My nephew is getting married today to a fantastic girl who I am glad to be able to call my niece.
I thought that one of the best gifts I could give them would be some insight into what others think of marriage. After all, smart people learn from people who have already been in their situation.
Sure everyone is different but hearing other peoples’ perspectives can give you an added point of view.
So I have written about lessons I have learned from marriage and I asked other bloggers what the best thing and the hardest thing is about marriage or long term relationships. It was very interesting that while I phrased the question as best and most difficult or hardest, many of those that responded used worst in place of difficult.
Here is what they had to say:
The best thing is having a best friend.
The worst thing is that a marriage never stops being very hard work, and you never believe how much work it’s going to be until you’re there, doing it.
She actually also recently wrote a post about going through tough times.
His first “joking” comments were:
1. Best thing about marriage: A friend for life 2. Worst thing about marriage: A wife for life
Then at my insistence he got serious:
Best thing about marriage: Learning and growing together. AND, learning and growing with/from the opposite gender’s point-of-view!
Worst thing about marriage: (sorry I almost did the same answer – as it’s sort of true and works) – for a man, monogamy (that’s the hard ugly truth, I’m afraid), for a woman it’s dealing with the general male lack of emotional intimacy, I think.
I’ve found that the most beautiful and challenging thing about being married is one and the same thing. The goal of a healthy marriage is setting up the conditions so that both partners can grow in a safe, loving environment, and it’s an absolute joy to watch your partner grow through time. Angela – my wife – is much more intelligent, kind, loving, and beautiful now than she was 13 years ago when we met, and I’ve loved being a part of her story.
At the same time, it’s also possible to constrain the growth of your partners because of the historical expectations that come with any growing, dynamic relationship. On the one hand, we know our partners better than anyone else does, but, on the other hand, we have to leave some room for them to grow and emerge differently than they’ve been in the past.
So, the challenge is to give them that safe, loving place and to help them celebrate their history while at the same time giving them the foundation to grow. If you continually push your partners to grow, they won’t feel safe and cherished, but if you don’t give them room to grow, they’ll be unable to flourish.
This is easier said than done, so the best how-to advice I can give on this is to learn to ask your partner two things:
1) Do you feel loved, cherished, and supported, and what can I do to continue to support those feelings?
2) Do you feel as if you have room to grow and become yourself, and what can I do to help you do so?
Practice asking those questions once a week and you’ll probably be able to watch your relationship and partner grow for the rest of your lives.
The best thing about marriage is that marriage has the potential to make you ten times better.
The challenge in marriage is that you must become “better,” in order for the marriage to work.
Becoming “better” is very hard.
The key is to focus on loving your spouse, despite the circumstances. If you work on loving each other, your marriage will be a beautiful wonderful thing.
Wow now you’ve got me thinking. There’s a good thing about being married???? ;-p
The hardest thing about marriage is the constant compromise. Each day is made up of thousands of little compromises – coffee or tea? Holiday at home or abroad? Sleep on the left or the right side of the bed?
But the very best thing is having someone in your life with whom you long to make and keep making every single one of those little compromises.
The best thing about marriage is knowing that you have a partner for life. Living a life in synchronicity with another person so that you are each an individual but together you make another persona – your relationship and marriage becoming another identity to hold. And the way that each day, each decision and even each argument is a chance for recommitment to both your individual ideals and the maintenance of the relationship.
The worst thing about marriage is the fear that it will consume you or that you will force your spouse to become someone they are not. It is hard for modern humans to move beyond their self-importance and let their individual personality take a subservient role to being part of a team. You will worry constantly that marriage has changed the essential you or that you have demanded too much change from your partner.
The best things: One of the best things about being married is having someone to share special moments, big steps I take in my life, and cool new experiences with. For example, Andy (my husband) and I have done a fair bit of traveling together and I think that most great experiences, like traveling, are enhanced by sharing them with someone and being able to plan and get excited together in anticipation, being able to see each other’s reactions to those experiences, and being able to talk about the stuff you loved about those experiences and tell the stories together for years after – thus savoring the experience even further. Having a partner in it all just makes everything you do a little richer and more meaningful.
