Answer by Eva Kor, Married for 55 years to another Holocaust survivor:
I have never been one to give advice in marriage. I give advice in many things, but marriage to me is a very individual experience. It's very challenging because what most of us don't realise when we get married is that we give up our independence, and we do not fully realise what that means.
If I could have an ideal marriage partner, I would want them to be independent, appreciating the independence of the other person, and like who they are before they even get married. You do not need a marriage partner to be happy. The truth is, another person cannot make you happy if you are not happy in your own right. So respect the independence of your spouse.
The other thing is, have some fun. Do something that your partner thinks is fun and sometimes they can do something that you think is fun. If you can share experiences in life that you both had fun at, that really cements the friendship. The ideal marriage should be an unbelievably close friendship with mutual respect, and then the love will come automatically. If you have those two things first, the loving, nurturing feelings will come to the surface.
The difficulty is when somebody is sick, when one person needs a lot of help and the other has to provide it. That will happen in all relationships. How do you deal with that? Don't overdo the nurturing and helping. I for instance do not like people hovering over my head. So find out how your partner likes to be cared for - do they like to have a lot of caring attention when they are sick or do they just want to know you will be there for them as much as they need?
And of course, forgiveness plays into everything. In a marriage relationship, people get easily hurt. So when somebody hurts your feelings, it's a good idea to talk about it because you don't want the raw feelings to simmer there on their own. Address it. Then decide that it's good for you and it's good for the relationship to forgive. Even if the other person has done something wrong, and even if they are not willing to apologise, and even if they think they are right. It is very good for you to forgive them because it will heal you and your partner will come around and accept it, or even forgive if they need to forgive.
Feelings are very easily bruised in one-to-one relationships, and even more so for people who care for one another. A popular saying in relationships is, "If you really loved me, you should have known." I am saying no, that does not exist! You have to say what you want. Nobody can read the mind of another person, even if you love each other and know each other very well. So don't believe that saying - "if you loved me you would have known." You have to communicate - feelings, ideas, and emotions. If that fails, forgive. The forgiveness will always get you through.Suggest a correction