I remember a June day 14 years ago. I was tucked behind the enormous old wooden doors at St. John’s Church, waiting in white to walk down the aisle. My heart was swelled up just like the tears in my eyes. I was heading toward my future as a wife and it never once occurred to me that the future ahead would not last. I was confident that our love would overcome, surmount, dodge, and even defy any obstacle that came our way. Heartbreakingly, I was wrong.
This week as we celebrate the historic Supreme Court ruling that opened the doors of marriage to all couples who desire to bind themselves to the holy laws of matrimony, I find myself thinking back to a day that I mostly try to keep shelved in storage with other bittersweet memories: my wedding day. As the triumphant tag of “Love wins” flashes by on Facebook, I realize how much I wanted my love to win and how I ache for it to be a universal truth - that love will win.
For the last 16 years as a divorce lawyer, I have watched couple after couple as they struggle to hold onto the tattered strings that have become their marriage. I have seen the labor of loyalty as husbands and wives suffer in silence for years before they arrive in the seat opposite me at my desk. And I have seen the similarities. So I share with you some suggestions on how to make your marriage win:
Constant Communication. Keep connected to your spouse. Talk to each other, even when you are tired, sick, and worn down. Keep talking. Never stop talking to each other about your day, your hopes, your disappointments, your dreams, all of it. As soon as it gets silent, the severing may start.
The Importance of Intimacy. Physically and emotionally the power of being intimately connected to another human being is, at the end of the day, what sets marriage apart from all other relationships you will have. The value of vulnerability as it shows up between the sheets or in holding hands often, is not to be underestimated.
Selfishness Serves. Be selfish in guarding your authentic self. With the arrival of children, new jobs, relocations, illnesses, and deaths, it is critical to preserve your authentic self. Be the person that your spouse, and most importantly, you love with everything you have. Take time out to keep hobbies and interests alive to rejuvenate your soul for you and your spouse.
I do not pretend that marriage is easy. I was not able to see for myself at the time that my marriage was fading faster than I could keep up. I wish that I had. I wish that I had understood the critical need to pay attention to these painstaking patterns. I wish I had learned how to rebound and rally when my love was losing. But I didn’t. So I offer up my mistakes, learnings, and observations in the hope of contributing to a bigger win. So that couples, of any gender combination, can make love win.