It was Benjamin
Franklin who said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage,
half shut afterwards.” Though many clever comments are attributed to
Benjamin Franklin, in my opinion this one is the best.
How can the yet-to-be-married and already-married turn this comment into
The yet-to-be-married have to go into
marriage with their eyes wide open. Marriage is a lifetime commitment.
Things that look charming and attractive while dating, don’t necessarily
stay that way after marriage. The girl that was so harried that she always
had that “lost look” that seemed so cute, will probably continue to
always be overwhelmed. After a few years and a couple of children the
“lost look” will start to appear a lot less cute. The boy that seemed so
mature cause he was very distant during courtship, may continue to be
distant after marriage as well. If a wife is then looking for a closer
and warmer relationship, she will spend the rest of her married life feeling
cheated of that closeness.
Despite all the outside
influences that affect us, most people end up with character traits
that take after their own family; checking into what a family of a
prospective marriage partner is like is step number one and it shouldn’t
be taken lightly. One woman who sat in my office crying that her husband
wasn’t a father to her sons told me, “I should have known better. His
father was so distant and unavailable for his children, but I didn’t
realize it was important for a man to have a father as a role model.” On
the other hand the man who expects his wife to be devoted to him because
that is the model he grew up with - and devotion from a wife is important to
men - will be surprised and struggle with a very needy wife. Usually, all he
had to do is look into his mother-in-law’s behavior before marriage and he
There are exceptions to every rule and I
know many people who have overcome a difficult background, but I found that
most who were successful “kept their eyes wide open” about their own
childhood and recognized that they were wronged. Many people that grew up in
a “dysfunctional” home don’t recognize the dysfunction and therefore
Most important of all is that a young
dating or engaged couple should trust their instinct. In the whirlwind of
courting and dating things get overlooked. In the ensuing weeks of the
engagement things that were just niggling sensations in the back of the mind
can become full-fledged worries. Those worries should be discussed with a
competent authority. Some of them may be “engagement blues,” but
sometimes the subconscious is trying to point out a real problem, that the
young adult is trying to ignore in an effort to make this be the “right
can help resolve a lot of issues. The marriage counselor has seen many of
the problems and recognizes many of the cues that an in-love couple
doesn’t. Using the guidance of a counselor may help to draw some issues
out and find a practical strategy of how to deal with it.
What Mr. Franklin meant to the
already-married is clear. Once married one should overlook, be tolerant and
forget. Overlooking means that not every small thing has to be pointed out
and fought about. The old joke about a married couple fighting over how to
squeeze the toothpaste - from the bottom or the middle of the tube - isn’t
such a big joke. People fight and argue about trivial matters all the time.
What a silly waste of time and energy!
One must be tolerant of
all our spouses’ foibles unless they are harmful - really.
Just because your mother/father/friend etc. doesn’t understand why your
spouse does x,y or z or how you tolerate it doesn’t mean that it’s
harmful to you or your marriage.
One must forget things
their spouse did which they didn’t like and remember the good - and do it
religiously. Something that is a perpetual problem must be dealt with, but
that which isn’t important enough to deal with a professional is not
important enough to be harped on and brought up each time there is an
Benjamin Franklin was
not a silly man. He was married and he knew. If a couple wants the blessing
of a happy home they should keep both eyes open before marriage and one eye