What does it take to make a happy marriage?
Is it staying forever in the euphoric state where you were when you first met? Pretty unrealistic, because none of us are perfect!
Not really, because that is a stage where you are at least 6 feet off the ground and cannot see any imperfections at all because you are pretty well blind at that point!
Most couples who call me for help often say we need help with communication. Yes, we probably can all use help in becoming much better listeners than we naturally are.
Do you recall a time in your life when you felt really heard and understood? What a special feeling! That is one of the great things that often occurs during that early stage of a new relationship.
At that point, it is refreshing and fun to spend time together just enjoying and learning about one another’s lives.
Now in the present have you noticed how often you have what I call “drive-by conversations” on the run as you are literally passing each other in your coming and going.
Much of the time couples tell me they are often left puzzled by the meaning of that hurried conversation but usually never get back to clarifying it later.
In a healthy caring relationship, we “should” be able to be “real” with each other. Unless you are a narcissist or a con artist, in those early days of your relationship, you probably are being open with one another.
Then as we move back into keeping up with those daily responsibilities of our lives (which we may have neglected as we were romancing) such as managing careers, keeping the boss happy, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, clothing upkeep, paying bills, household management and maintenance, auto maintenance, exercising, extended family events, social events, mealtimes, self-care, and, if children, at least another dozen or more responsibilities.
Following are tips to help strengthen your marriage. But first, check out my products related to marriage health.
Is it any wonder that it takes awhile for us to finally wake up to the fact that we are no longer spending priority time with our spouse or on our self-care. Also, we seldom take time just to have fun or date regularly or even do much budget or calendar planning as a team?
Perhaps, we also finally recognize that because our family histories around communication and the ways we approach problem-solving are very different, we are set up for major problems without realizing it.
Often, one partner is extremely conflict-avoidant. I call it “don’t rock the boat” or “peace at any price” If that is the case, the partner who is not like that may bring up a topic and is assuming the other is agreeing. Only much later, in some cases, years later, one or both of them learn that they were not “on the same page” at all due to that difference.
Are you both able to honestly and kindly share different points of view with one another? It is very healthy to be able to share very different points of view and to argue at times. When people share that they never argue, I believe one person is not sharing their own valid opinion or point of view.
If this is an area you’d like to improve in your life and marriage, learning and using these tools is not that difficult and will add hugely to your feeling of confidence and being both loved and understood!
Marriage Counselor & Author
In my personal life, I have had a long successful marriage and am currently remarrying following my husband’s death. I have three sons, helped finish raising a niece for 3 years, and have 7 grandchildren of my own. I love to spend time doing crafts and other fun activities with them. I also love performing music with my sisters in a benefit show, getting together with family and friends, ATVing in the mountains, photography, walking, traveling, love to read and creating beautiful art and decorating, and, of course, serving others by volunteering.