Successful marriages are far from a straight-line path to bliss. They require constant nurturing and saying “I do” over and over. 

I’m going to dive right in here: taking a task oriented approach to marriage is not the way to go. Let me explain. Some guys (and by “some guys” I mean me) have looked at marriage as a series of things to be accomplished. I know I did until I was enlightened, and by enlightened I mean my spouse finally got it through my thick skull after 28 years. Looking back, I now see the carnage that could have been avoided. Frankly, if the prior rambling was any indication of the tortuous path I’ve started down we may get nowhere but I will begin once again.

Some guys (this is where it always starts) might think that it goes like this: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy wins girl’s heart, girl falls in love with boy, boy proposes marriage, girl accepts, they get married, end of transaction. Oh, that it were so simple. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion the process really does work out as easily and cleanly as this. What then? The simpleton (do I have to spell out who that might be?) would say, “Well of course they live happily ever after. End of story.” He could not be more wrong.

Even the dense would admit that marriage takes commitment. Unfortunately it’s also the dense who assume that the act of saying “I do” completes the contract and assures the other party in the contract that nothing further need transpire in the exercise of said contract. The end result if we’re all good to in fact live happily ever after. Approached in this manner, happily ever after has exactly a snowball’s chance of happening. Get ready, here’s where I impart my 28 years of wedded wisdom on you.

You have to keep saying “I do”. Forever. Now, I know you’re saying, “But isn’t it enough that I said it once, in front of all those people, and the clergy and before God. For crying out loud, we were in front of God!” Nope, sorry buddy, it’s not enough. Every day of your life, sometimes once, sometimes twice, however long it takes, however many times it takes, you have to keep saying it. Because get this; sometimes she won’t believe it. Sometimes you might not really mean it. Sometimes it won’t be enough (you may have to grovel) but you have to say it. Now, again the practical yet dense among you (or writing this) may say, “But won’t that look dumb if in the middle of a fight or when I’ve completely screwed up for the umpteenth time I just blurt out “I do!”.” Once again my literal friend, you miss the point.

After you say the big “I do” you say a million smaller but just as meaningful “I do’s” in other ways. You say “I do” when you say “I’m sorry”. You say “I do” when you go to that work party where you know no one and fit in like the brown shoes you’re wearing with your black suit. You say it over and over again when you clean up the kids’ vomit, the dog’s mess and the wrecked kitchen. The list goes on and on. You must constantly say “I do” in some ways (preferably many ways) on a daily basis because deep down, you do and because your spouse is saying it to you too.

Your spouse says “I do” to you in ways you neither notice nor realize. They make allowances, bite their tongue, laugh at your immature, infantile and off-color jokes and exhibit a thousand behaviors that were it not for those two words they wouldn’t be caught dead doing. Some things they do because they love you, some things they do because they like you and some things they do because they signed that contract in front of everyone, in that church, in front of God and deep down even though they don’t always feel it, they love you.

So here’s the deal. Whether you’ve been in a marriage for 28 years or 2; whether you’re thinking about marriage or whether you’re thinking about not being married, just give this a try. Tell your spouse today, out loud, “I do.” They’ll probably look at you in much the same way my spouse looks at me on a daily basis but an unsolicited affirmation, no matter how unexpected, just might be the start or the re-start you need.

I wish you luck and I’m wondering, how have you said “I do” to your spouse today and how does your spouse make the same statement in their words or actions each day? I’d like to know.


I hope you got something out of this rambling mess and if you did maybe someone you know will too. Please share it around. The icons are below. 

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