via Pam's House Blend
Blog mistress Pam Spaulding continues to brew some of the most insightful and progressive posts over on her site Pam's House Blend. The Blend is one of my daily stops and if Pam is not on your radar then she should be. She's been with her partner Kate for nineteen years and were legally married in Canada in 2004. Below are her tips for a successful same-sex marriage. I'm definitely paying attention. Thanks Pam!
1.This is a big commitment
Don't take marriage as lightly as some of our celebrities seem to. Even if you will vow "as long as we both shall love" instead of "as long as we both shall live", splitting up is non-trivial. If you've ever split up with a platonic roommate, this is a couple of orders of magnitude beyond that.
On the material side, the longer you're together, the more stuff falls into the grey area of "ours" and has to be negotiated at the breakup. Even if you always sat in that chair, don't expect it to be automatically "yours".
On the emotional side, having a real commitment with someone else for years means many shared memories. They will not go away (well, with alcohol, maybe temporarily). The sharpest memories won't be the ones where you fought; they will be the good times you shared. Unfortunately, the best memories will also be the most painful.
When you're marrying someone, you're making something new: a family. Do not bring that family to life if you do not plan to let it grow to maturity.
2.Get pre-marital counseling
No, I'm not kidding. Sit down with a professional who will help you talk through your expectations. It is important that the two of you are on the same page regarding what this relationship is about and where it is headed. As much in love as you may be, if you want different things, now is the time to put on the brakes.
Mary and I had three sessions with our pastor - with homework. Despite the years we had known each other, we still learned some things about where we wanted to go with our lives.
3.Money is everything
Money is one of the primary reasons people break up. When we had our Holy Union, one of the best things our pastor suggested is that we each have a separate account, and possibly a common household account. It's important to not be surprised that your spouse has made a big purchase that left you with $50. It's also nice to be able to buy a gift without having the recipient know where it was purchased and how much it cost.
4.Money isn't everything
Even though we have separate accounts, it doesn't mean she pays hers and I pay mine. We have a general agreement on who pays what, but we're always ready to help each other out in a pinch. We don't keep score with money.
5.Talk... even, especially, when you don't want to
It may sound trite, but communication is essential in a relationship. The worst problems we had were when we didn't talk to each other. I was afraid of angering Mary; she was afraid of making me cry. So we just didn't talk about what was bothering us and instead just got resentful.
Make a commitment up front to talk about your feelings and to listen without judgment. If your partner says "I don't feel like you love me", it doesn't mean "you don't love me". It means that's what your partner feels. Knowing this can help you to find the things that help your partner feel loved.
A long-distance relationship is very hard to maintain, but even people who live together can be distant or too busy to spend time together. Do not become a stranger to your mate.
You're not joined at the hip (well, unless you're marrying your cojoined twin). I used to be terribly afraid for Mary to be away from me. This, of course, was stifling to her.
It's important to trust each other. Part of my wanting to be with Mary all the time was that I was afraid I would lose her. This distrust was not born out of experience with Mary being unfaithful (she wasn't); it was born out of my own insecurity.
If you can't trust your mate, why not? Do they have a track record of unfaithfulness? Are you insecure? And why would you consider marrying someone you don't trust?
This isn't to say you can't have an open marriage. What it means, though, is that whatever parameters you have set for faithfulness, play within those boundaries. And, by all means, explicitly set some boundaries. It prevents the discussion that includes the phrase "I thought we both understood that..."
Yes, marriage takes effort. We have to be intentional about feeding, nurturing, and protecting our families. We are no longer just two people - we are parts of a whole, parts that must work together. If you think dealing with a cranky coworker is tough, try sleeping next to the person you argued with two hours ago.
Marriage is not all work. If there is no playfulness in a relationship, it can become cold and sterile (not that it's bad thing for everyone). How your family plays is a synthesis of the play styles of its members. Know your spouse and let your spouse know you.
12.You will fail
Or, rather, you will have times when it seems like this was all a mistake. You will fall down. You will be hurt.
13.You will succeed
Success isn't a problem-free marriage. Success is overcoming problems together and strengthening your family as you grow together.
I haven't mentioned kids... I think that needs a whole other diary.
Any other suggestions?