Laughing Together

1. Saving marriage for when you’re actually mature, and not just when you think you are; it’s really hard to contribute your full share if you’re off getting high on your own stuff. How do you know the difference between believing and knowing? Two giveaways are a sense of urgency, or a sense of shame about your choices or circumstances. If you’re making your case to people, then you’re not ready.

2. Marrying someone with whom you can be yourself, good and bad, but who inspires the good.

3. Being mutually free with praise, stingy with criticism and honest about things that are uncomfortable to talk about — not because you have to, but because you believe in each other.

4. Never taking your spouse for granted. Either you share in everything from lofty ideals to the daily workload, willingly as a loving gesture to each other, or you’re asking to be unhappy.

5. Having the good luck to meet someone who forgives you when you fall short, who’s just grateful you tried to live up to your promises (and promise).

6., 7., 8. Laughing together.

9. Shared sexual needs, or shared openness to dealing with mismatched sexual needs.

10. Not needing checklists. I could add to this one all day, but ultimately, relationships either work or you’re forcing the issue — the foundation for endless mistakes.

Carolyn Hax, 27 August 2009

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