The 7 Steps to Happily Ever After
Step 6: Build a best friendship.
Think about the things that make your closest friendships irreplaceable: the
trust that comes with true intimacy, the willingness to be vulnerable, the
confidence that the friendship can withstand some conflict. Don't those sound
like good things to have in your marriage, too?
"Happy couples are each other's haven," says Holland. "They can
count on the other person to listen and try to meet their needs." Greer
adds, "When you're true friends, you acknowledge and respect what the other
person is; you don't try to control or change them. This creates a sense of
safety and security when you're together — you know you're valued for who you
are and you see the value in your partner."
Then there's the way, when you've been with someone a while, that you become
almost a mind reader. You have a shared history and inside jokes. Your guy
knows what you'll find funny, you forward him links to articles you know he'll
enjoy, and best of all, you two can make eye contact at a given moment and say
volumes without opening your mouths. And is there anything more pleasurable
than sharing the newspaper with someone? Sitting in companionable silence,
absorbed in your respective reading, sipping coffee, occasionally reading
something out loud, but mostly just lazing happily together, communing without
needing to speak? Ahh....
Step 7: Face down a major challenge together.
You're sailing along through life, and suddenly you hit a huge bump. A
serious illness. Unemployment. The loss of a home. A death in the family. How
do you cope?
The truth is, you never know how strong your relationship is until it's tested.
All too often, the stress of a crisis can pull a couple apart. But the good
news is, when you do make it through in one piece, you might just find
yourselves tighter than ever.
"What didn't happen to us?" says Daryl, 28, a preschool teacher
in Harrisburg, PA. "My husband lost his job and took a minimum-wage job he
was way overqualified for just to make ends meet. He was offered a better job
in a mountain town outside San Diego, so we moved. Then during the California
wildfires several years ago, our house burned down and we lost
everything. We were living in a one-room converted garage with no
running water and a newborn. But we found that this chaos somehow brought us
even closer together. We took turns losing it. We really kept each other
Hey, marriage is no roll in the hay. It's tough, real work. But the reward, the
edifice you build together that will shelter you through years of tough times,
is more than worth the effort. The small, friendly cottage you build —
decorated with your shared history and stories, filled with color and laughter
— will be the warmest and safest retreat you can imagine.