- Gender and Relationships
How to Ensure a Successful Marriage
Couple Holding Hands
The great thing about relationships is there are many different ways to have them and still be able to consider them successful. I won’t go as far as to say that there are no wrong ways to have a relationship, because inappropriate things like domestic violence ruin that opinion completely, but I believe many of us strive to have positive relationships.
What I’m referring to is that every couple has their own way of bonding with their significant other. Some partnerships make a point to never go a day without saying I love you or thanking their partner for doing the smallest tasks throughout the day. I also know a few couples that are a little bit rougher with each other, verbally, than I am personally comfortable with but it works for them so who am I to complain?
The ultimate test for any relationship is marriage and given the divorce rate many couples aren’t able to have successful marriages. I can say from personal experience that marriage isn’t always easy, even though the concept is a good one. You love someone and you want to spend your life with them so the logical thing to do is get married. Sounds simple enough but that is just the beginning.
A marriage is a pact containing partnership and compromise, amongst other things, which can be challenging for some people. It takes hard work and attention to detail sometimes (like putting the toilet seat down gentlemen) but with some effort you can certainly ensure a successful marriage.
Simple Wedding Cakes
Tips for a Happy Marriage
My wife and I got married pretty young, she was nineteen and I was eighteen, so statistically the odds were already against us to have a long marriage. What has helped us was we always acted older than our ages told us we should act. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t always been easy. We have butted heads on more than one issue since our wedding day back in 1996 but that is just a part of married life. Disagreements are going to happen; the key is how you handle them.
I learned a long time ago to respect what my wife has to say and try to see her point of view. That doesn’t mean that I always agree with her but I can certainly respectfully disagree with her view and ensure that so she knows I appreciate her input. The goal is to listen to what your partner has to say and to value what they are contributing to the conversation.
Another small detail for me is to not let a disagreement get personal. I have never resorted to personal comments during a disagreement with my wife but we both know couples that do. It seems to be fine with them but I just can’t bring myself to allow these insults to find their way into an argument. I can’t even raise my voice to my wife which has aggravated her more than once during an argument, I swear that I’m not doing it on purpose to push her buttons but it is a consequence of my belief I guess.
The foundation of my relationship with my wife is that I treat her the way that I want to be treated. She has, on more than one occasion, asked me why I am so nice to her even when she is upset with me so I guess my footing is still strong. I’m a big do unto others guy so this is just how I live my life, being this way at home is just how I go about my day.
We all know people whose marriages have failed and it is a reminder that we do have to keep working at it to have a good marriage. I hope that people exhaust all reading options on how to better their marriages or even look into counseling even though some people wouldn’t see a professional.
It’s funny, we tell our kids that there is no such thing as a stupid question or we remind them that asking for help is OK; but some people don’t take their own advice to heart and reach out for help to keep their marriages from disintegrating.
If you are, or had been married in the past, did you ever go to counseling?
I remember the first time I heard of pre-marital counseling. I was working at my first job after school and one of my co-workers was dating a woman he eventually married. When they got engaged he told me that they were going to participate in the counseling. Apparently they run the couple through different question and answer segments to see if they are a good match for each other, now we have dating websites that advertise the same thing.
I know he felt great after going through the counseling and was very happy when he got married, we were there and the tears he had afterwards was all of the proof I needed to see to know how he felt.
Unfortunately this counseling doesn’t come with any guarantees for success because their marriage only made it a few years before they split up.
Don’t let my negative story detract you from pre-marital counseling if that is what you and your fiancé want to participate in because there are some real advantages to participating in the sessions; not to mention the lessons you learn and advice you can receive.
I think part of the reason my marriage has been as good as it has is because my parents had a good one that I could learn from. If I had any questions I could also use them for advice and it was a great benefit for me. They have been married since 1969 and are one of the longest married couples I know; unfortunately we don’t have many couples anymore breaking forty years together anymore.
My wife wasn’t as lucky because her parents split shortly after her youngest brother, her third sibling, was born. I still remember conversations we had early on in our relationship about how divorce was so common in her immediate family; she even made comments about when we got divorced. It wasn’t that she felt it wouldn’t work out, she just didn’t know what a successful marriage looked like.
When my parents celebrated forty years together we threw a surprise party for them, it was a joint venture by my wife, me, my younger brother and his wife. Long story short it went off beautifully and they were very surprised and appreciative. I share this story because the four of us said a few words and my wife became emotional during her speech when she thanked them for showing her what a marriage should really be.
Sometimes the best marriage advice you can get is from married couples.
All marriages have rocky patches, it is inevitable. It doesn’t mean that these rough patches are part of some pending doom to the relationship but it can be a sign that things aren’t as good as they should be.
The positive here is that problems are much easier to fix if they are known. How many times have you heard someone say that they didn’t see the signs that their significant other was unhappy or was planning on leaving the relationship? What would have happened if one partner voiced their problems with the other? Could they have reconciled?
Not all difficult marriages need the help of a professional counselor but some ultimately will. The hope here is that this third party individual, who really has no favorites, can help resolve any conflict(s) that might be driving the couple apart.
The biggest drawback to seeking professional counseling, besides the initial obstacle of asking for help, is the cost. These counseling sessions will usually be charged by the hour and can range from $100 an hour and up, it all depends on the going rate for these services in your community.
I’m not trying to detract from the seriousness of a troubled marriage when I say this but getting some counseling can be way cheaper than a divorce. Counseling won’t fix everything but it is certainly worth a try, if both participants are will to give it a shot.
Love and Marriage
For our marriage love has always been the rock that we have learned on, even in tough times. We always had some inexplicable connection, even when we first started dating, which has been a tremendous asset in our marriage.
Some people believe in love at first sight but ours was a little bit different of a connection with the sight part being just a piece of a more elaborate puzzle. We were young and we kept hearing all of these reminders about we were too young to fall in love but we just didn’t dwell on the talk too much. We knew what we had and what we could do together and we haven’t looked back yet.
By the way, the sight part was easy because my wife is still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
Without communication our society would be in trouble. Just imagine if your cell phone stopped working and you couldn’t get in touch with your family or best friends. Same dilemma when your power goes out and you are in the dark, literally, since you can’t do the things you want to do on the computer via social media.
My point is that communication is critical in a marriage and it only gets more important once children are introduced because, as they get older, they start having lives as well with their own schedules to juggle. Without communication it is very easy to wonder around like ants that have lost their trail.
Kids will also develop traits that might mirror their parents’ way of doing things so if the communication between Mom and Dad is good they should learn the values of it.
We have involved our kids in many discussions because we believe that they are more active if they have a vested role in the dialog. Hopefully our little family conversations about a weekend birthday party, chores in the yard and school grades help install the values of strong communication in their young lives and potentially in marriage, if that is where their life path takes them.