Following on the heels of yesterday’s post on the purpose of marriage, here are what I consider the six most important components to a lasting relationship. There have to be a few pillars, because let’s face it, pillars do get knocked out from under us. If one or two of these is damaged on life’s journey, the other pillars are strong enough to hold up the marriage while rebuilding occurs.
1. mutual respect
Precisely what you respect might differ, but you have to value your spouse as an individual. Intellect? Accomplishments? Acumen? Beauty? Skills? It doesn’t matter. If you respect each other for who you are, you acknowledge personal value.
Problems will come up. If you are able to hear one another and work together to solve them, you can overcome them.
3. common purpose
Your goal may be to maintain a middle-class life or to conquer the world. You may share a faith or intellectual pursuits. Whatever it is, if you’re both of the same mind and working within the same expectations, your relationship will grow.
4. mutual affection
If you genuinely like your partner as a person, it’s much easier to live with them and their inevitable foibles. Friends make the best lovers.
Trust is earned and must be maintained by constant vigilance. You need to be reliable and consistent, abiding by the understanding and expectations that you develop together.
If you are not willing to leave the marriage if problems come up, then you have to negotiate. You are forced to find solutions to the challenges. Not being willing to accept the possibility of failure goes a very long way to ensuring success.
Did you notice what was missing from my list? 🙂 I suspect that passion is like the paint on a house. It makes it look nice, but it has absolutely nothing to do with soundness of the structure beneath. I wouldn’t want to live in a passionless marriage, but should my spouse be sliced in half in some horrible accident, all the things that make our marriage strong would still be there.
The neurologists talk about the brain chemistry that keeps couples together and passion plays a crucial role. Check out The Science of Love. Is all emotion neurological? Pragmatically, does it matter?
PS 2013/06 I’m thinking that for all my talk of pillars, the walls are the physical intimacies of a sexual relationship. Yes, the roof/relationship stays up without it, but it’s a lot warmer inside if there are walls to keep out the winds!