Six Steps to a Happy Marriage
The Six Steps to a Happy Marriage
In this article we will look at six steps that will lead to a happy marriage and play a crucial role in developing a better understanding of each other as a married couple. By becoming aware of these following factors you will be well on the way to a happier, more fulfilling marriage.
Affection is any act, behaviour or touch that makes another person feel valued, loved and appreciated. An affectionate touch is non-sexual, but not all non-sexual touches are affectionate. Holding hands, hugging and a kiss on the cheek are all examples of affectionate behaviour.
Affection is important for the long-term happiness of a relationship. For most couples, passion fades after a few years, but affectionate behaviour shows your partner that you care for, and feel connected to, her or him.
The level of affection a couple displays towards one another is linked to what is called ‘positive sentiment overide’ – simply put, this means that a couple needs enough happy times and loving behaviour to cope with the difficulties that life throws at them. Affectionate behaviour builds up your store of positive sentiment.
Affection is associated with emotional health because it makes us feel valued and loved. The message is simple – affection is good for you.
2. Body Image
Do you like your body? If the answer is no, you are in good company. Very few women, and increasingly men, are satisfied with the way their bodies look.
Most people know that what is perceived as the perfect body changes with the prevailing fashion of the day. The voluptuous curves of Marilyn Monroe were considered ideal in the 1950's, but the waif-like figure of Twiggy was popular in the 1960's; in the 1990's the so-called supermodels were mostly tall and athletically built, but fashion goes in cycles and it swung back to very slender figures.
Every day we are confronted with images of perfect people on television, in magazines, on billboards, on public transport and even in toilet cubicles. We may know that models and actors are not representative of society as a whole, and that these images have been airbrushed to remove even the tiniest imperfections, this constant bombardment is difficult for some of people to ignore.
We all know that it is important to eat healthily and take regular exercise – even if we don’t do it – but at the time of writing, Amazon UK listed over 52,000 diet books and more than 7,000 exercise DVDs, some of which promise miraculous results in a remarkably short period of time. It is unfair, but society rewards those who fit into the prevailing aesthetic culture.
Not having a body that fits into the current aesthetic can affect our self-confidence and make us feel unattractive. In extreme cases, we may even feel worthless, hopeless and undeserving of our partner’s love and attention.
Feelings of body dissatisfaction may make us feel wary of being sexually intimate with our partners. Men may feel unable to satisfy their partners; and it is not uncommon for women to demand that the room is dark when they are having sex or to insist on wearing at least some clothes in bed.
Ask anyone what makes a successful relationship, and the necessity of compromise is bound to come up. Most people – including psychologists, marriage counsellors and relationship experts – believe that willingness to compromise is essential for a happy relationship.
We find it hard to compromise when we are asked to give up our ideals, dreams or something we believe is central to our sense of self. If we agree to compromise our ideals simply to resolve an argument, our feelings are unlikely to change, and again, we may feel we have compromised too much of ourselves for the relationship. This is not a successful strategy for long-term happiness.
How to Compromise
There are instances when you should compromise and times when you should not. It is never a good idea to compromise your values and principles – doing so may lead to far greater problems in the long run. Instead, you should accept that you and your partner are individuals who see the world differently and that neither one of you has all the answers.
Always look at the situation from your partner’s perspective before deciding whether or not you need to compromise. For some ‘hot-button’ issues, such as money and sex, you both may have to compromise. For example, if one person wants sex to be romantic and the other prefers something a little more daring, you may find that agreeing to do what your partner wants means that he or she will be more willing to please you as well.
It is necessary to find a workable compromise when it comes to child rearing and discipline. Children, even young children, learn very quickly that their parents disagree, and are well able to pit parents against each other and exploit this to their own advantage.
Couples who are happy and have strong relationships still have terrible fights now and again and are not always able to find a neat compromise to solve the problem.
4. Diet and Libido
Here is something to bear in mind when doing your weekly shop: the food you eat greatly affects your energy levels and your diet can dampen your libido or increase your sexual staying power.
If you put junk in, you get junk out, and following a sensible, healthy diet is an easy way to increase sexual desire and fitness. Here’s how: Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans and vegetables, give you energy. Wheat germ and whole grains high in vitamin E are essential for sperm and sex hormone production.
Protein is found in meat, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans. A lack of protein in your diet can cause your libido to flag.
Vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, C and folic acid are important for a healthy sex drive. These can be found in whole grains, eggs, fish, vegetables and fruit.
It is important to drink enough water; a well-hydrated body is more energetic and has better sexual endurance.
Eating for Sex
Sharing a meal is probably the most popular form of seduction, but a heavy meal can leave you feeling more sluggish than sexy. A romantic meal should be fairly light – a good choice is grilled lean chicken or fish and a salad.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence can be broadly defined as the ability to recognise and regulate emotions in others and ourselves. An emotionally intelligent person finds it easy to grasp the emotional climate of a situation and act accordingly.
In relationships, an emotional intelligent person will recognise what his or her partner is feeling and know whether sympathy, space, taking charge or making changes is the best way to act.
In a relationship it is important to learn to recognise each other’s emotional buttons. These could be family relationships, sex, money or work.
We are not all naturally emotionally intelligent, but with time and patience we can learn to recognise what are our and our partner’s ‘hot-button’ issues and how these emotions cause us to behave.
6. Knowing Your Goals Of Marriage
Why do people get married? Between 2008 and 2009 over two thousand couples were surveyed and asked to name five reasons why they were planning to marry. Most could come up with only a few answers. The majority responded that they wanted to show commitment; that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together; or that they wished to start a family. However, a worrying number of couples responded that family pressure had played a role; that they felt marriage was expected by society; or that because they had been together for so long, marriage was simply the next logical step.
What are the benefits or goals of marriage?
Family and relationship therapists believe that marriage has three major goals: the creation of a family; happiness; and the personal growth of the individuals involved. The vast majority of couples marry with the intention of having children, so starting a family is the most obvious goal. However, there is a great difference between having children and the creation of a loving family, which is much harder to achieve. It demands time, skill and lots and lots of patience.
Oddly enough, at the beginning of a relationship couples tend to share snippets of personal information, but the better we know one another, the more likely we are to let daily concerns, such as work or children, dominate our conversations. Most of us do not know our partners as well as we think. The point of this article is to make you consider the many unknown factors that influence who you are and how this affects how you relate to each other. Once you become aware of these issues and can honestly face them and work through them you will be well on your way to a happier marriage.