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How to Make a Marriage Last

My Husband and I at a Concert

We met when we were 15-years-old at a hunter's safety course. During a break on the second day (it was a three day course), I noticed him and his friends staring at me. I already knew one of the guys in the group so I motioned for him to come over and asked why they were staring. I was told it was because they wanted to meet me. So my friend introduced us. Back in class, a couple of the guys, including my friend, were trying to impress me, except for the man that would later become my husband. He just kept his mouth shut, watched, and listened. During the final break, I got cold so I wrapped my arms around myself and just stared out the doors. One of the new guys wrapped his arm around me like we were the best of friends. Excuse me??! I asked him to remove his arm, that he didn't know me enough to touch me like that. He didn't listen which led to him and my friend fighting. Over me... seriously??! I didn't know guys actually did that kind of thing! The boy that would become my husband took his leather jacket off, came over to me, wrapped his jacket around my shoulders, and walked me away from them, saying, "Come on, you don't need to be around these idiots." Smooth! From that moment on, we were the best of friends.

As friends, we tried dating a few times, and on the last day of our last time dating in high school, he was going to propose to me. The problem was, I wasn't ready to settle down and get serious with anyone. I was having more fun playing the field, so to speak, discovering what my "type" was. I didn't know that he was going to propose to me and I broke up with him before he had a chance to. Thankfully, our friendship survived that fiasco! I eventually helped him hook up with a friend of mine, and I moved on to one of our mutual friends. Before we each moved on, however, we had made a promise to each other. We swore that if, by the time we were 30, we hadn't found anyone else, we would get back together and get married.

Fast forward to the year 2000. He was in a serious relationship. He and my friend had been together for seven years and they had a son together. I had moved across the country, still searching for my happiness and raising a child of my own. A tragedy struck my life and I was in another state without any friends or family. Even though we had drifted so far apart, mileage wise, we had remained friends and stayed in contact. I had tried to get family to come help me and nobody would/could. I didn't even have to ask him to come. As soon as he heard what was going on, he said, "I'm on my way!" He really was the best friend any girl could have! He traveled 3000 miles, left his son and girlfriend at home, to help me out. We got through what I was dealing with and he brought me home. He gave me a place to stay and in turn I gave him free child care. But the relationship between his son's mother and him was rocky. I decided to go somewhere else and right after I left, they broke up. Even knowing that he was in love with her still, we began dating again, but it didn't work out. We went our separate ways again and stopped talking for a little while.

In the spring of 2002, we began talking again. We were each unhappy and we missed each other terribly. He came back home and we moved in together. In two short months, we were married, at the age of 24 (we are only a month apart in age). December of 2003 saw the birth of our first child and July of 2005 saw the birth of our second. To say that things were tough would be an understatement. We fought and argued, mostly about finances and the babies. It was hard on him being the sole breadwinner, and it was hard on me being the primary caregiver/housekeeper. They were roles neither of us were used to. A few years later we suffered a hardship that I honestly didn't think our relationship could survive. This hardship affected my mental health and I had a breakdown. But he stood by my side.

Our marriage has suffered a lot over the year, from our family being torn apart, to me being unfaithful, to each of us lying to the other, but here we are, 16 years in and stronger than ever! I have had people ask me over the years, and more so with each passing year, how we have survived for 16 years. This is how....

Our marriage was built on a foundation of friendship. Years of friendship. With that friendship came unconditional trust and love. Our trust in each other was put to the test and that leads to the second reason our marriage has lasted.

Forgive. Be willing and able to forgive each other. If you can't, you won't work. Trust me on this! We almost didn't work because of this very thing! My infidelity almost ruined everything and I will never stop finding ways to make up for it! That brings us to the next...

Communication... open and honest communication. If you are unhappy, talk to your spouse about it. Don't keep it to yourself. This only leads to more unhappiness. Tell your spouse exactly what you are unhappy about, but be careful not to make it seem like you are attacking your spouse. If not getting enough attention is your problem, say something like, "I feel like I am not getting enough attention" or something similar. Same with any other complaint you may have.

Build each other up. If your spouse does something that makes you happy, acknowledge what they did, and thank them for doing it. If you notice your spouse working hard at something, recognize it. I know, I, personally, love it when my husband acknowledges when I have been working hard. This is part of the communication, but much more positive.

Finally, try to keep your home stress free. Everyone deals with enough stress on a daily basis at work and in life. Having a lot of stress in the home helps cause toxic relationships. Again, speaking from first hand experience. Don't allow outsiders to voice their opinions about your relationship (unless you are in a toxic relationship, in which case, RUN!). Your marriage belongs to you and your spouse, and no one else! If there is a problem with it, work it out. Don't let the problems build up until you can no longer contain them. That is a ticking time bomb to disaster!

And finally, be willing to fight for the love you share! If something happens to put a strain on your marriage, don't let it break you up. Fight for your love! Show your spouse that you are not giving up, that your marriage means more to you than that! Give romance a try! Apologize if it is needed. Seek professional help if that is what it takes, but fight for it! Everything worth keeping in life is fought for!

My husband and I are sixteen years and counting. Can you say the same?

Michelle Frank
Michelle Frank

I'm a mom of 6, grandma to 2 and a wife of 16 yrs and counting. I have been to hell and back several times and have survived it each time thanks in large part to my husband. When I write, I do so from the heart and from personal experience.

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