“Until death do us part” is a time-honored oath declared in most wedding ceremonies, but this promise is often difficult to maintain as numerous challenges wreak havoc on your marriage commitment.
In a society where divorce has become normalized – even expected – how can you withstand those bleak statistics and experience fulfillment with that same person to whom you vowed “I do?”
The following attributes can infuse your marriage with longevity and vitality for a lifetime.
Social Media Does Not Replace Interaction
The rampant accessibility of various networking sites can help you connect with people across the globe, but avid social media usage could alienate you from the relationship worth sustaining above all others – your spouse.
In fact, research conducted at Boston University in 2014 found that a 2% upsurge in nationwide divorce might correlate with increased Facebook consumption by 20%.
So, don’t mistake digital messaging for actual conversation – humans are communicative beings, and your partner is no exception.
Balance Togetherness and Alone Time
Couples who pursue both individual interests and shared activities tend to experience an increased sense of compatibility, engagement, mutual support and positive affirmation.
That’s because each person in the relationship needs separate and conjoined outlets to preserve their own identity, while finding common ground with their spouse.
Bring your unique passions into the marriage, but discover a new hobby you can cultivate side-by-side – whether it’s training for a marathon or taking lessons on the ukulele.
Prioritize Education and Employment
Financial strain can provoke numerous marital issues – deception, anxiety, selfishness, resentment and distrust – but a conscientious view of your job can give your partner the security and stability they desire.
Obtaining higher education also projects to your spouse that you are dependable, motivated, and goal-oriented. The Washington Post even reports 10% fewer divorces among those with a bachelor’s degree.
Conscious Choices Exceed Rash Decisions
When faced with transitions – pursuing a career advancement, beginning a family or moving to another state, for example – couples are more equipped to reach a mutually beneficial verdict when they discuss their options in a thorough, candid and respectful manner.
This approach helps you both fight the urge to react impulsively based on heightened emotions, therefore avoiding tension, arguments or consequences.
While change is inevitable, your response can either uphold or derail the marriage bond.
Use Inclusive Pronouns
Rather than telling your spouse, “I think” or “I need,” research compiled at the University of California Berkeley indicates that “us” and “we” communicate a more unified front – particularly in disagreements.
Using these words during high-stress moments can reduce feelings of division and promote conflict resolution instead.
So, the next time you find yourselves embroiled in combat, remember that “I” or “me” conveys isolation, but “us” or “we” forges camaraderie…a basic ingredient for overcoming obstacles.
There you have it – five ways you can proactively help to ensure your marriage is lifelong…and happy.
But always involve your partner in everything. She’s your partner, not your property, trophy, or servant.
Listening to her should be at the heart of your lives together.
Make no mistake, she needs to listen to you too. This goes both ways!
So make an effort to have time together without interruptions. Put your phones away, turn off the TV, and just talk.
Really listen to each other, too. Don’t spend all of your time just waiting to speak.
Practicing mindfulness could really help you, especially the use of deep listening. You’ll hear things you’ve often missed in the past – and you’ll get to know her so much better as a result.
It’s true that following all of these steps will take time and effort. If you’d like to kickstart your journey with a peace offering, then consider one of our beautiful gifts for her.
Dr. Carissa Coulston is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 research publications in high standard medical and psychiatric peer-reviewed journals. She has experience in managing a wide range of problems within the Psychology spectrum from common everyday issues such as stress and anxiety, to more chronic and severe mental health conditions.
Carissa writes a regular blog on relationship management and helps people deal with various problems they face in relationships, offering advice on how to resolve difficult situations, strategies to cope with and move past painful and disappointing experiences, and tips on how to improve the overall quality of relationships to achieve happiness and fulfillment.
Exactly 0% of young couples getting married care to hear about the percentage of marriages that end in divorce.
This makes it almost inevitable that the cycle will repeat itself for some time without end.
While eliminating divorce altogether is not a reasonable goal, we could reduce it greatly by considering the marriages that end in death do us part.
The one and done marriages seem to have at least this one thing in common: The successful couple has mastered the art of communication.
As with everything, there are always isolated exceptions. But in general, great communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage.
The thing is, that communication didn’t start after the words, I do, were spoken.
Productive communication in marriage begins at the dating stage, and possibly before that.
Here are a few things that need to be successfully communicated before tying the knot:
If you don’t know your wife’s favorite color in year one, you might have a hard time making it to year two. It is a basic point of knowledge that should be assumed at a certain point in the relationship.
