Carolyn Hax Column

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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By Carolyn Hax
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

From your many years of advising people, what do you think are the main things that make a marriage happy and lasting?


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.

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