Thoughts On Marriage

The Art of Marriage - Wilfred A. Peterson, Marriage, Thoughts On Marriage

The poem above, The Art of Marriage by Wilfred A. Peterson was read by Paul Newman  as part of his vows when he married Joanne Woodward in 1958. Known as one of Hollywood's greatest love stories, the couple's marriage lasted for 50 years until his passing in 2008. These words and sentiments are very beautiful, inspirational and true.

I've had the subject of marriage on my mind lately because of the recent news of the Song Song couple's divorce and observations of some marriages around me. I'm writing this as a married lady of 17 years. I was incredibly fortunate to meet my husband during college. We married early and we're still going strong because we believe in and practice love every day.  I'm not saying that I'm expert in any way when it comes to marriage but I have some thoughts.

“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. 
It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.”
Barbara De Angelis

Marriage Isn't For Everyone... and that's okay
There used to be a time when marriage equated success or happiness but revelations like this that women are happiest when single without kids now erase that antiquated notion along with the stigma of being single. Yes with marriage comes companionship and ideally emotional support but getting married isn't the only way to achieve these or a happy ending. You can be with someone and not be married or you can be single. It shouldn't matter as long as you're happy. Marriage doesn't and shouldn't define anyone or their success in life.

"Don't marry the person you think you can live with; 
marry only the individual you think you can't live without."
James Dobson

Don't Ever Settle
Marriage should be a lifetime commitment so it's not something people should enter into frivolously. People should marry for love. Don't settle for the sake of getting married, don't settle because you don't want to be alone, don't settle while giving in to societal or parental pressure and don't settle for marrying someone you don't love because it will only go downhill from there. I always tell my single friends that it's always better to be single, fabulous and living your best life than to be married and miserable. The odds of being miserable go way up when you settle. I'm pretty sure I know people who have settled. They're the ones who look at me like I'm nuts whenever I go on about how my husband is my ideal type and how attractive I think he is because they don't feel the same way about their partner. I can't even imagine being married to someone I don't find attractive.

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, 
always with the same person.”
Mignon McLaughlin

Marrying The Right Person Is Really Important
This goes hand in hand with not settling. While marrying for love is important, it is also important that you and your partner are actually compatible and share the same values on things like family, kids, and money. These are fundamental factors that should always be worked out before marriage. If you marry someone with whom you have very little in common, it can potentially place an excessive strain on your relationship. And don't make the mistake of marrying someone you think you can change because you're just setting yourself up for a disappointment.

I have a feeling that I might not be married if I weren't married to my husband. I'm strong willed and can be a little high strung at times and he balances me out. We share the same values and it's also a blessing that we share the same same culture and it's a big part of who we both are. There are just so many nuances inherent in being and growing up Asian which he just understands. This is something that has really bonded us over the years. He is also not an oppressive or sexist male who likes to tell me what to do.  I know a few people married to this type and I don't know how they can stand it because I wouldn't last a day.

“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.”
Fawn Weaver

Appreciating Your Partner's Good Qualities Goes A Long Way
A lot of marriages can get into a bad place when people constantly focus on the negatives and what they don't like about their partners while forgetting about the qualities that led them to fall in love in the first place. Instead try to acknowledging your partner’s positive attributes and pay them compliments.  My husband and I don't complain to other people about each other. There are things that drive me crazy about him like his snoring, how long it takes him to get ready, how he constantly forgets where things are and how he doesn't wash the dishes right away but I can definitely live with these because his good qualities far outweigh the bad. My husband and I don't complain I'm well aware of how I lucky I am because of the love, patience and respect he treats me with every day. He is a gentleman who opens doors, walks on the outside and doesn't let me carry anything. He'll even carry packages for my girlfriends when we're out together. And he's secure enough in his masculinity to follow a skincare routine that I put together for him (his skin is so good right now) and he also agreed to us having a living room rug that has splashes of pink in it. Oh and he is not a picky eater. Even when I cook something that doesn't come out great, he will eat it without any complaints. Just for that last one alone, I'm pretty sure I won the husband jackpot. Yes my single friends have asked me about cloning him haha.

