For men only: Marriage is not for sissies

It's so much easier to walk away from disagreements; don't do it

It's so much easier to walk away from disagreements; don't do it

February 20, 2009|By CHRIS COPLEY

I'm a lucky guy. By chance, the woman I married was willing to go to the mat for our marriage, as was I. And both of us were willing to work hard and venture off the beaten path to find ways of staying married.

I'm sure there were ways in which we were lucky. But there were a few decisions we made early on in our marriage that set us on course for a good, long marriage. I recommend:

1. Be honest

This is a biggie. If you're not honest with each other, it's hard to trust each other. And lack of trust undermines a relationship.

Being honest can be hard, especially if you grew up trying to be tough or deflecting your parents' blame.

But the pay-off is good. Be willing to be vulnerable to your wife. If you want honesty from her, let her see you being honest.


2. Argue, but fight fairly

When I first got married, I had a hard time arguing. I am driven to resolve and make nice. I had to learn to argue. Resolving disagreements is good, but being a doormat is not. Stand up for your point of view and for your feelings, too.

But when you disagree, be fair. First, feep to the topic at hand. Don't blame your wife for your actions and emotions.

Second, if you feel hurt, say so. Not to get back at your wife, but to let her know how you feel. That's important. Also, listen to her when she tells you how she feels.

Third, stay in the present. Don't bring up stuff from the past.

3. Allow separate lives

It's great to do things together. It's vital, in fact, for building a strong bond. But don't lose yourself in togetherness. Set aside some space for yourself. Have your own friends, your own hobbies or activities. Develop yourself as an individual.

And - fair's fair - let your wife have her own friends and activities. You want her to be a whole person, not just an extension of you.

4. Be willing to change and grow

This can be a hard one. On the one hand, you want stability and dependability in a relationship.

But nothing stays the same, especially people. You need to grow and change. So does your wife. The things you like to do or eat or watch on TV will change over time. The same is true of your wife.

This makes both of you more interesting people. As you grow older, you'll take up new hobbies, or meet new kinds of friends, or change your weekend activities. That's a good thing.

Herald-Mail Lifestyle editor Chris Copley has been married for nearly 25 years to Yolanda DiFabio. He sees marriage as an art; there's no one-size-fits-all formula for relationship success. Got comments or questions? Send them to

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