Marriage: how to maintain it

How to pass, fit in, eventually set an example, and ultimately lead the way.
mathiverse
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Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by mathiverse »

I recently got married. A few other people on the forum recently will/did too, so perhaps this is a good time to have this discussion.

I already made a major choice that will significantly influence the outcome of my marriage when I decided on the person who is now my spouse. However, I'd be interested to hear any advice on how to keep this thing going successfully into the future given that I've already chosen a particular person. I'm interested in principles and practices.

I plan on having children with my spouse, if that's relevant to your perspective.

All viewpoints are welcome. :)

PS: I've given this plenty of thought myself, however I'm seeking new perspectives and ideas.

jacob
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by jacob »

I'm sorry.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist. I also say "I'm sorry", when someone says they're pregnant. Oh wait ... nevermind. Carry on!)

Frankly, it's almost impossible to change course once it's set. Most people (99%+) are unlikely to change their personality over a lifetime. At best, they'll mellow out. Only in the rarest 1% cases will anyone fundamentally change.

This suggests that the best marriage outcomes are achieved by choosing well. Like, firing two cannonballs onto a ballistic trajectory, together. How will my partner be/come in the decades ahead. How will I be/come. What kinds of interactions will obtain? It's practically ballistic in nature. In other words, choose for lifelong compatibility. Not just "what are our priorities/values now" (great sex?) but also "what are our priorities/values when we're 70+?" (great sandwiches?).

Once initial trajectories are chosen well... I'd say that the best strategy for maintaining it is ... focus on "being able to argue well". Settling disagreements like "adults" will go far (see Transaction Analysis). This means being objective about the arguing. Third person perspective to see the "we", not "I" or "you". Not following scripted arguments.

The thing I appreciate/value about my marriage with DW is our ability to fairly quickly (<24 hours) figure out our disagreements w/o taking emotional offense. We're both Te in our auxiliary. This makes it possible to mutually explain to each other what we're doing and expecting even if we're not on the same page wrt why.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I am pretty sure that you do not want the EcoSexualPolyAmorousAnarchist perspective on this matter.

Scott 2
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Scott 2 »

Far as I can tell, there's two dominant schools of thought on the topic. Each has a foundational book:

John Gottman - The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work - Argue well
Sue Johnson - Hold Me Tight - Respect attachment styles

Bonus:

Gary Chapman - The 5 Love Languages - Express love with how the other person wants to receive it
Emily Nagoski - Come As You Are - Intimacy is psychological

Henry
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Henry »

There were many people you could have married. You happened to choose this one. And let's cut the romantic crap. You chose the wrong person. Or at best your spouse is like what Winston Churchill said about Democracy "It's is the worst form of government except for all the other ones." That's why you didn't get married when you said "Will you marry me." You got married when you said "I do." The person is only part of the equation and when you each find out that you married the wrong person you will have these promises to fall back on. And that's your comfort, that your spouse also chose the wrong person, so you are not the only person in the marriage who is completely fucked. The positive side is now you have what I believe is the most important component of a marriage - mutual empathy. And remember. The greatest expression of love is wanting to outlive the other person. The problem is we all have cancer and it's just a matter of finding out who get's it first and what specific part of the body it's going to eat away. That's why Charlie Munger said to live life backwards. Because if you have a successful and lasting marriage, at some point in the future, it's highly likely that one of you will hold the other's corpse in their arms and a loss deeper and vaster than the oceans will wash over one of you to the point that you can only hope you drown from it. That's why Jimmy Carter is the fucking man for being the one who had to go through it and I'd bet the ranch that he dies before the year's end. So congratulations and I hope you didn't get a bunch of stupid shit that you want to toss but have to hold onto and display when the people who gave them to you come visit you and you have to smile through clenched teeth that you always wanted a lamp where the bulb screws into a deer's asshole.
Last edited by Henry on Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

As Jacob noted, selection likely is key. There's an old saying along the line of - Don't marry a man until you see how he holds his liquor, spends his money, handles his horses, and loses his temper. These are factors that are unlikely to change very much. One very good point made in "Poverty, by America" is that women near the bottom of the socio-economic ladder have less ability to choose a husband based on qualities such as these. Impoverished single Moms didn't kick Dad out because he's a chubby nerd with fumbling play. They kicked him out because he's an abusive alchoholic with no means of employment. Not to imply that abusive alcoholics don't exist at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.

chenda
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by chenda »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:25 pm
Not to imply that abusive alcoholics don't exist at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.
But probably much less common.

