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Jul
20

A Proposal Is Only The Beginning

By

I will never forget a good friend approaching me at our wedding reception.  He shook my hand and congratulated me earnestly, then he stepped close.  Still gripping my hand he looked me in the eye and said, “Now comes the hard part.”

He was right.  There is a danger that once you have a ring on your finger, you might think you have crossed the finish line and all the hard work is over.  However, if you want the marriage to last, quite the opposite is true.  Getting married is not graduation day; it’s the first semester of your freshman year.  It is the start of building a life together, of investing in a relationship that will be robust enough to handle the realities of living with another person, day in and day out.

Dating is about making a good impression; flirting, wooing, enticing and seducing.  However, after your first really good illness, when you are disheveled and exhausted and he is doing double duty to keep the house running and an income coming in, your bedroom eyes won’t cut it.  There will be no more mystery.  So if you stopped trying to build real intimacy when you left the altar, there will be precious little to fall back on.

Instead of a destination, think of your marriage as the journey.  Everything that went before was simply the preparation; packing your bags to see if you were ready to go.  Now you have set out, you will see how well you prepared and how the two of you can improvise what you need to keep going.  But if you want to stop and sit on your pack and expect him to carry you, it won’t last long.  What you need to do instead is two-fold.

First, keep improving yourself.  He fell in love with who you were and where you were going, probably because it was a similar direction to his.  Keep becoming that person, growing as an individual.  It will help him respect you, and provide those moments of delight for you both as you discover new facets to who you are.

Second, keep investing in him.  He still wants to be flirted with, seduced and fawned over occasionally.  The ring he gave you isn’t magical – it is a symbol of what he saw and felt.  It stands for his choice of you over anyone else; keep reminding him why, and that you chose him similarly.

I have been married for over fifteen years now and one of the key things my wife and I can point to in our relationship is our commitment to keeping it going.  It’s not just a bloody-minded determination to stay together.  It is a heartfelt resolve to keep making it better, by building on what we saw all those years ago.  We have our dull patches and our dreary days, but they are part of a much bigger patchwork which is vivid with the colours of love, generosity, affection and more than a little effort.  What’s more, we look forward to many more years to come.  And the best part?  As we live and love this way, it just keeps getting better.

Sincerely,

Dan Kelly

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