‘For better and for worse, till death do us part.’ Most people make this vow during their wedding, yet very few live up to it. And, in most cases, it is not death that puts couples apart, but the differences and disagreements that occur in the marriage union. You often wonder, could there be any recipe to ensure a long-lasting marriage?
Yet, the thousands of divorces recorded each year do not mean that all marriages are doomed to fail. Yes, you can have a lasting and happy marriage if you work at it. So, how can you ensure that yours goes to the record as, not a failed marriage, but a successful and happy marriage? This article will help you understand how you can make your relationship not only fulfilling but also one that lasts forever. Read on!
The Recipe for a Long-lasting Marriage
Ask several people for relationship advice, and you will get all different types of answers. However, the secret to a long-lasting marriage involves more than just the ‘never go to bed angry’ advice that your uncle gave you, or the ‘be a man and let your wife know that you’re the head of the family’ kind of advice that our friends give us. If you are to make yours a happy and long-lasting marriage, then you have to work at making that happen.
But how can you specifically work at making your marriage work? The following are eight tips that have proven most effective in guaranteeing long-lasting marriages.
1. Maintain Reasonable Expectations
When you and your spouse exchange wedding vows, you do not instantly become two experts on married life. It is true that when each of you was single, you acquired and developed social skills that are essential in marriage. Still, marriage life usually tests these skills in entirely new ways, most times resulting in both minor and significant differences between couples.
Therefore, it vital that you maintain reasonable expectations in marriage. Your spouse will make mistakes; not once, not twice, but very many times. So, don’t expect perfection from your sweetheart. When either you or your spouse make blunders, try to turn these into humorous situations.
Think about it this way: marriage life is like learning how to ride a bicycle. When you start learning how to ride, you will experience some tumbles and falls. However, the more you know, the more confidence you will gain as a cyclist. In the same way, be rest assured that both you and your spouse will make several mistakes in your marriage life. Hence, by lowering your expectations in marriage, you will be promoting a happier marriage guaranteed to last forever.
2. Be Appreciative
The book ‘Emotional Infidelity’ explains how Gary Neuman observes the behaviours of different couples during their sessions. He explains that these couples “are much more concerned with what is not happening in their marriage than with what is.” In other words, these couples tend to focus on what they need to change in their marriage, in turn failing to see the positive aspects of their marriage that need not change.
Take a more in-depth look at yourself. Do you appreciate your spouse, or are you the sort that is continually focusing on the mistakes made? Research shows that couples who regularly show appreciation for each other have higher chances of staying together for long, than those who don’t. Therefore, don’t be mean with your gratitude; make this act a daily part of your life.
But how can you show an appreciative attitude in marriage? As they say, it’s the small things that matter most. So, tell your darling husband that you appreciate how he works hard to provide for the family. Let your dear wife know that you understand how she keeps the house clean and cooks sweet food. These acts of appreciation may seem small, but they work wonders at promoting long-lasting marriages.
3. Avoid the Revengeful Attitude
How many times have you thought to yourself, ‘I will give my partner a taste of his/her own medicine,’ when they did something wrong? Neither of us likes to be treated with disrespect or taken for granted. But is taking back revenge the solution? Of course not! At the moment, taking revenge when our spouse wrongs us may seem right and justified. In the long run, however, the act of revenge only serves to strain marriages and contribute to divorces, rather than promote healthier relationships.
On the other hand, trying to understand your spouse can prove to be a more effective solution than taking revenge. Also, be sensitive to the feelings of your spouse. Getting a clear understanding of why your spouse acted in a particular way will help you to solve problems faster before these can negatively and permanently affect your marriage. Prevention is better than cure.
4. Talk Out Problems
The couple, Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski, both PhD holders in marriage counselling, said that “people fall into the trap of thinking that just because they are biologically attracted to each other at the beginning of a courtship, problems that come up in marriage will iron themselves out.” It is no wonder that most couples choose to remain silent about their problems, rather than discuss them.
However, like the book ‘The New Intimacy‘ encourages, couples should cultivate the habit of talking out problems and discussing each other’s responsibilities. After all, when issues are left out undiscussed, they build up and eventually ‘erupt’. And, when these problems ‘erupt’, it is usually too late, and the marriage will have already failed.
Yet, most people hold back from discussing their marriage problems with the fear that the conversation will only worsen matters. If you and your partner tend to drift further apart when talking out problems, you need first to keep two things in mind:
- Men tend to think in terms of solutions.
- Women prefer talking out problems before hearing the solutions.
