And They Lived Happily Ever After

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

No, this is not a step by step guide on how to be happy as a single person. Nor, is it a cleaver marriage advice article with some sage wisdom on how to be happily married. If you are looking for a cute spin on how to be single or stay married, move along, move along, nothing to see here.

What I can tell you is how to be happy unmarried and with none of the loneliness that being single sometimes brings. What if I told you that you could be yourself and be happy in a relationship with the same commitment and security that marriage brings? Would you try it?

It took a long time…three failed marriages, and almost a lifetime of being with the wrong people for me to figure it out.

Marriage is hard. What we are told as young impressionable teenagers and young adults in all the doe eyed love songs and romantic comedies are lies. If you are a young person reading this, do not grow up and get married. It is indeed a trap. I hear the skeptics….yes you can have all those amazing, wonderful traits of a healthy relationship and a marriage. Yes, you can. If you do, you are a lucky fool. Look at the marriage and divorce stats. Over 56% of marriages end in divorce. Feeling lucky now?

So more than half of married people will agree with me.

Marriage is not sweet nothings and romance. Marriage is a messy kitchen, dirty laundry and temper tantrums. Marriage is sacrifice for someone who doesn’t notice. It is learning how to be an expert in self reliance. It is being lonely and doing it, all of it, yourself. Marriage is being taken for granted by the one who is supposed to care about you the most. It is being told that what he does will not affect you, so he does as he wants, leaving you to wonder what the hell is wrong with you? Marriage is a nightmare not a happy ever after dream come true with rainbows and fairy dust. Marriage is work and if you are the only one working on the project that is designed for two, it will fail.

Finally, I figure out where the debacle lay. After dissecting my own experiences and that of others who more than willingly shared with me the history of their marriages. I looked at why marriage is called a prison complete with ball and chain. I read through vows that said things like “honor and obey”. I looked at the legal contract side of marriage. Why is it that so many of us are so in love until we are married for a little while? I heard things like, “Oh, all marriages are like that. Love fades and passion wanes.” Why do so many people change after they get married? Marriage is nothing but a legal way for someone to own you and sue you when they decide you no longer serve their purpose.

I thought there must be a different way, a better way to live and be happy. I delved into the history and biblical concept of marriage. I looked at other cultures from my own to see what marriage was like. At first, as a Christian, I thought I must be wrong. God wants me to be married, right? Nope. God wants me to be loved and to love.

What I discovered was that the dynamic is completely different when you take legal marriage off the table and make love the catalyst, the foundation and the center of your entire life. You find yourself in a state of perpetual honeymoon phase with the added security that your pseudo-spouse is with you because he wants to be with you not because he has a marriage license that says he has to be with you.

To not be married you have to be unselfish to a fault. You have to put the other person’s happiness first. Make a promise to love each other more than anyone else. Decide not to assume that the other person is always going to be there. Instead, make a life that causes them to want to be there. Make decisions with the other person in mind.

Allow your person to retain their own identity. Do not expect them to like everything you like. Do not attempt to absorb them into your personality or lifestyle. Let them want to participate or not.

Always speak to the other with respect and mean it. Do not conjure imaginary ideas about what the other person must be thinking, you know what they meant or what they want. Because you are a skilled mind reader, right? Not! Ask them and ask the right questions. Do not argue, rather talk things through like adults. Value each other.

Here is the big one, respect each other. When you get mad, and you will, talk it through with respect. When you need to stand your ground, do it with respect. Respect the other person’s right to privacy. Foster trust by proving it. Not by presuming the other person trusts you. They do not have to, you will want to earn it.

Make a vow not to go looking for an alternative person to confide in, sleep with, or spend time with. Do things, important and not, together. Let them do their own thing, be yourselves without fear of rejection or retribution. Sit in the silence together.

Being not married, the focus shifts from self to the other. In marriage, it is easy to ask, what is in it for me? When you decide as a couple to be together, without the contract of marriage, but a covenant of respect and love instead, there is the knowledge that the other person chooses you.

Love is the core of this type of partnership. It is unpretentious. It is open and free. It is not self-serving. It just is. If you do it right it is not work and happiness abounds.

~Lori O’Gara

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