It is a dangerous game to give advice. It is especially risky to offer suggestions on marriage. Yet, most of us still do it. There are countless books, blogs and brew-meisters all dedicated to helping the hapless find their way to a productive and satisfying union. Cliché directs us that they “key” to a happy marriage is a happy wife. Perhaps that is the point, but how does one create the happy to which it refers?
Before Carolyn and I made the trip down the aisle decades ago, we were required by the church hosting our wedding to meet for a scripted series of get-togethers with a local couple that might guide a successful beginning to our anticipated nuptuals. I often thought at the time that they were the gatekeepers in place to keep us from making a disastrous move. So, on our first meeting, we took a very lengthy compatibility test. Our proctors “graded” the survey and found that indeed we had a chance of attainment in marriage. When I asked if others had failed, the husband turned to me and related that they often wondered whether the would-be newlyweds had just met in the driveway before taking the test – not only lacking compatibility but also interest!
So, said our model couple, we could talk about the real requirements to success in lifelong relationships. Young and eager, we leaned in awaiting receipt of their garnered wisdom. “Pick-up your towels,” said the wife. “And, visit with her friends like they are your own,” said the husband. For the next several weeks, we learned of the basic interactions upon which cohabitation is built – responsibility, finance and goal-setting. There was no magic pill and no easy cliché. Could it be that simple respect is the key ingredient to making relationships work?