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What Makes a Good Marriage?

I think I'm in a good one, but who knows?

two grooms holding hands

It seems to me that humans spend a lot of time categorizing and labeling… everything. We like to make lists of what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s in-between. Even when we don’t know exactly what we mean by good, bad, or in-between, it’s like there’s something in us that just can’t help putting a label on what we feel, what we’re doing, how we’re behaving. Whether due to nature or nurture (or a combination of both), I don’t know anyone who can’t tell you their own personal classification system.

When it comes to relationships, it seems like our need to label goes into hyperdrive. Our partners are good partners when they support our goals and our feelings, and they’re bad partners when they don’t. If you Google “what makes a good marriage” you get a barrage of results—some of them are religious, and some are psychological or medical. A handful are business-oriented, and even those who espouse a minimalist lifestyle have their version of a how-to. As a result, advice runs the gamut. Do you pray more to have a good marriage? Make sure you eat a meal together once a day? Prioritize dates? Remember to pick up the right flavor of gelato on your way home?

Further, what makes a marriage no good? What does a bad marriage look like, and when do you know you’re in one? Is it bad if you’re not happy every day? Is it bad if your partner cheats? Is it bad if it ends in divorce? Or does badness come down to the big stuff, like abuse?

My husband and I would both classify our marriage as good—it’s solid. We speak up when discontent starts brewing, we respect and support one another, and we each make sacrifices when it’s called for to keep the state of the union peaceful. We rarely yell; we keep our high-level discussions out of our child’s head space. He knows what kind of ice cream I like, and I know what kind of kombucha he prefers. No one is cheating on anyone, and for all intents and purposes, we’re happy.

But does that mean our marriage is “good”? Or is our marriage just… a marriage?

What do you think, APW? what makes you look at a couple and say they have a good marriage? If you’ve been in a marriage that’s Bad, how would you describe it? What makes a marriage good, ACCORDING TO your personal definition?

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