Another thing I’m often very grateful for in my marriage is knowing that I have at least one person in the world with whom I can totally be myself and drop all the “social self” anxieties about whether he’s okay with what I said or did. From talking about my fears, to owning up to my stupid thoughts, mistakes and selfish-nesses, to not having to bother what I look like, to farting out-loud… being loved through all of that (and more) has enabled me to own up to more parts of myself, and be more whole than I was before. Being happily married isn’t about being completed by someone else, but it can allow you to feel more safe and free to complete yourself.
The hardest things: We got married when I was 20 years old, and perhaps because of my young age (although I suspect people who get married later in life get plenty of this too), I got lots of advice from people. Some of it was useful and empowering, but most of it was just a list of arbitrary rules that people had decided would increase our chances of being happily married. I had assumed that marriage was a deeply personal decision, between the two of us, and I was sort of shocked to realize that it’s a social institution that comes with a bunch of social expectations and gender role prescriptions.
I got married and suddenly my friends and family were asking me to bring a salad to the barbecue, or to make a desert for the family shindig (me, not Andy! Married men don’t make food, right?), and people wanted to know when (not if!) we’d have children and we were being asked when (not if!) we’d buy a house and I was expected to make a house look pretty and to make my husband come home early, and to feed him great food…
We spent the first year of our marriage separating out what bits were other people’s social rules and expectations being projected on to us and which bits were our values. That first year was tough, but since giving ourselves permission to discard other people’s rules for what a good marriage should look like, and getting clearer about what was really important to us and making a marriage around that, it’s been mostly fun and pretty easy being married. 11 years down the road, I can say that deciding to make up our own rules for a happy marriage is the best thing we did, and every year together, as we re-invent the rules and discard the ones that don’t serve us well, being together just gets better and better.
Best: The ecstacy of reunion. The passionate intimacy and the ease of understanding that only time can cultivate. The security of knowing you are still connected. The rollercoaster of love. The stomach aching laughter and the in-jokes. The cliqueness of the union.
Hardest: The agony of separation. Staying when the chips are down and you want to run for the hills. The pain of misunderstanding. The frustration of the incarceration. The evolution of roles and balance. The lack of independence.
Best: Always having a date for every event.
Hardest: Sharing closet space and bathrooms.
The best thing about marriage is getting to spend every day with the most amazing and fun person in the world to me.
Hardest thing? Having to share the bathroom. And once you have kids, trying to find time to be alone together occasionally is tricky.
Best – Having someone you trust by your side. For everything. From the mundane – opening jars, fixing plugs to something more profound -enjoying new experiences, talking through problems, being comforted physically, feeling safe, sharing warmth in winter in a cold bed.
Hardest- Hard work and effort that it requires to make a marriage work. To keep communicating, be thoughtful to another person at all times, happily put the other person first, and compromise – truly a skill that doesn’t always come naturally.
Best: Having someone you know is watching your back. Having a second opinion on everything is enormously helpful.
Hardest: Having to always compromise and consider someone else. Sometimes you just want to be selfish.
The best thing about marriage is you never have to wonder whether someone in the world wants to listen to you.
The hardest thing about marriage is listening.
She also wrote a post about the first year of marriage.
The Best Things: Someone who loves you near unconditionally, someone who makes me laugh everyday and is my best friend – trite but true.
Someone who understands that I need space to myself or a good sleep when I’ve been awake all night with a baby/sick child.
Someone I can tell my deepest darkest secrets to and will hold me when I cry.
Someone who loves his child more than anything and would do anything for her.
Compromise – seriously he doesn’t get my need to paint the house purple, and I don’t get his love of football but we make it work.
Growing old together and knowing that we are a team who love each other till the end lover, partner & friend.