"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love 
and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”
Tom Mullen

Kindness, Consideration And Respect Should Never Be Forgotten
Never forgetting to be kind and considerate goes a long way to creating to a happy relationship. Just because you've been together for years and are comfortable with each other doesn't mean your manners should go out the window. Little things like saying thank you showing your appreciation or simply being considerate of a personal preference will always be meaningful and show how much you care and respect them. Knowing when to put your partner's needs before your own can also be the difference in making life better and more enjoyable for the both of you. And always keep it respectful when you have disagreements.

"Never take anything for granted as only thing that is certain in life 
is change whether it's things or people."

Never Take Anything For Granted And Don't Stop Saying I Love You
We should live life not taking anything for granted and this applies to your partner as well as your marriage. It can really be easy to settle into complacency especially after years of marriage where you stop appreciating and just start expecting. I've seen couples who are transactional in their actions like I'll do this for you if you do this for me. That's not the mark of a healthy relationship or a good marriage. You never know what can happen so every day with your partner should be significant. Don't assume anything, try to acknowledge your partner and do nice things for them just because. Don't just wait for holidays or anniversaries to do something special for each other. Tell your partner you love them. Everyone likes hearing the words. My husband and I say it to each other multiple times a day and it never gets tired or loses meaning. A friend of mine told me this was excessive. She is married to someone who does not say it. Okay that's fine but if you're not going to say it, then you should showing it through your actions. I do it by cooking my husband's favorite dishes and he will tale care of the chores that I don't enjoy. It doesn't have to be anything major. Little gestures that show you care will always be appreciated. Pay regular compliments to your partner and make them feel loved and wanted. It's a wonder I don't have a huge ego because my husband is always complimenting me.

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. 
It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
Dave Meurer

Marriage Requires Constant Work
The ideal picture of married life is supposed to be filled with bliss, love, and commitment. This doesn't happen on it's own. You can't just go through the motions and expect your marriage to thrive. As we constantly have to work on ourselves, we also need to work on our marriages. This means making time for each other, being present, spending time together and establishing an open line of constant communication and trust. When things get tough, you need to have realistic expectations and be there for each other. If something is bothering you, talk to your partner and try to work it through instead of complaining to your friends. Don't let issues fester until they become unbearable and don't feel like you need to silently suffer just to avoid getting into a fight because that only leads to resentment and misery. Be realistic, be pragmatic, stay engaged and connected. Keep in mind that getting your way doesn't necessarily mean that you win especially when you can adapt and compromise for the greater good. In a marriage, it's not about me but about we. And work on keeping the romance and intimacy alive. My husband and I consciously work to stay connected and just because we've been together for so long, it doesn't mean we let ourselves go. We still like looking good for each other, Our relationship isn't perfect and we have disagreements but we work at it. We make a point of eating dinner together every day and have regular conversations about our lives and goals. We also make time to cuddle every morning and night. Don't underestimate the power of a nice cuddle.

“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. 
Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
Jennifer Smith

A Successful Marriage Is Not Defined By How Long You've Been Married
A long marriage does not always mean that it is successful, healthy or happy. We know a number of couples who've been married longer than us and most of them are hardly enviable because of how disconnected they are from their partners and how miserable they seem. In some cases it's like they're just going through the motions. I mean I have one friend who couldn't wait to come to New York recently because that meant she could get away from her husband. Now I don't offer unsolicited advice to anyone on their relationship but I am very curious how she can stay married when she seems happiest when she's not around him. I can understand why because he's kind of domineering.  And then there are the couples we know who live like roommates, living together disconnected and loveless with polite indifference. Unless you have young children, financial reasons or you've married under false pretenses for the sake of money, I don't understand why people stay married in these cases. I would imagine that enduring a miserable life just to stay married for the sake of appearances or ease must really eat away at your very being and soul though.

