My friend sent me a beautiful email recently. The email was an essay that began with a question, “How do you know you married the right person?”. I think that all of us married people, no matter what state our marriage is in, have asked ourselves that question at some point in our married life.
Even I, although happily married and still enjoying the bliss of our honeymoon high, am guilty of having thought about it and even discussing it with my hubby. I mean honestly, how do you know you married the right person? How do you know you made the right choice?
The essay answers the question quite simply. Here's the explanation in my own words and with ny added insights.
Every relationship is a cycle. It starts with falling in love. The term “falling in love” implies a spontaneous and natural feeling. You don’t plan it, you can’t get ready for it, and there’s no anticipating it. Unexpectedly and often times uncontrollably, you simply get swept off your feet.
By that very notion, falling in love is quick, easy and almost magical. It can happen to anyone. And it’s the time when things are most exciting. You look forward to phone calls, getting little notes in your email, holding hands. Everything is nice and sweet and romantic. We all know that the most thrilling part of any romantic relationship is the beginning of one.
But as with all things – the romantic gestures, the phone calls, the notes in your mailbox, they become routine and ordinary. The "oohs" and "aahs" become “not agains” or “not nows”. The little things that you used to find endearing are now the very things that drive you mad. It’s easy to fall in love -- but staying in love is another matter altogether! Staying “in love” requires work and effort. It requires patience and understanding. And all that just takes the fun out of it!
This is the stage where most people find fulfillment outside their marriage. Not necessarily a third party – although it has happened – but maybe other diversions like work, and golf, and shopping … And the more you seek fulfillment elsewhere (and get it) the further you drift away from your spouse. Some couples separate, some stay together “for the kids”, some become numb and indifferent.
Many of us think that “if only I found the right person, things would have been different”. But here’s a shocker. There is no RIGHT person. The key to a successful marriage is NOT in finding the right person, but rather it is learning to love and working at keeping the love with the person you have found. (yes, that same person you married years ago!).
Why should that concept surprise us? Think about it - all our lives we are taught that good things come to those who work hard. That in order to be happy and succeed we need to prepare and exert the effort. Why should it be any different when it comes to making a marriage successful?
We should not delude ourselves into believing that there is everlasting love and we live happily ever after – love does not last on its own. It lasts when you work hard at making it last. And since all marriages are partnerships, the only way to know if you have found the right person is if you have found a partner who is willing to work just as hard as you are at making things last.
Bottomline? Love happens but staying in love is made to happen. :)