Worst things: Knowing that sometimes despite my being right, I have to back down in an argument, at the end of the day it sometimes doesn’t matter who was in a movie/tv show and being right isn’t everything. He feels the same!
Being apart when one of us has been working away
Taking each other for granted, easily done and we work hard not to forget what a special thing we have.
Going to sleep on an argument without making up, rarely happens but when it does you always feel 100 times worse in the morning
Best – Having someone to share everything with – the good & the bad. Never having that ‘alone’ feeling.
Worst – Sometimes not being able to make them better if they are ill or make them happy if they are sad.
Tough question. What is the hardest thing about marriage? and the best thing? After giving it much thought here is my answer:
It applies equally to both questions. Marriage is by far the hardest thing I have ever endeavored and that takes into consideration raising five kids! It requires constant work and attention. And far and beyond it is is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I am who I am today because of the person I became after I was married — I’m considering that a pretty good thing.
For me the best thing about marriage is being married to my best friend. He really is. He supports me 100%, he is there for me whenever I need him, he tries to help me however he can. He’s really the perfect husband for me. I’m so grateful for him.
The hardest thing about marriage I think is not letting the little things get to you. Like when they leave their socks next to the hamper or putting dirty dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher. Letting those things go sometimes is difficult but letting them eat at you can really wreak havoc on the marriage.
Good: being married is like being wrapped up in an enormous comfort blanket. No matter what happens, you’re enveloped in warmth and reassurance.
Bad: being married is inescapable and at times claustrophobic. I find myself wanting space on my own with my thoughts.
Best thing - always having someone to watch out for you. Good or bad you always have someone there for you no matter what. Encouraging you to be the best person you can and being there for you if things dont quite go to plan.
The hardest – compromise. having to take on board another persons feelings or thoughts and sometimes put those before your own. trust – putting your faith in someone else and trusting the decisions and paths they choose in life for themselves, you and your family.
Hardest: always having to consider someone else before yourself.
Best: having someone to support you through the rough times.
Wendy @VBinCatalunya at Very Bored In Catalunya The best and worst thing about marriage for me is sharing. On the plus side there is the sharing of your lives, the moments that you will cherish, your wedding, the birth of your children, all the wonderful things your children do to make your heart swell. The sharing of the stresses and strains, having someone there who holds your hand and walks the journey with you. Someone to tell your darkest fears to, the sharing of your soul. The downside of sharing: the bed, the remote control, that box of chocs you got for your birthday. But mainly your time, when sometimes you just absolutely want to be alone, and not want to share your head space.
Kristen at Mothering Mayhem
The best thing about marriage is being united with a partner with whom to face the world. Suddenly your goals and motivations are the same. Whenever children come along, this unity means sharing that all-encompassing, adoring love for the children – suddenly they are more important than either of you, and that just feels right to both parents.
The hardest thing about marriage is merging different upbringings and backgrounds. Both people have opinions on ways to approach problems, and their own way feels natural… it can be hard to see your partner’s approach as anything but odd.
Best: Knowing someone well enough to finish each others’ sentences. Knowing the best and the worst of each other.
Hardest: Not always seeing eye to eye on issues that are important
The best thing When I’m with my husband I can just be myself, totally at ease and comfortable. Safe in the knowledge that he loves me unconditionally.
The hardest thing Trying not to take each other for granted. You need to remember to make an effort to be a couple, especially when you have children. Have regular date nights (even if you stay in) where you remember why you fell in love with this person in the first place.
Eddie Bluelights at Clouds and Silver Linings
I think you are looking for serious answers and not funny ones, although I do feel that a good sense of humour is essential in a marriage, in fact it is a good catalyst for getting together in the first place.
I would say that the best piece of advice I ever had when my wife and I married 37 years ago, is from the Bible and it goes, “Let not the sun go down on your anger!” meaning, “If you have a row or a difference, always make up before you go to sleep!” We none of know for certain we will wake up in the morning and it is nice to part, albeit temporally, good friends.
