My husband and I have been married a couple months, and so far we think our marriage is great. But we’re a little nervous—how do we maintain a healthy, loving marriage for a lifetime? Do you have any pointers for cultivating a lasting, happy marriage?
— Keeping the Bliss
Dear Keeping the Bliss,
The first tip I have is to work on your marriage before it gets less-than-great. You and your spouse will be more willing and able to feed your marriage when you’re having a good day, or even a neutral day.
Waiting until waters get choppy will drastically cut your chance of coming out unscathed. I know I’m using harsh metaphors when we are just talking about a relationship, but if you’ve ever seen a couple go through a rough time, or even a divorce-able time, you will be struck by how they look like they are fighting for their lives.
That’s because, according to Dr. Sue Johnson, we need an emotionally close, supportive relationship with someone in order to live. So if we feel like we are losing that sort of relationship, it can feel like our air supply is cut off.
The trick is to be able to balance the breathing with this other person without suffocating him/her.
And from the other side, the trick is to let the other know when you are feeling suffocated without rejecting the other.
Enough abstract. Let’s concretize things. You are looking forward to a quiet Shabbos without guests. You prepare a modest meal for you and hubby and are looking forward to relaxing on the couch after with an easy-going game of Blokus. (Blokus is a really cool game. Check it out.)
What happens? Everything goes as planned until after the soup. You and your spouse are bringing the main course to the table when you spill a little gravy on your skirt. You go change in your room and come out to a sleeping, snoring lump on the couch. “Sweetie?” Nothing. “Honey, I’m back.” A mere eye flutter. Hmm. Now you’re not covered in gravy—you are gravy.
He wakes up in the 73rd minute and is upset that he missed bentching, and is surprised to see you playing all four colors in Blokus. “What’s going on?” he squints.