Understanding the two above mentioned aspects can help to prevent your conversations from escalating, each time you talk out problems. Also, try to be empathetic and be what your spouse wants you to be when discussing issues. For instance, as a wife, don’t expect your husband always to know what you need. Learn to speak it out in a kind manner. Then, as a husband, could you try to be more of a person that listens to understand, and less of a person that listens to give solutions? When you both do that, you will have mastered the art of conversation, which is a significant key to a long-lasting marriage.
Several couples who have lived together for long were interviewed on what the secret of their marriage happiness was. They all mentioned one thing in common: communication. Contrary to what most people think, communication in marriage involves more than just discussing problems. It means making your spouse your best friend. How can you do that?
Well, for one, remember that your loved one is not a genius who can read minds. Therefore, you need to say your feelings out loud. Did something make you happy at work today? What exciting things happened to you? Only discussing with your spouse how your day was can do a lot to make yours a healthy, long-lasting marriage.
So, don’t just wait until when problems come up, to have a meaningful conversation with your sweetheart. Communicate daily with your spouse, about both the happy and sad parts of your day. When you do so, you will be making your darling, not just a best friend, but a best friend forever!
6. Make Time for Each Other
The most valuable gift that you can give to your marriage mate is your time. In his book, ‘The 5 Love Languages’ Author Gary Chapman mentions that the quality time spent by couples builds reserves of good memories, which in turn make the marriages more stable and satisfying.
Primarily due to the busy schedules and work routines that each person goes through, making time for each other can mean a lot to both of you. And, to make time for your spouse, you first need to prioritize them. Prioritize your life partner over everything, even over your kids. After all, your kids won’t enjoy life if you and your spouse don’t first make your home a happy one.
For instance, you can consider having regular dates with your spouse. Recreate your very first date. Tell your husband or wife what you loved most about them when you saw them for the very first time. Or make time each week to go for walks, just you and your spouse, and even eat out at a restaurant.
Also, when you make time for each other, could you make the most out of it? This moment is not the time to start arguing about how your wife never does the dishes in time, or how your husband always leaves the toilet seat down. Try always to keep your conversations lively and use this time to appreciate your mate. Only then will this time spent with your spouse remain in the reserves of good memories, a plus in your marriage life.
7. Take Advantage of the ‘Magic’ of Physical Touch
Physical touch is a crucial aspect of every relationship. However, this does not imply that you become intimate with your spouse every single day. Even simple physical contact, such as a loving handhold, or a touch on your partner’s shoulder is just as effective and ‘magical.’
Therefore, make these physical touches regular, even daily. Look for opportunities to give your spouse an unexpected touch. These simple touches do more than tell your spouse that you love them; they assure them of your love and make them feel safe with you.
And especially do wives need such loving non-verbal re-assurances from their husbands. So, as a loving husband, make it your habit to give your wife gentle kisses and hold her hand. Even a simple thing as a warm smile can do a lot to assure your spouse that you love them. So, if the regularity of such simple physical contact has reduced in your marriage life, it is the high time both of you revived this simple, yet ‘magical’ act.
8. Maintain Confidentiality
No marriage is perfect; all marriages have problems, even the seemingly happy ones. One thing that significantly determines if a marriage will succeed or fail is the spouses’ ability to keep their issues private. If you are looking to make your marriage work forever, then you need to learn how to keep matters personal and confidential. Confidentiality can especially prove challenging to the wives, who tend to confide private marriage matters with their closest friends.
While confiding these matters to other people can bring you some comfort, this is usually just temporary and short-lived. More so, not being confidential does more harm than benefit to your marriage. For instance, when your spouse realizes that you told others matters that were to be kept private, it could result in their losing trust in you. A lack of trust in the spouse is a leading cause of divorce these days.
Therefore, learn to uphold confidentiality in your marriage. Know what things you can share with others, and what things you should keep between the two of you. For example, your sex life is private. How your spouse feels about your friends is also private. When you maintain confidentiality in your married life, it is like a significant step towards a long-lasting marriage.
Marriage is like a journey to an unknown place; you will come across unpredictable terrains which may appear impassable. Yet, when you put in enough effort, you can still make your journey fun and successful. In the same way, the number of sad and happy times that you have do not determine the success of your marriage. Instead, success in marriage is determined by how you deal with the differences and challenges that you encounter in your married life.
So, lower your expectations in marriage. Appreciate your spouse. Prefer communicating and talking out problems, rather than taking the coward’s way out, that is, revenging. Also, buy out time from your busy schedule and spend it with your spouse. Make physical touch part of your daily life, and always maintain confidentiality. If you follow the eight tips recommended above, you will make your marriage a happy home where two are one!
Do you and your spouse have any other suggestions that have worked out for you?