It’s odd how the simple words, “to have and to hold,” that seem of so little consequence during a marriage ceremony, become the reason for cataclysmic divides. What goes wrong? Actually the problem is, by most standards, generally with what goes right.
The truth is most couples getting married don’t have much. Their pool of material possessions satisfactorily fit loosely into a small apartment. Budget constraints mean simple meals shared together at home or with other couples in similar circumstances. After years, however, the things a couple accrue over time can easily have their time. Like the responsible dad who, after assembling a swing set, reads the instructions again and discovers that each of the hundreds of bolts are supposed to be checked for secure fitting EVERY MONTH. He learns that while he thought that he had a swing set, the swing set has him.
When couples marry, they are overwhelmingly into holding each other. They rush to get home. Over time, things may change. They come to see me when they have been holding grudges, having thoughts of escaping or are violating the bonds they committed to keeping.
How then can couples avoid these traps and continue to blissfully have and hold each other?
1. Whenever you have the opportunity to do so, sit or stand next to or near each other. That means, in public, though you are socializing, it is clear that you are together.
2. Make purchases that pass the test of whether this thing or that thing will bring you together or separate you. Will you be parted by working extra hours or taking on another job to pay for this thing?
3. Invitations to be community stewards abound. Choose projects that allow you to work together.
4. Remember that your success as a couple is enticing to others. It is critical that you speak respectfully and affectionately to and about your spouse.
5. Whether you take fewer long vacations or more frequent vacations for fewer days at a time, make sure that you plan couples-only excursions.
Your marriage is your greatest asset. Unlike other valuables, however, your marriage is not kept in a safe-deposit box or insured. The only protection that your marriage has is you keeping your promise…to have and to hold.