Waking up each morning and knowing you are loved is the most valuable thing you can have. I know, because I had it for seventeen years. Having a love who accepts you just as you are is the most wonderful thing in the world. Now, of course, I know my children love me, but it is likely that many days may pass when they do not even think of me. That is the way things should be, as they have their own lives and their own significant others. If their father, John, had lived, we would still be together.
So how do you care for such a relationship if you are so lucky to find one? Well, it does not really happen all by itself. You have to work at it a bit, but it is joyful work. One of those joys is how you change each other. Neither person in a successful marriage expects to change the other. It just happens as they both work at adjusting the fit. We compromise whenever we can, and when we cannot, our significant other does. Most couples never actually talk about doing this. It just happens. However, they do talk about a lot of other things, usually before they are married.
Love is not enough all by itself. A good marriage will also require that the couple share their most important values. In this day and age, they can be quite diverse, so these subject need to be shared. The most important values to talk about are the ones most important to each person. Just for fun, try listing five or ten of your most important values, those which guide your life and everything you do. Then ask your significant other to do the same. Share these lists and talk about them. It is a good sign if the lists are similar, even if the actual text of the value is not. What I mean is if you listed spirituality, family, health, friends, individuality and nature and he listed those same general topics, you have one really big value in common: the things you value.
Talk about these general topics and find out how you each feel about the most important points. You don’t have to keep score. You will remember those upon which you disagree. You will talk them out until you make a decision to tolerate the differences or to come to some agreement by which you can tolerate those differences. For example, if one person believes that physical punishment of children is bad and the other feels it is not pleasant but sometimes necessary, the couple may agree to compromise and decide exactly how much and what type of physical punishment will be needed and what infringements will warrant it.
One thing you need to talk out is money and sex. You should never argue about either of these but aim for a calm talk wherever possible. Discussion is necessary but arguments will only hurt. We were lucky that we shared the same values on these and never in seventeen years argued about either one. Money is far too unimportant and sex is far too important and wonderful to warrant argument. When we had money we enjoyed it, and when we did not we made do with what we had and enjoyed that also. We talked extensively about both these topics, but never exchanged a so much as a single cross word about either one.