Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience — trial and error.
Whether you are newlywed, or refer to yourselves as ‘old Ball ‘n’ Chain,’ every marriage has its share of ups and downs. While it may sound cliché, lulls and patterns of mundanity are natural to the ebb and flow of married life. Periods of stress, boredom, and poor communication are part of the course.
“Marriage takes work.”
Marriage does take work, and like anything else in life, you have to do the work to reap the reward. But the work of marriage is not like cleaning the toilet and taking out the trash. The effort that goes into a successful marriage (read happy, functional and fulfilling) is the type of work that can be fun and therapeutic.
In a survey that we conducted, we asked happy couples to divulge the key to successful marriage. Read on to know their 15 tips for a successful marriage.
1. Be independent
Independence was rated ‘extremely important’ in a marriage. In order to be happy in a relationship, we must be happy first. That is, in fact, the key to a successful marriage. With that in mind, wives and husbands must continue to take out time for themselves, enjoy their personal hobbies, and in general, spend some time apart. Not only does absence make the heart grow fonder, but in the time we spend alone, we get to reunite with our spiritual side, re-establish our sense of self, and check in with the progress of our personal preferences, goals, and achievements.
Being dependent, on the other hand, weakens your resolve and ability to move forward as a free thinker. When we maintain our independent sense of self, we will always have something to talk about at the dinner table, and we are forever stronger, healthier, and more attractive to our partners.
2. Be a good listener
While all women should work at the art of active listening, we emphasize this as an area of special attention for men. Too often, men do not realize that all their partner needs from them is a listening ear. This is due to their programming and the way in which they are taught to relate with others.
Remember that listening and hearing are not the same thing. Listening involves our hearts. Open yours, hear what she says, look at her while she speaks, paraphrase even, and reassure. Listening is the real key to a happy marriage, for that matter, to every relationship
3. Agree to disagree
Being good together does not mean that couples agree on every little thing. Most of the couples we interviewed actually had varying attitudes, opinions, and belief systems; and even held opposing views on major areas in some cases. All couples should have some level of disagreement somewhere. Successful, loving couples respected the point of view of one another, and even had a sense of humor over their points of contention. Recognize that of two opposite views, one of them does not have to be “right”.
4. Communicate – know your partner’s ‘Love Language’
There are several books out there on the Languages of Love. This was developed of the concept in psychology that each individual has his or her own unique way in which they communicate love. By knowing your partner’s preferences and hobbies, metaphors can be used in communication that relate to something the person understands well.
Observe the physical way in which your partner shows love. This could be, washing your car, or picking up the kids. From her, it could be keeping the toiletries stocked and ironing his shirts. For others, its words, letters, and affection. Figure out your partner’s love language so you will always know how to speak to him or her. Love languages are often talked about but couple don’t heed as much attention to this that what they should. Understanding love language is the secret to a happy relationship.
A major relationship killer, lack of acceptance is a trait more commonly attributed to women, who are known for their nagging. Remember, we married our spouse for who he was then, and who he is now. Even if we wanted to change him now, we can’t.
When urging or persuading him, you are only focusing on his weaknesses or problems. Change your perspective immediately and start focusing on positive traits instead.
6. Take responsibility
It is that easy and one of the secrets of a successful marriage. When you participate in a project, take responsibility for your successes and your failures. When you and your partner have a disagreement or argument, remember to take responsibility for your actions, including anything you did or said, especially if it was hurtful, unthoughtful or created adversity.
7. Never take one another for granted
Taking one another for granted may be the most toxic pathogen of all. Once they are comfortable, it is easy for couples to begin to slip into a complacent state – and expectations form. This is actually only a matter of human nature, as we get comfortable with what is familiar, but in marriage, you absolutely should never come to a place where you take your partner for granted.
Pledge to respect your partner indefinitely no matter what. Avoid assumptions, and offer to do nice things for your partner whenever possible.
8. Date night
Among the other tips for a successful marriage, this tip is the most ignored and overlooked by couples, especially those who have been married for a while. It does not matter what a couple does on their date night. Simply having a night when they spend their time just with each other strengthens the bond and maintains it over time. When you have date night, you should turn your phones off and put them away so you are free of distractions. Watch a movie at home with popcorn or go hiking or rollerblading together. Change it up often and be helpful and positive for one another.
9. Add romance
Romantic acts can be many – try giving her a flower someday or place a love note in his briefcase or backpack. Surprise him with his favorite meal, or watch the sunset together. There is no shortage of ideas; and you’ll be amazed at how far a little romance goes toward strengthening
10. Keep intimacy alive
Sex is very important to a healthy marriage. Sex should be regular, and therapists suggest doing it even when you’re not in the mood! We suggest keeping it interesting by talking about what pleases you, and adding any fantasy role playing, positions, or bedroom props you may want to introduce to keep it exciting.
“A compliment a day keeps the divorce attorney away.” Acknowledging your partner’s positive attributes every day, and paying compliments, will go a long way in your relationships. Stay positive, and keep track of what your spouse does well. When the going gets rough and his not-so-great attributes come forward, rather than focusing on the negative, try switching gears, and point out the positive stuff instead.
12. Look for the soft emotion
Behind every “hard” emotion is a soft one; this is a concept taught by psychologists. When we feel anger, it’s usually masking another emotion behind it, such as sadness, disappointment, or jealousy. We often just use anger as a disguise to protect our vulnerabilities. Looking for the “soft” or, vulnerable emotions underneath someone’s hard display of anger, will help keep you connected as you are better equipped to empathize with that person’s true emotion.
13. Let go of the fantasy
Unfortunately, we are socialized to believe in fairy tale endings and we may carry some false perspectives on reality with us into adulthood. We need to recognize that, while marriage can be a beautiful thing, it is not effortless, nor will it ever be perfect. Have realistic expectations and do not fall victim to the fairy tale – you may find yourself sorely disappointed.
14. Do not control
Married people often come to a place where they start to lose themselves, they give in to jealousy or feelings of inadequacy, or they forget that they are separate people away from their partners, and they may they may try to control their partners. Most of the time this is done inadvertently, as expectations may grow over time. Communication, independent time, and healthy indulgences will keep any couple on track. If you sense you are being controlling or are the controller, get a handle on it or make an appointment for a family counselor.
15. Never use the D- word
Presuming you don’t really want to get a divorce, don’t threaten to. Couples that use the D-word or talk about separation during fights use this as a control mechanism. Couples using it in a threatening way are more likely to see Divorce come to fruition. Making threats is not a mature strategy for solving any problem, so don’t do it.
Most happy couples swear by these successful marriage tips. Follow these tips on how to have a successful marriage; you will not only be able to save your marriage but also be able to enjoy a highly successful one.