What is a Successful Marriage?

The practice of man includes the practice of monogamy. That is, having just one wife or husband at a time. There are societies where both men and women practice polygamy. There’s one in which it is common for a woman to have from six to a dozen husbands all at the same time.

But as far as society is concerned, since we invented paper and printing, men and women have been writing on what constitutes a successful marriage. I believe it was Syd Harris that said, a successful marriage is a miracle. I think he comes too close to the truth for comfort.

Always first on the list is compatibility. Compatibility, the state of being compatible, is defined as the capability of coexisting in harmony. It comes from the French word meaning compassion.

So compatibility means the same thing as sympathy, being sympathetic to the wishes, problems, hopes, plans, likes, and dislikes of the other person.

I have personally never liked the saying that a marriage should be a fifty-fifty proposition. This implies a border, like the edge of your lawn. If you’re a good neighbor, you don’t worry about where your yard ends and the neighbor’s begins. If you mow a few feet of his lawn, you’re demonstrating a willingness to do more than your share. Marriage works best if there are no lines drawn as to how much one or the other will do for the other person.

Compatibility means being with someone who likes the same things you like, or at least a lot of the same things. You can’t be carbon copies. It means being able to talk to each other on the same level, having close to equal intelligence.

This is particularly vital since 99.9% of a marriage is a non-physical relationship.

It is a mental and emotional relationship. Unless the mentalities and emotional states are compatible, there’s like to be some disharmony.

The best way on earth to have a successful marriage is to treat the other person at all times as the most important person on earth. However, people are funny; some people respond to this type of treatment like a blooming rose. Like money or alcohol, this kind of treatment makes a good person better and a bad person worse. The emotionally unstable person can be given all the love, attention, and affection in the world and still want more. Like a sponge, they soak it up, but like a sponge, they sometimes won’t give it back, even if you try to squeeze it out of them. This is why the selection of a mate, in the first place, is so vital.

Most of us rush into marriage like we’d been doing it all the years of our lives.

We close our eyes to the other’s faults and concentrate on a couple of good points. Then time begins its almost imperceptible, glacier-like advance, polishing the faults, and revealing both as they are. If they can adjust, fine, if they are both mentally and emotionally mature, they can solve all their problems. If not, as Syd Harris said, “A really good marriage is a miracle.”

Compatibility – it’s quite a word. It means the capability of coexisting in harmony, and it takes two really fine people to achieve it. When they do, there is nothing on earth as wonderful.

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