During one of my seminars, a woman asked me a question. She said, “How do I know if I married the right person?”
I noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so I said, “It depends. Is that your husband?”
In all seriousness, how do you know if you married the right person?
Here’s the answer.
EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.
Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love…because it’s happening TO YOU.
People in love sometimes say, “I was swept off my feet.” Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.
Falling in love is easy. It’s a passive and spontaneous experience.
But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.
The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.
At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, “Did I marry the right person?” And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.
Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances.
But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it.
I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully) THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON; IT’S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND.
SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It’ll NEVER just happen to you. You can’t “find” LASTING love. You have to “make” it day in and day out. That’s why we have the expression “the labor of love.” Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work.
And make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.
Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable—you can “make” love.
Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships and has an international reputation for helping people renew their marriage. In addition to working with couples, he teaches individuals how to single-handedly transform their marital situation.
People from all over the world schedule private tele-sessions with Mort Fertel and seek his counsel by joining the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp. He is the author of Marriage Fitness Audio Learning System and the creator of Marriage Fitness Home-Flex, the most comprehensive relationship home learning kit in the world. Over 100,000 people a year subscribe to his free e-zine.
Mort Fertel appeared on NBC, CBS, PBS, and the Fox News Network. He is also a frequent guest on talk radio programs. His breakthrough work, Marriage Fitness, was profiled in The Washington Post, Family Circle, Psychology Today, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour Magazine, Fitness Magazine, The Library Journal, Women’s Health, The Denver Post, The Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun, and The Toronto Sun.
Mort Fertel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, was the CEO of an international non-profit organization, and a former marathon runner. He lives with his wife and 4 children (including triplets!) in Baltimore, Maryland.