationship.

The man in a marriage is a rather basic fellow. Most of all he requires a wife’s respect for him as head of the household. He needs your physical love and your appreciation for his willingness to provide for you and be your cushion again the hard knocks of this imperfect world. That is not to say the wife may not be as skilled in these areas but don’t remind him of it!

Men don’t have the genes for handling shopping trips either. Men shop like they shoot a deer. He needs a shirt: he goes to a store, heads for the shirt aisle, picks one out in his size and shoots it, I mean buys it. However, if there is a shirt on sale he will shoot that instead, whether it is his size or not, he assumes the price will make it fit. Please understand they can’t help it. Men who enjoy shopping are rare birds indeed, unless it is Walmart, Lowes or Bass Pro Shop at which places he can fondle the merchandise for hours.

Let it be understood, expectations must be realistic and can differ. So respect those differences. Equality in attitude cannot be legislated even though today efforts are being made in that direction. Stop worrying about equal; it shouldn’t be in the equation or a consideration. Both sexes have strengths that the other gender cannot master easily. And if they do, the comfort level is difficult to achieve.

Stay tuned for Part III at which time we will deal with how to make a good marriage happen once the vows are spoken. Lets call it the “nuts and bolts” segment.

Marge Flados resides in Harlingen and can be reached at nflados@gmail.com.