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The Heart of a Happy Marriage

Healthy relationships are the product of two individuals who are responsible for their own emotional health and who have something to give to a relationship. The relationship is the vessel that we build to hold and cultivate our best selves. When we are not driven by need, we have the opportunity to give freely, not measuring what we get back against what we give. We have the courage to look at ourselves honestly and the willingness to be held accountable to what we aspire to become. The late Caryl Rusbult, coined the term the “Michelangelo Effect” to describe this dynamic of close intimate relationships in her 30 plus years of research. Her studies demonstrated that love thrived and endured when the relationship’s meaning was interpreted through each partner’s ability to focus on and achieve the personal growth that was held dear.

Michelangelo approached his art with this same eye of love.  He said “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” His work of setting free the figures that were sleeping inside the stone is the embodiment of love as art. His mastery and genius was the product of what he himself  called:  “eternal patience,” which reflects volumes of truth about what it takes to make love and marriage work in our lives.

Loving relationships of all kinds, whether with romantic committed partners, parents, children, siblings or friendships are the most gentle and effective teachers that life offers us to become the person we aspire to be.  Accepting the flaws in the people we love and working with them is the same sculpting work that Michelangelo faced within his blocks of stone. Like a master stone cutter, we learn to discern minor imperfections from the deeper flaws that the “eternally patient” hand of love is able to integrate into the greater beauty of the piece. We create beauty from the inherent difficulties of loving the flaws and imperfections in each of us. This is the heart of a happy marriage.

Read more: Love, Relationships, Sex, Spirit, Wendy's Positivity Quest

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

63 comments

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4:18PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

whether married or single, I suspect there are good days, less good days, great days, and all the possible other options........the heart of life is accepting what you can't change and working to change what you can that is important....works for marriage as part of life, too....

10:46AM PDT on Oct 5, 2012

thanks

6:59PM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

thanks

8:11AM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

My thoughts exactly.
Thank you for stating it so well.

12:43PM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Some of us hold our partners, our parents, our friends, etc.accountable for 'what we aspire to become'. Who can be responsible except us? The other people can only support us.
That goes for career and life goals a well as goals related to character.

4:34PM PDT on May 31, 2011

We're happy, thanks!

4:37PM PDT on May 12, 2011

i appreciate this :)

4:59PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Im a young 23 yr old but me and my man of 4 yrs have been approaching our life this way! hes very excited to eventually start our lives together; and everything you said here sounds like the words outta his mouth almost :) we both realize the effort and responsibility we both have to take, and also the greatness that can come out of it. Its so odd that so many 'adults' have yet to grasp this concept and im scared that friends who marry within these young 20 something years, havent even thought about their emotional intelligence , let alone their partners. All i can say, is its great to see some of the logical things you have control of, and its wonderful to meet people who can see it that way as well :) great article! thanks!

10:34AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences about love.

3:15AM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

thank you

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