So the best thing about marriage is, in my humble opinion:
Total union and total committment to each other for the rest of your life with no cop outs. It is for keeps, meaning a lover for life, a companion for life, a friend for life. And I think it is a three way contract between the man, the woman and God, who will hold the marriage together in difficult times.
The hardest thing about marriage:
To give your partner some space and to receive space in return to have some time alone by oneself. It is difficult sometimes to get the balance right but I think it is essential not to live totally in each other’s pockets. I would also add to the gents, if you see another beautiful lady do not ogle while the wife is there – she will notice! Wait until she is not there, and remember you can look but you must never touch LOL
Best thing about marriage: that special someone for whom you are fine, just as you are.
Worst thing: being that person, the one they think is you!
The worst thing about marriage is when you are not “on the same page” about something that effects the family, sometimes I think my husband and I are not in the same book! Trying to compromise is not always effective…
The best thing is a feeling of belonging to someone who loves you and that you love. That is so hard to describe because it was different before we were married, some how with marriage it became cemented – a tighter bond.
The best thing about marriage? I’d have to say that life’s a lot easier to handle when you no longer have to handle it on your own.
The worst? I suppose that would be the other side of what I just said. You now have twice as many problems to get through than when you were on your own.
The best thing? Having someone to share your life, your ideas, thoughts, the washing up…
The worst? Having to share! You really should offer your spouse that last piece of Green and Black’s milk chocolate with toasted almond or half of that creamy cheese cake. I draw the line at sharing towels though. ____
My husband and I met five years ago, and after only a few months we knew we’d get married. We simply enjoyed each other’s company, and soon were inseparable. We’ve now been married two years, and though we are just starting out, it’s clear we are well suited for each other. We have a similar temperament and enjoy the same things, but we are happiest when we are together. Even when everything is going wrong and the world seems against me, his mere presence is a comfort and it isn’t long before he makes me smile. For us, marriage is being together, sharing our lives. Whether you’re enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning or waiting together in the pouring rain, sharing these small details of life makes the world brighter.
Life isn’t always happy and easy though; there will always be work stress, financial worries and family dramas. And while your partner is there to help shoulder the burden, they aren’t there to suffer your anger or frustrations. We find this is the hardest part of being married; not letting those outside problems and worries affect how we treat each other. It’s so easy when times are hard to sink into grumpiness and lash out at those dear to you. Whether my husband has had an awful week in the office or I’m exhausted and aching, snapping and sniping at each other only creates hurt feelings and anger.
Despite the difficulties we’ve faced the last few years, we’re better for having faced them together. We’ve learned to check our words, never speaking out in anger. And if something does slip by us, we apologize immediately, all because we love our life together. We got married because we found someone to spend forever with; someone who feels our joy when we achieve our dreams, and someone who understands our pain when tragedy strikes. Together we celebrate those small perfect moments and together we overcome the worries and frustrations that might tear us apart.
Galit from Minnesota Mamaleh
I think that the worst and best of marriage are intertwined with each other. Building new traditions for *your* new little family while maintaining and respecting both of your family-of-origins ways of doing things. Oy! that’s *hard,* and do I dare say, impossible to fully do? everyone involved has to give…something, somewhere. And the whole mish-mash requires way more flexibility and compromise than I never knew to worry about!
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to answer me. I really appreciate it. If for some reason I left someone out who answered me, please let me know. If I did, it was only an oversight. I was not censoring.
To the young couple. I wish you a life together that is full of love and understanding. A life that is full of joy and happiness. A life punctuated by respectful communication. A life filled with all the things that will bring you peace and serenity.
Remember to learn from those who have done things you are about to do. Use their advice and make it into your own in your own unique way.
May this day be the start of a beautiful, happy and loving life together. Mazal Tov. (Congratulations)
Image: Wedding Day © Another Goldfish