People always want to know what makes a successful marriage. Some assume that love and passion are the key while others rely on financial stability as the magic bullet.
The truth is that, while those things are important, they are not what will keep your marriage strong and healthy.
There is actually no grand secret or magic formula. However, there are some very clear commonalities among those marriages that have stood the test of time.
Below are 6 of the most valuable practices that contribute to a successful marriage.
1Successful and happy marriages aren’t always happy all the time
People often assume that if you find yourself unhappy at any point in your marriage, you have an unhappy marriage. This isn’t true.
Marriages are between two unique people who are changing and growing all the time. Sometimes, these changes or the circumstances of life create tough times in a relationship.
Many don’t realize that these ups and downs are normal and that it’s actually impossible to be perpetually happy with one another at all times. Successful couples recognize that marriage is a commitment. With time and effort, these difficult times or uneven growth periods will even out. It’s just a matter of not giving up.
2Successful couples know that respect never waivers
You may love your spouse but sometimes, you also may not like them very much. This is normal.
In healthy relationships, however, couples know that even in these frustrating moments, practicing respect for your partner never changes. Respect is the cornerstone of successful relationships. Without it, marriage won’t survive.
This means being honest, fair, and faithful to your spouse — no matter what the circumstance.
3Change is the biggest constant
We don’t exist in a vacuum. Life’s circumstances and people inevitably change over time.
Two people who get married full of passion and excitement can quickly turn into the family of four, pulled in different directions and exhausted at the end of each week. This means couples need to be ready to adapt and change to meet each other’s needs as the years go by and circumstances change.
This requires new efforts at communication and more work when it comes to keeping intimacy and a loving connection alive.
4They get help when they need it
Sometimes, marriages need help.
When life has gotten tough, overwhelming or has pushed you apart, it can be hard to know how to put things back together. Successful couples recognize this and seek help when it’s needed.
This can be the help of family and a support system or the help of a professional marriage counselor. Recently, Michelle Obama opened up about the need for marriage counseling in her own relationship.
Regarding counseling, she stated: “There are a lot of young people who look at me and Barack … and they think, ‘Oh, I want those relationship goals. But I want young people to know that marriage is work. Even the best marriages require work.”
5They get comfortable with “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong”
No matter how hard you try, neither person in a relationship is perfect or always right.
In a marriage, being able to be humble and apologize is an important attribute. Not only because, as individuals, we need to be able to do that but also because it validates your partner. It’s a way of showing that you love and respect them enough to recognize and acknowledge your error.
Communication is a deceptively difficult thing. It seems easy enough, you just have to talk and explain things, right?
Good communication in a marriage is more about listening and understanding your partner than making your own point. It may also require that you each tweak your own methods of expressing yourselves in order to be heard and understood by your spouse.
People, in general, communicate differently. In order for your relationship to really work, you will need to find a way to meet in the middle when it comes to communication. This can also be an area where a counselor may be of service.
Ultimately, the success or failure of a marriage depends upon the commitment and love between the two people involved. Without the strength of these two, success in a relationship isn’t really a possibility.
Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy and happy marriage needs more than just love and commitment. There will be work involved, plenty of it, in order to make things last.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better.