I believe love marriages are quite a new idea. Previously it was much more of an economic alliance.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Chenda wrote: I believe love marriages are quite a new idea. Previously it was much more of an economic alliance.
The term for that is compassionate marriage, which describes the shift in early modern Europe toward marriage for love and companionship instead of for property or familial alliances.

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Seppia
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Seppia »

Been married 13 years, generally been so lucky that as the years go by, our relationship gets better.
In my case (and anecdotally what I observe in other successful marriages) the key was looking for a good fit on aspects that do not have an expiration date.

So underweight stuff like
Looks
Quality/quantity of sex

Overweight stuff like
Values
Similar attitude towards “stuff”
Agreement on roles

Etc

Then as with everything long term you need a healthy dose of good luck.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Agreement on roles and the very definition of marriage is key. Just like when you are forming a business partnership. I may be wrong, but I think sometimes Values should be complementary rather than exactly the same. For instance, might be better if you rate Order #1 and he rates Order #4 and he rates Kindness #1 and you rate Kindness #4. Maybe this mostly applies, because in addition to relating to each other, you also will form a boundary as a couple with the rest of the world, which will influence your ultimate failure or success. But it also may apply to how you can learn from each other. Oftentimes, how Values and/or Qualities may be complementary will be assigned to gender roles, but that isn't strictly necessary.

take2
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by take2 »

+1 to @Seppia

I’ve only been married 2+ years so perhaps not the best placed to answer, but compatibility in viewing it as a partnership and a focus on the “we” aspect is what works for us.

Marriage is a partnership above all else. Both people need to do 50% of what needs to be done, though not necessarily 50% at all times (e.g. one may need to do 70/30 or even 100/0 at any given point).

Open, constant and objective communication (echoing Jacob) is key. Agreeing on roles is also critical, and the ability for both parties to compromise is paramount. Ideally whatever compromises are made aren’t viewed as a sacrifice as that can lead to resentment over time.

I do sometimes wonder whether marriage can work at all for certain types of people, but that may be just that I couldn’t be compatible with someone who’s very narcissistic or self-involved. Perhaps for someone else that’s what they may need.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I agree that the successful creation of a "we" dyad may vary significantly with personality type, experience, and other factors. For instance, one of my pet peeves is when a guy starts "we"-ing me too soon.

suomalainen
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by suomalainen »

I mean, I could talk about what worked and what didn't work in my two(!) marriages, and what I've seen in my parent's marriage and in other relationships into which I have some window. And the reality is that there are just so many nuances to personalities and skills and needs and wants and levels of self-awareness and and levels of other-awareness and all the rest, that I've come to believe that there is no "easy answer" to a question like this. Every relationship has their unique flavor even if some generalities can be squeezed from analyzing a normal distribution of some measured attribute.

A couple of reactions to the above even though most of it is probably of some general applicability:

1) Sex can be important for people for whom sex is important. After all, they say that the two biggest reasons for divorce are arguments over sex and money.
2) I suppose you can beat the "communicate / argue well" drum, but that doesn't really capture it. Neither does aligning values or love languages or roles or egalitarian division of housework or any individual piece of trite advice. You just do your best to make the right choice (mate selection by whatever criteria you have found yourself finding important*), and then you do your best to make your choice the right one (trying out all the various bits of advice you'll hear, some of which you'll find helpful and some of which you won't in your particular relationship), and then retaining the right to make a different choice if/when it turns out that it's not working. It's just a wild ride. Enjoy the parts you enjoy and do your best on the parts you don't.

* As I've gotten older, I've come to think that you can't choose what you like or what you find important. Maybe it can "change" if you are educated about a thing you didn't know before, but is it really a change in preference or just a change in the awareness of the pre-existing-yet-previously-not-consciously-known preference?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Hristo Botev »

My 2 cents, perhaps not worth even that amount:

Cent 1: We think prioritization is important --> priority 1 is God; priority 2 is spouse/marriage; priority 3 is kids (depending on the day I might put one kid above another :lol:; as in, I'm not too thrilled with DS right now as he just kicked the soccer ball over the neighbor's fence for like the 100th time). Lots of folks seem to put the kids above the spouse, and that seems like a recipe for disaster to us as it is counterproductive.

