5 Keys to a successful marriage…

With Melanie, her sister (Melissa) and our two daughter-in-laws (Beth & Sarah) being in Hawaii this week for a time of relaxation and fun, it’s made me reflect on our trip to Hawaii in 1997 for our 20th anniversary.

This is Beth & Sarah’s first time to see Hawaii, Melissa’s second, with no family responsibilities, no kiddo’s to take to school, take to ballgames, feed, etc. These kind of trips have become something Melanie and I really enjoy.

Melanie, Melissa, Sarah & Beth – Feb 2016

We were on the island of Maui in 1997 for our 20th anniversary. One of our first trips without our kids. We’d had the privilege of going to the Pro Bowl earlier in the year and loved it so much, we just had to go back. Soon.

With Melanie and I being two kids from small town Oklahoma (Arapaho), getting to see Hawaii was frankly, something we didn’t think we’d ever get to do. All we’d ever experienced of a tropical island, was Gilligan’s Island. Living in the heartland of the US, our vacations up to that point were only to locations we could drive to. (Usually Colorado, ….still hard to believe we live here!)

No picture or video does Hawaii justice in the beauty of it, nor can they relay the “Aloha Spirit”. That was something that impressed us from the first trip to today. The Aloha Spirit is ingrained in the culture from generations of Hawaii’s native people and lives today as an example of how we all just need to chill out. (there’s a topic for a blog post all by itself)

One of our dinner plans on that 20th anniversary trip was to go to a luau. Everyone that goes to Hawaii usually gets to a Luau at some point and we sat beside a couple that was there on their honeymoon.

After some casual conversation, and when they learned we were on our 20th Anniversary trip, the new bride asked me to give her husband some advice on how to have a successful marriage. I didn’t even have to think about it, here’s the advice I gave him:

  1. Do what she wants
  2. When she wants
  3. How she wants
  4. No matter how bad you want to know, don’t ask why
  5. You can either do it her way now, or her way later. But make no mistake. You.Will.Do.It.Her.Way.

Obviously I’ve had a lot of fun with that over the years. And of course, Melanie normally just laughs when I say this as she claims I pretty much do what I want as well. I’ve never shared it in any setting that I didn’t get the attention of the wife, and I’m normally asked at that point to talk to their husband and give them that “great” advise. It’s even been suggested that I hold husband classes on this….lol

In 2022, we’ll celebrated our 45th Anniversary. And as most of you that know me, know my joke about the year number. (borrowed from Keith Wiginton) “Feels like 45 minutes…..Underwater!” With Melanie’s sense of humor, she will also always add to this comment when she’s present, “some of those years felt like they were underwater!” For sure.

Our story is pretty unusual. Anytime I share that we’ve been boyfriend and girlfriend since 4th grade, got married right out of high school and have been married for thirty-nine years, I normally get some pretty interesting comments, mostly ahhhh’s. But will almost always lead to advice giving requests.

Let me say, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Because there is no such thing as a perfect person. Marriage is hard. Period. It truly is a constant state of giving and forgiving. Giving and forgiving. Giving and forgiving. Giving and forgiving. Giving and forgiving.

I’ve found the more giving I am, the less forgiving I have to be. Hmmmm…

It’s really about becoming one. One of the songs at our wedding talked about becoming one. There is a lot of controversy today about becoming one in a marriage without losing your own identity. It has nothing to do with losing your identity. It has everything to do with truly loving someone. All of them.

So today when asked for advice – here is how I’d expand on my first edition of the 5 keys to a successful marriage:

Give her what she needs.

Your goal is to find out what makes her happy, then give it to her. This is the foundation of love.

Understand that it’s not “stuff” she wants. She wants you. All of you. Make her your #1 priority. (took me awhile to learn this one)

When she needs it.

Again, she needs you and your understanding, not your stuff. Be so “in tune” with your spouse that you know when they need a hug, a kiss, some space, a fun time, sleep, a vacation, free time to shop by themselves, to hear about every detail of your day, on and on. Timing is everything. If she’s hungry, feed her. If not, then don’t.

How she likes it.

This is critical. Don’t give in the manner of how you like it, it’s all about how she likes it. This is about being unselfish. Selfishness is the biggest relationship killer in the world today. Melanie hates sushi. But it took me about six times of taking her to eat it before I got it. She.Hates.Sushi.

You don’t have to know the why.

You can keep the harmony in the relationship as long as you don’t challenge everything. Everything. Trust me, there is a reason she wants to do things a certain way. There are very few things in life that can only be done one way. The majority of things couples fight about gets back to selfishness. My philosophy is, who cares? Let’s just get it done and move on.

Do it her way sooner, rather than later.

If you give 100% and she gives 100%, then you’ll have the best odds of making it as a couple. The whole premise of a successful marriage being 50/50 has never made mathematical sense to me. That means that score keeping is involved. That assumes all successful things are equal parts. In marriage, this simply isn’t true.

My math is that if you’ll expect 0%, and give 100%, you can never be too disappointed. I believe that all fights in a marriage are because what you expected wasn’t given. Who made you the expectation judge and jury?

When you love someone, you don’t keep score. Scorekeeping is for sporting events. Not marriage.

Intentional Legacy Building is showing marriage really can last for a lifetime.

You need a song.

This is our song: