How to Make Marriage Work

February 17, 2003My wife, Annaliza, and I don’t claim to be relationship experts. We have been married for almost 10 years. The first couple of years weren’t pure heaven. We had our adjustments especially with the coming of the two babies. We had our fights and arguments.

However, we did not stop growing and maturing together as our relationship grew and matured with us. Fights became rare and arguments were welcomed diversity in our daily routine. Anyway, there’s nothing sweeter than a kiss and makeup.

What works for us?

From Annaliza:

  1. The very important thing is that I have learned to submit everything. This is where I have struggled during the early part of our marriage. I was an independent person since I was young – living away from my parents and making decisions on my own. But, when I became a married woman, I learned to let go of that personal freedom and submit myself to my husband.
  2. Communication. This is another area in my personal life that I have strive to overcome. I liked to keep things in me. I would save up all those feelings inside of me and let James figure out what’s in my mind. I figured, instead, that James is not a mind-reader and this wasn’t helping us. I learned to communicate better and to break things down for him, so that he can better understand where I am and how I feel on certain things.
  3. We do have differences, and we learn to accept that. We tolerate each other and that is a good thing. More to that, we take interest in each other’s likes and inclinations. James knows the kinds of movies that I want and he will make sure he gets them from Blockbuster or Redbox. I also learn to appreciate Broadway musicals and some of the TV shows that he is so fond of.
  4. We focus more on our similarities. Both of us fear and love God. Both of us like helping other people, even strangers. We like Scrabble, Monopoly and playing Bingo. In small and big scales, we make sure we do things that we both love together on a regular basis.
  5. Capitalizing on our improved communication, we talk about things and make decisions together. Then, we show a united front to our kids and our families. It is never an Annaliza’s decision or James’ decision alone. It is always “our” decision. We make sure that we back each other up.
  6. We talk all the time. We spend quality time together and just talk. James calls me every afternoon and we would talk even if he is already on his way home. Before we sleep, we talk and check how our day has been. Our conversation moments are spent pouring our hearts out – emptying it with frustrations and filling them again with each other’s love and support.

From James:

  1. Obedience. When I married a military member, I knew what I was getting in to. I promised my wife that I will follow her wherever she may go.
  2. A better ego. Because of obedience, I had to sacrifice the “man ego.” Every time we move, I have to leave my job. I can be unemployed and that is just a fact I have to accept. I can get start from the bottom of a career ladder and make my way up. Some people do not understand that it is difficult for a man to do this, but I believe that I have chosen a better ego, rather than a self-preservation, society-concocted ego otherwise known as the “man of the house.”
  3. A happy wife. This is probably one advice I have always given to people. A happy wife is a happy life. This simply works for us. I make sure that my wife is happy. This means that I am truthful to her, I can be trusted and I do things that make her happy (massages, gifts, surprise dates, etc). In return, she takes very good care of me. Since she’s the first one to leave every morning, she makes sure I still have lunch money tucked in my Navy Fed pocket calendar, and that I have water next to my medicine. She knows when to drop off and pick up my dry cleaning. A satisfied woman does know how to take care of her man.
  4. Annaliza is the purse keeper. She handles finances. I just ask for a weekly allowance (daily lunch money). No argument about money. I don’t audit her as well.
  5. We know our expectations of each other. They are clearly laid out. She knows that I have friends, too, and I need time to be with them. Her only expectation is that I tell her when she would expect me to be home. She knows that before she makes any career move, she needs to discuss it with me first. When one is making dinner, the other needs to give the kids a bath.
  6. Mind distractions. When she is away on a deployment, I try to keep myself busy. I take the kids out all the time. I keep myself busy at work. Write a blog. Anything that can keep my mind occupied, so that I won’t miss her that much. However, I also make sure that I keep in touch with her through e-mails and letters (since phone call is a rare convenience for them). I can write a whole new blog on how to keep a long-distance relationship working, but the bottom line is that both needs to survive and prevail from the absence and do productive stuff instead of conceptualizing assumptions in your head about your significant other.
  7. Respect. This is very important.We respect each other’s individuality. We respect each other’s opinion because they do not always conform to ours. I respect the fact that sometimes (or a lot of times) she is right and I am wrong. Sometimes I needed her to tell me that I am wrong and she says that candidly, but kindly.
  8. Empowerment. We fully support  each other and we make sure that we continue to grow in our personal, professional, intellectual and spiritual lives. If you are in an unhealthy relationship where you are stuck and you feel like you are not growing anymore, then you need to evaluate your situation and make a decisive action.
  9. She is a child of God. The most important aspect of our successful relationship is my acknowledgement that she is a gift from God. God entrusted her under my care, so I will love her unconditionally – with all her flaws and imperfections – simply because God chose someone like me ,with all my own flaws and imperfections, to spend the rest of my life with someone like her.
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