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Three Signs of A Successful Marriage
When two people in love decide to tie the knot, and take the marriage vows, they start a journey full of hope and expectation. It is however not uncommon to hear stories of separation and divorce. In fact the divorce statistics are a little alarming. Studies show that in the United States alone, there is one divorce every 13 seconds. In other words, 50% of all marriages in the US end in divorce, and the average length of marriages that end in divorce is eight years.
Even in countries like Uganda where divorce is still stigmatized due to cultural beliefs, the story is not any different. Some couples seem to be humming along in perfect harmony, until you suddenly hear the unexpected.
Despite sharing common interest and similar careers, couples still end in divorce courts. It is also true however, that some marriages have thrived against all odds and have made it to the golden jubilee anniversary. Very often the signs of trouble are there. We only choose to judge success in marriage by the wrong standards. Here are three signs one can use to tell if their marriage is headed for success.
You freely express your feelings
Most people who are in love fight. In the beginning, there is what seems to be a period of bliss, and there is little about your partner that bothers you enough for you to air it out. Or you might be trying hard to avoid conflict because you assume it could mean that something is awfully wrong with your relationship.
It is important to remember that fights in a relationship are often about those areas in your lives that aren't easy to understand about each other, and in many cases there may never be any straightforward answers.
This is perfectly normal and is not an indication that something is terribly wrong with your relationship. Being able to express yourself, even if it involves a heated argument can be a sign that your marriage is on the right track.
Fights provide a way for couples to reconnect. They often touch our weak spots and these are what we need to concentrate on in order to make success. Arguments provide an atmosphere for expression of one’s true feelings about our habits and various weaknesses. Coupled with positive criticism, they can be a means to help us understand our selves and how we relate with our partners.
They thus promote understanding of those unique details that make one relationship different from another. They also prevent accumulation of anger. When a fault is sighted in a relationship, it needs to be addressed promptly. Unfortunately this may mean engaging in a heated argument because each party is passionately trying to prove that they are right. On the other hand if such faults are allowed to accumulate, they will culminate into Anger out bursts that will in turn lead to regrettable irrational decision making.
A study by the University of Washington on newlywed couples found that couples who rarely fought or argued were happier in the relationship than those who fought often. Three years down the road however, the findings had reversed dramatically. Couples with an early history of bickering had worked their problems and were more likely to be in a stable marriage. Couples who had avoided conflict early on were more likely to be in troubled relationships already.
Note that this is far from violence or verbal abuse which are unacceptable, and are signs of disrespect. The important thing here is not who can win, because any one can win provided they are willing to win at the cost of love and respect. What then should the fight be about if not winning? A healthy fight is aimed at restoring the balance of power rather than destroy it. You are fighting to let the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with, know exactly how you feel about the situation. This kind of fight will end in surrender rather than loss and this must never be one sided. Fighting matters in marriage because what counts out of it is forgiveness. Avoid the temptation of the desire to win which is as present as any other marital temptation. You should always unite to fight external forces. Remember never to say what can’t be unsaid, never go to sleep angry and worse still, end a fight by having sex with someone other than your partner because infidelity is unacceptable.
You Still Spend Time With Your Friends
Despite being married, you're still two different people with many different interests in life. Therefore, your marriage should not feel like some sort of 'dungeon' that robes you of all your rights and freedoms as a human being.
Remember before you fell in love with your darling, you had a life, friends and family. Perhaps these are among the things that got him or her to fall head over heels for you.
A good marriage affords you the freedom to do those things you enjoy to do, because these are what define you and your happiness. These should of course be morally acceptable and shouldn't be the kind of activities that disgrace you or your partner and you marriage (remember marriage means growing up). Spending time with friends keeps you up to date with life outside your relationship. You will not be ‘left behind’ on trending fashion or entertainment news. This keeps your mind fresh and brings a general sense of happiness to your life. You will also get a well-deserved break from all the pressure that could be piling up in your relationship. Spending time away from each other refreshes the mind and allows you time to think of each other and miss each other’s company.
You don’t need to live in each other’s pockets or do everything together. Studies show that relationships in which one or both partners are overly possessive are more likely to encounter problems than those in which partners freely relate with friends and family. This calls for trust which by all means must be earned. There is no doubt that trust is important in any relationship, in fact a marriage without trust is doomed to fail. Trust, love, honesty and effective communication are the key to spending time away from each other successfully
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'We' and 'Us'
The use of such unifying pronouns is a characteristic of a successful marriage. This is often expressed in activities done together. According to Tara Packer-Pope, a wellness blogger for the New York Times, the way you talk about the good and bad times of your early years together is about 90% accurate in predicting success or failure in a marriage. In her article; “How to avoid common marriage traps” Tara sights an example of a couple that go hiking together on their first date. “In a happy marriage, the wife might tell the story this way; "we got terribly lost that day, but we laughed about how neither of us had a good sense of direction. After that we knew better than to plan another hiking trip.”
“But if the relationship is stressed,” she continues, “the wife might tell the story this way; He lost the map and it took hours to find our way back. After that I never wanted to go hiking again.” Same story but told from different mind sets. The latter depicts a sense of individualism. The wife feels that most of what happened was her husband’s fault. This is typical in marriages that are heading towards a sour end, as one partner possibly feels suffocated by the unfair distribution of power in the relationship. It should be understood that marriage is about balance of power. The best way to avoid domineering is by never letting activities done together, to be determined or controlled by one person.
These Subtle signs are present in many marriages. But because they often go unnoticed, many of these marriages end up in painful separations or divorce, leaving children in difficult positions of having to take sides between their parents. Most of the marriages that have thrived against all odds are those in which these signs are noticed and dealt with early.
© 2013 Ian Batanda