Today is my forty-third wedding anniversary. I remember an "Ask Amy" column, published earlier this year, on Valentine's Day, that had a few good rules on marriage. They have proved out in our case:
1. Marry someone a lot like you: Similarity in core values in particular is the key to a happy marriage. And forget about changing someone after marriage; the elders say it just doesn't work.
2. Friendship is as important as romantic love: Heart-thumping passion has to undergo a metamorphosis in lifelong relationships. Marry someone for whom you feel deep friendship as well as love.
3. Don't keep score: Don't take the attitude that marriage must always be a 50-50 proposition; you can't get out exactly what you put in. The key to success is having both partners try to give more than they get out of the relationship.
4. Talk to each other: Marriage to the strong, silent type can be deadly to a relationship. Long-term married partners are talkers (at least to one another, and about things that count).
5. Don't just commit to your partner, commit to marriage itself: Make a commitment to the institution of marriage and take it seriously. Seeing the marriage as bigger than the immediate needs of each partner helps people work together to overcome inevitable rough patches.
For what it's worth, I think that #'s 4 and 5 might be the most important!