Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, MS, MPH, CSAT, LMFT #88196

Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, LMFT

You deserve a beautiful life

Sex, intimacy, and relationship therapy

Happy Wife Happy Life...Corny or Actually True?

So one night when I was waitressing I was serving a group of 6 at my restaurant. They were all really cool, laughing and talking to each other. They just seemed really happy and content. They shared food and wine, held hands, ordered for their dates, and pulled out the ladies chairs when they got up. It was obvious there were three distinct couples. I asked them how long they'd all been married. They said their combined years of marriage was about 135. That's crazy for these days of 72-day reality TV "marriages" and a 50% divorce rate. I recently read a quote by Debra Messing that said that 100 years ago people died in their 40s, so "forever" meant a much different thing than it does today with people living well into their 90s. As someone who is fairly newly married, I've been thinking a lot about how to keep my marriage together. How do you beat the odds and make it last? Why does any relationship last or end? Certain unions are meant to end. Let's be honest. If you're 19 and dating a guy who barely speaks English and you have nothing in common with- you probably won't be together for a really long time. But then again, sometimes people in traditional cultures are still set up on blind dates or unions and stay happily married for 50 years. What is the magic ingredient that makes the recipe of marriage end up happy and loving for more than the initial 'honeymoon' phase? Well I asked those three very nice couples their secrets. Here's what they said:

1. Like the title of this post: Happy wife, happy life. This gentleman said, "I try to make her happy," to which his wife replied, "I try to make him happy too." I heard this advice a month ago when I asked a couple celebrating their 10 year anniversary how they stayed together. The wife said she always puts her husband first. My mom once told me how important this is in a marriage. Put your relationship, your partner, before yourself or your kids. That sounds weird, but if you don't have a happy relationship then that could lead to divorce, which, as a child of divorce, you do not want. Trust me.
2. Compromise. You aren't going to get your way every time, and neither will he. Find a middle spot where you both can be satisfied. Example: Not in the mood for sex but she's frisky? Agree to make out or take a shower together. That way you get the closeness of an intimate act without doing something you aren't in the mood for or are too tired to do.
3. Accept them as they are. I LOVE this advice. I'm a big fan of NOT changing your partner. It's just not fair. Would you want someone to be with you for what they want you to be, or for who you really are? Yeah, sometimes I break glasses, drive horribly, am socially awkward and don't listen. But my husband loves me regardless. We are not perfect. No one is. I overlook his flaws and he overlooks mine. Your partner should be your cheerleader/coach/friend, not your parent/disciplinarian. Of course you won't always agree or even like them. I can't tell you how many times I've thought "You're a jerk!" But I get over that fleeting feeling and remember his faults and how I have to accept him for all of him...not just the pretty parts. There has to be forgiveness as well, through things that you can get over. It may be a forgotten birthday, job change, long-distance, illness, accident, broken promise, or even infidelity. These things can tear people apart, and they do. It's not easy to learn from a mistake and move on, but it is possible if BOTH people are committed to the relationship. You can't be in a marriage by yourself.

Anyone can put on a good front for the beginning of a relationship. That's why it's so fun to fall in love. You don't worry about if they'd be a good dad or if they'd help you do the dishes. You wear makeup to bed and secretly brush your teeth before they get up. Heck you're lucky if you get a shower some days, let alone have time to look good. Fifty years of being with the same person? That's not infatuation or lust. That's really loving another person, unconditionally. Now I'm sure those couples weathered a lot of storms over the years- they also had a combined total of 15 children! Who knows what types of problems they've had to weather. But they made it work. We can only listen to their advice because they've been there, done that. I hope one day too I'll be sitting in a nice restaurant, smiling and still enjoying my husband's company after half a century.