Cent 2: Don't keep score. This is largely resolved by keeping priorities straight as noted in Cent 1 (note that "me" wasn't listed on the priority list at all); but we see problems with couples that say things like: "The husbands had poker night last weekend, so I get a girls night this weekend"; or keeping score around the house as to chores, or kid duties, or money spending. Recipe for disaster.

Also, mazel tov!

I'll now throw in a couple regrets DW and I both share as we are now in our mid-40s:

Regret 1: We wish we'd have started having children much earlier and had more of them.

Regret 2: Although we don't regret moving away from home (we went to middle school/high school together), we wish we'd have moved back home much earlier than we did.

We'll be married 18 years this April; it's the best.

OK, ETA Regret 3: We should have figured out a way to avoid daycare like the plague. We feel super guilty that we had strangers raising our kids at such important phases of their lives. Major parent fail.

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Ego
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Ego »

mathiverse wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2023 12:20 pm
I recently got married.
Congratulation!

bostonimproper
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by bostonimproper »

It’s not about being right and it’s not about contributing equally. It’s about working as a team to make sure both your cups are full. Sometimes that means leaning in and doing more, sometimes that means saying hey my cup is empty and not martyring yourself.

Don’t let things fester for the sake of momentary harmony. You’re in it for the long haul. That means being uncomfortably blunt and honest about things you don’t really want to talk about or even acknowledge.

Show your love every day as often as you can in whatever way works best for you as a couple. Kind words, thoughtful actions, silly moments. Be generous and even superfluous in your affection, always. Love is a verb as well as a noun.

Make sure you know how to argue constructively. This gets better the more challenges you face together and with time. This is really important to iron out before you have kids.

Speaking of kids: sometimes you’ll feel like you are really angry at your partner, but really it’s just sleep deprivation and the fact that there is nobody else around to blame except the baby, but of course you can’t blame them because they’re a baby! Again, make connection a daily practice and remember you are a team.

Frita
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Frita »

I have been married 30+ years. It was a poorly thought out decision. My belief system and commitment are routinely tested. Here would be my advice to my young self:

Focus on yourself first by learning who you are. Have a loving relationship with yourself and take personal responsibility. Look for people who love and can be responsible for themselves. A good spouse is also a good friend. Honesty, respect, trust, kindness, and communication are essential to all relationships. Does your spouse have these qualities and consistently display them with others?

Define what commitment means prior to marriage for each partner. Discuss priorities and values. Talk about conflict resolution styles. VERIFY what your potential spouse says. Do their actions match what they say? How do they respond to frustration and problems? How do their family and friends respond to such situations?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Hristo Botev »

bostonimproper wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2023 10:34 pm
Love is a verb as well as a noun.
This is good; well said. Aquinas defines love (as in the theological virtue of love) as the "choice to will the good of the other." I suspect you could be married 75 years and still have not fully unpacked that definition; I know I'm still working at it. I mean, Book 1 of Aristotle's Ethics doesn't even come to a satisfactory conclusion as to what "choice" is. And where to even start with figuring out "'the good."

jacob
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by jacob »

Also worth keeping in mind is how adding "persons" to the relationship, whether it's children, an in-law moving in, or even a furry pet, a new career, or a new consuming avocation, could restructure and change the existing relationship. For example, one might change from mainly "being a partner" to "being a parent" once children are introduced.

This is hard to know in advance. It's even difficult to be aware of---many aren't.

Adding (or subtracting) "persons" can de facto be a "re-rolling of the dice" when it comes to the parameters.

Henry
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Henry »

Last night my wife and I are sitting on the Lovesac and she asked me to get her a tissue. I said no. That's not happening. She asked why. I said because I just sat down after changing the DVD and I'm not getting back up. She said I'm selfish. I said no, I'm not selfish, you had your opportunity to ask me for a tissue while I was up changing the DVD. She said I'm lazy. I said you knew that when we got married. I never hid that fact. So I hit play on the DVD and right as I begin to settle into it I hear sniffling. Relentless fucking sniffling. Even with the subtitles on it's fucking me up. I pause the show and we just sit there not saying anything waiting for me to face the fact that I'm completely fucked and that I'm going to have to get up and get her a tissue. So I do the deep sigh thing and say fuck me and get up and get her a tissue. I sit down and listen to the blowing of the fucking nose like the Royal Family is going to make an appearance. When it stops I hit play and we start watching the show. That's how you maintain a marriage.

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