“Sometimes walking away has nothing do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.”
Robert Tew

Divorce Is Not The End
Divorce is not a tragedy or a sin. The real tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage. Marriage doesn't always work out for any multitude of reasons. Sometimes walking away and moving on may be the best thing for all parties. I know people whose first marriages didn't work out who've gone on to successful and happy second marriages.

"Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat." 
Joanne Woodward


Pilar said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post about marriage Rowena. I remember when I was in my late 20's and unmarried and people used to ask me all the time why I'm not married. I'm still unmarried, but I agree I'm not just settling for any guy.

Carolyna's world said...

Such a romantic, wise and inspiring post- so many fantastic thoughts :)

Emmylou said...

I love this post, chingu. I wholeheartedly agree with what you have written. Marriage is something that many people seem to idealize but really, as I also tell some people who are single, it is better to be by yourself and happy than be with someone and be miserable, just for the sake of being with someone. I too feel lucky enough to have found my "right person". My hubby and I have been together for about 19 years and I still feel like we're still in the first stages of our dating phase sometimes. But it is of course not perfect. We fight. We disagree about a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day, we make the effort to understand each other. I know someone who is like your friend....that person seems to be happier without her partner. I also wonder...why? Why stay together? They have no kids or anything really tying them together aside from the marriage ceremony. Saying you're happy when others can tell you are not...I don't even know what to say:(
Anyhoo....lots to ponder about. Thanks again for this thoughtful post:)

Ivana Split said...

This is such a well written and in-depth post about marriage. That first quote you shared, the one that Paul read at his wedding day is so touching and it really resonates with me. Marriage is not something that happens on its own, it's not a contract you just sign and you're over with, it is something you need to work on every day because love is something that needs to be renewed/reborn with each day or it will perish. I honestly believe that it is better to be single then to be in an unhappy or unfulfilled marriage. People who stay in unhealthy marriages are making two people miserable, themselves and their spouse (and often other people around them). I'm not saying that everyone who has a problem should get a divorce, but I see many dysfunctional and toxic marriages. Often it seems to me many of them would be better off separating. It is horrible to see those couples who argue constantly and in public, always criticizing each other, even expecting you to take sides (That's one thing I was never able to understand, it seems so attention seeking to me, if you want an advice on issues in your marriage, so seek a professional).

If I were to share one marriage tip it would be to solve one's problems in private. Don't ever talk about your husband/wife/spouse negatively around their back, don't gossip and don't turn yourself into a victim all the time (people often do that so they can escape responsibility). Keeping it respectful when arguing is a must. There are words that no person should say to another person and certainly not a wife to a husband or the other way around. Some people might be more temperamental but insults don't happen on their own and once said, such a word can't be unsaid. People who care about each other should be able to argue in a civil way. Person you're married to should be a person you respect, and if you can't talk with them with respect, then you need to check yourself. Most problems and differences can be worked out when people are willing to collaborate. Good communication in a marriage is really important, but small gestures that show love can be as meaningful as kind words.

I've been thinking about the issue of unhappy marriages in the present day world and I think one problem is that people simply except too much from their partner and they romanticize the idea of getting married. If you're empty on the inside, then the other person isn't likely to change that. People forget that our relationship with ourselves is important as well. Many people expect their partner to take care of all their emotional, intellectual, professional, social, and financial demands and requests. Nobody can possibly fulfill all those roles. Many people project all the responsibility for their life onto their partner and then they just take them for granted and blame them for everything. The worst thing is that some people never learn the lesson, they just go through life blaming others for everything, refusing even the thought that their life is their own responsibility.

Paola Lauretano said...

Such a lovely post Rowena, well written and so inspiring!
Kisses, Paola.


Evi Erlinda said...

Rowena, I love all those quotes that perfectly true thoughts about marriages.

Doctor Anne said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Rowena. I agree with you, a divorce is not the end of the world and marriage not the solution to every problem. But a happy, respectful marriage will make your life rich - you should never settle for less than that.
Marriage is work, and that work should be put in by both parties.

Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

ALLIE NYC said...

Marriage is complicated for sure. It use to be an arrangement: and literally they were often arranged. But the men made the money and kept a roof over everyone's head and the women cleaned, cooked, took care of the children and well...put out. Then we shifted towards a "love" or "in love" based marriage platform and honestly in some ways that is not much better.

In the west and many other societies for that matter people have a rather unrealistic expectation of marriage. People expect it be like it is at the beginning with butterflies in the stomach and mind blowing sex and all mystery and excitement. But as we know that does not last. You can maintain the excitement for arguments sake of Christmas morning 365 days a year. But that is what people expect, they want to have their cake and eat to it. They treat marriage like an amusement park. When they tire on one ride they are on to the next...

The best situation to me is to marry your best friend. Though this can be hard to find which is why so many marriages fail. People marry what attracts them and in many cases it has to do with issues created by their upbringing. Both parties bring their issues and then we all know what happens...

So if you can find your best friend that is key. Not sure if I would agree that the happiest women are single w/o children but no one be it a man or women should tie their happiness to another person or their children.

Allie of

FashionRadi said...

This reminds how much work has to be put into a good marriage! I love the poem!

Jo said...

Thank you for this post Rowena! Marriage is so complicated (second to parenting). These are wonderful reminders.

xo Jo

Only Yesterday Blog said...

Thank you for sharing this, I will gladly keep this in mind. Love the poem, btw :)

Dressed With Soul said...

Dear Rowena, this means we are nearly married since the same time (my husband and I are married this year for six years, but this is already my second marriage). You are so right with every single point and I agree to each of them. Especially the compatibility is often underestimated in my opinion but so important. You really should have the same values and the points you mentioned also.
Personally, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful marriage with my husband and I don't consider this as self-evident.
Thanks for this wonderful post!
xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

Mica said...

Such a good post! :) I've only been married 10 years but I think the things you say are so true. sadly we've seen some of our friends divorce already and it's painful to watch. Marriage is definitely something you work at.

Hope that you had a great weekend! :)

Away From Blue

little luxury list said...

I completely agree with your points. I've been married almost 10 years now and it is definitely a journey. It is a relationship with two people that get older and may change, especially if other factors or people are involved. Change really is the only constant and we may not even be aware of the changes as we go through them. But we need to go through them together and learn to live with the person on the other side of that change. We are definitely aware of it and have had our trials, but are willing to work through it all together.

It's wonderful to hear about your happiness and your marriage. You and your husband both sound like very caring, dedicated individuals and it's wonderful that you continue to cherish each other.

Gabrielle said...

This such a well-written and thought-out post, Rowena! You've listed so many profound points; in particular appreciating the good things about your partner. That applies to both marriage, and outside of marriage :)

Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

Jenny said...

This is such a beautifully written post, and I love the poem you shared. It's simple but it really captures the essence of what marriage should be. It's so much more than a glamorous wedding, it's a journey that requires teamwork to make it to the end, but oh so worth it when you're with the right person. Thanks for sharing this!

Geeky Posh

Anonymous said...


Jackie Harrison said...

My mom alway said to make marriage work there need to be trust, open communication, honesty, respect, and be supportive for each other. Great post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom. It is a reminder to myself that I have to work on my marriage. Like you, I think it is a tragedy to be stuck in an unhappy marriage so I took the courage to divorce (my mom gave me more stress than the divorce itself) and now I'm happily married with my 2nd husband. My fantasy world is so strong that sometimes I cannot accept that reality is this mundane and boring (hahaha!) but I'll try to ground myself and be contented with what I have.

You know if all of us chose to marry for the right and wise reasons, I believe there would be many singles. Because it is extremely difficult to find someone like what you have blogged here. I'm not saying to lower one's expectations till we lie to ourselves, but most of us do settle a little and learn to appreciate the reality.