While such things may seem trivial, matters of taste will affect everything from where you live to family diet.
You should already have the basics of her personal tastes down cold long before you present the engagement ring. Perhaps she would flip for one of those morganite engagement rings with rose gold. But you can’t make that assumption simply because it is highly fashionable and stunning in every lighting condition.
She may prefer something in amethyst due to that being her birthstone and favorite color.
Remember? She told you all about how it was her mother’s favorite color and…
Well, you may have stopped listening at that point. And that’s a problem. Because knowing your partner’s preferences is a sign that you have been paying attention.
And not knowing is a sign that you haven’t been. Knowing personal preferences is the foundation of everything else to come.
A dislike is not exactly the opposite of a preference. You can know that your partner loves cabbage without knowing that they hate lettuce.
Often, especially in the dating process, a person will withhold their dislikes in order to appear more agreeable. They may go as far as to pretend that they like a food that they really hate.
Unfortunately, this always leads to bigger problems down the road.
The key to avoiding this is to start during the dating process. Be honest about your likes and dislikes.
Risk having the friction during the dating phase rather than bringing that friction into the marriage.
This is a good time to set expectations early. Make your feelings clear about things like:
* TV & entertainment
It is not fair to blame your partner for pushing all your dislike buttons in marriage counseling if you never made them clear while dating.
Is your idea of retirement the exit from corporate life, and the occupation of the world’s finest beaches by age 65?
There is nothing wrong with that view of retirement unless, that is, you happen to be married to someone who considers that sloth. Perhaps they think everyone should work until they die. After all, the great men of the Bible didn’t retire.
I officially abstain from the debate that you and your spouse are going to have about this issue. But if you would like to avoid it, have the discussion about finances while you are dating.
We often hear communication in a marriage is everything, and that is indeed true.
But good communication doesn’t always require dialogue.
One of the most proactive measures I’ve taken to bring about a more peaceful marriage is to not talk.
Well, less than I used to anyway.
The reason this is important is that men are a largely silent bunch.
They speak far less than women do—research shows women talk some 13,000 words more per day than men!—not because they have nothing of value to offer but because men don’t talk just to talk. They think first about what they have to say and then ‘bottom line’ it.
That’s not how women operate.
To us, talking is second nature; and it starts when we’re young. Our girlfriends come over, and we talk for hours on end, or they don’t come over so we talk for hours on end on the phone.
Even as adults, a ‘girl’s night out’ is often filled with incessant gabbing. And if we haven’t seen a friend in months and then spend two hours together, we feel like we haven’t said squat. “We have to get together again,” we implore. “That wasn’t enough time!”
If you’re female, this will sound very familiar. A man won’t identify with this at all—although he may recognize it from his experience with sisters, wives and girlfriends. Women talk.
I once went to a ballgame with my husband and another couple. From the moment the other wife and I sat down, she and I turned toward one another and began talking. Half way through the game, we were still talking—and still facing one another.
The man behind us finally leaned over and asked what in the world two people could find to talk about for that long, especially in the middle of a baseball game! The truth is, we didn’t even know who our home team was playing.
Now I realize that’s an extreme (although 100% true) example, and I’m not suggesting most women don’t like baseball or would be as clueless as I was about who’s playing whom.
I’m simply demonstrating that talking is a largely female activity.
As a female, if I have a thought, I need to get it out. I love to talk! To communicate! To analyze! To dissect!
I could talk all day. I talk even when there’s nothing to say.
But that was not going over well in my marriage.
Men aren’t wired to communicate the way women do. They communicate in a different way, one of which involves—ironically—silence.
There’s a great scene in the movie Aloha when a military contractor named Brian is in his former girlfriend Tracy’s kitchen. Tracy is now married to Woody, an Air Force recruit who doesn’t talk much. When Woody walks into the kitchen where Brian and Tracy are chatting, he stares at Brian for a really long time. Then he walks over to him, looks directly into Brian’s eyes, and gives him a hug. Then he walks out of the room.
Lamenting her husband’s quiet nature, Tracy says to Brian, “See what I mean?” But Brian tells Tracy she has it all wrong and proceeds to tell Tracy everything he got out of the “conversation” between him and Woody—all based solely on body language.
Men are very attuned to body language.
Your husband is deeply affected by your intonations and facial expressions, as well as by the way you walk. He’ll pick up on your mood before you’ve even opened your mouth. That’s the power you have as a female. Even when you don’t talk, you’re making a statement.
We live in a culture that celebrates the loudest among us. But the advantages of being quiet are manifold.
Not talking gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts before saying something you wish you hadn’t. Not talking makes your husband perk up because that is his language. Not talking makes you a better listener.
For one week, decide to keep your feelings to yourself. Every time you want to say something, zip your lip and think first: Do I need to say this? Weigh the pros and cons first.
Then, when you do speak, do so carefully and purposefully as opposed to just talking every emotion you have in order to release your frustrations. (You can call or text your friend for that.) After you’ve been quieter than usual for a week, watch your husband start to be more receptive.
Watch him instigate conversations with you.
Suzanne Venker is the author of five books that challenge feminist narratives regarding men, women, work & family.
Her newest book, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS, will be published February 2017.
They accomplish things together. They play together.
They genuinely seem happy and content.
They seem to have it all…
They are a Power Couple.
What’s their secret?
What is it that they’re doing to make their relationship so strong and enduring?
The secret is…
They work at their relationship. Every. Day.
Whatisn’t a secret is that you can have this kind of relationship too!
By replacing a few of those old energy-draining habits with some powerful new habits… you and your partner can power out of your relationship rut and into the marriage you’ve always wanted.
So what are these powerful habits?
Let’s take a look.
Power Couples Communicate
Power couples know that communicating is more than just “talking” to each other. They are open and genuine in expressing their feelings and needs.
They are present in the moment (yes, that means you have to put down the cell phone). They seek to understand first instead of thinking of their next response.
Power couples regularly engage in deep, emotional discussions that tap into a level of emotional intimacy that just “talking” misses. They nurture that emotional connection that is so vital to marital satisfaction.
If you need one more reason to improve your communication here it is…
Emotional intimacy lays the foundation for physical intimacy. Yes, a satisfying marital sex life starts in the head not in the… you know what.
Power Couples Invest In Their Relationship
Power couples know that what they put into the relationship will come back to them ten-fold. They make an effort, do the work and take the time necessary to keep the relationship healthy.
When you invest in your relationship… you trust what you give will grow. However if you invest nothing… you have zero chance of a return.
Investing sometimes means doing the hard things even when you don’t want to.
Compromising when you want to argue or seeing the positive in your partner even when they’re at their worst. Those kinds of actions build trust and commitment. Investing signals to your spouse, “You are worth the effort”.
Power Couples Make Intimacy A Priority
Power couples know that intimacy is much more than just having sex. Intimacy is that emotional closeness between you and your partner that allows you both to let down your guard and share your innermost personal feelings.
Intimacy grows from spending quality time together. Power couples make it a point to do the little everyday things that connect them as a couple – like making it a priority to eat dinner together or taking an evening stroll. They create little everyday rituals that run through their lives like a thread keeping them connected.
Power couples know the power of thoughtful gestures: snuggling, hugging, hand-holding, sweet words – those little things that create closeness.
And here’s a bonus… Couples with higher levels of emotional intimacy tend to report greater satisfaction with their sex lives. And speaking of sex…
Power Couples Get Physical
Emotional intimacy is important but let’s face it… we like to have sex too! Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. Sadly, it’s also one of the first things that can fall by the wayside when life gets in the way.
Not connecting lately?
Power couples know that sometimes you have to leave a trail. A well-placed sexy note, a provocative text… even a whispered sweet nothing can bring your partner’s attention to the here and now.
Power couples know that you have to prioritize sexy time. Date nights, a spontaneous rendezvous, a surprise weekend getaway… even penciling yourself into your partner’s calendar can all keep sex on the schedule and just a little bit spicy.
The bottom line is… keep sex as a top priority.
Power Couples Fight Fair
Make no mistake… even power couples have their conflicts.
What sets them apart is the way they fight. Power couples know that when handled the right way conflicts are an opportunity for growth in the relationship.
So what does “fair fighting” mean?
In healthy relationships it means listening to understand each other’s feelings. It means looking for a solution and being willing to meet each other in the middle.
Fair fighting sometimes means apologizing when you need to. Yes, even power couples have to apologize sometimes. Hurtful words do tremendous damage. Once said aloud they can never be taken back.
If they do come out… a sincere apology can help the healing process to begin. Power couples know the power of accountability and forgiveness.
A marriage is not a contest and power couples know this. It’s not about “winners and losers”. It’s about finding solutions that empower you as a couple.
Want to learn more ways to power up your marriage? If so, you need to see this: