Everyone knows couples who seem to have a very successful marriage, and we all know others who really struggle with their marriage. So what’s the difference? Why do some marriages end in divorce court while others go on to celebrate a golden anniversary after 50 years?
Finding Advice on Marriage
A Huffington Post article titled Marriage Secrets Of Highly Successful Couples By Victor M. Parachin for YourTango.com gives great advice on marriage. Mr Parachin says that the secrets to a successful marriage are that “Highly successful couples … know that making the relationship a top priority is vital.” His article goes on to explain 10 secrets to a happy marriage
10 Tips for a Successful Marriage
1. Couples in a successful marriage enjoy each other. They like to be together, talk together, do things together and just spend time with each other. They share similar interests and enjoy doing activities with each other.
2. Successful couples fight skillfully. “In conflict, be fair and generous,” is wisdom from The Tao. Successful couples are bound to have disagreements, but they argue carefully. One technique is they tend to use plural pronouns (“we”, “us” and “ours”) rather than singular pronouns (“I”, “me” and “mine”). “Using ‘we language’ during a fight helps couples align themselves on the same team, as opposed to being adversaries,” notes lead author Benjamin Seider.
3. Successful couples seek and offer forgiveness. They may not forgive and forget, but they do forgive and let it go. When mistakes are made, apologies are given. When they are hurt, they accept the apology. Successful couples travel the “pathway toward forgiving,” which is outlined by author Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who cites these four stages for arrival at complete forgiveness:
– Forgo: Take a break from thinking about the person or event for a while.
– Forebear: Abstain from punishing, neither thinking about it nor acting on (the offense) in small or large ways. Give a bit of grace to the situation.
– Forget: Refuse to dwell; let go and loosen one’s hold, particularly on memory. To forget is an active — not passive — endeavor.
– Forgive: Make a conscious decision to cease to harbor resentment, which includes forgiving a debt and giving up one’s resolve to retaliate.
4. Successful couples are in it for the long haul. Successful couples make commitments – not just promises. For instance, one couple named Doris and Jim say, “We are happy together because we have lived out our vows — for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” When Doris was in a serious car accident Jim stuck by her throughout the ordeal. Her devotion to him increased because of his devotion to her.
5. Successful couples are positive about each other. They respect each other, empathize with each other and care deeply about what is going on in each other’s life. They also give more positive comments to each other than negative comments. Research by John Gottman, Ph.D gave this advice on marriage: that happy and stable couples “made five positive remarks for every one negative remark when they were discussing conflict. In contrast, couples headed for divorce offered less than one positive remark for every single negative remark.”
6. Successful couples learn and grow together. They go along with the other as new interests develop. For instance, if one partner becomes more health conscious, the other joins. If one partner takes up a new hobby, the other is supportive and involved. The end result is a stronger emotional bond and a deeper love.
7. Successful couples never stop dating. This is what was learned by Matthew Boggs and Jason Miller who traveled over 12,000 miles searching and interviewing people they called “marriage masters” To be a marriage master, they had to be married at least 40 years. On thing they discovered was that what makes a successful marriage is keeping the romance going, setting aside time for each other on a regular basis to date and occasionally get away on romantic holidays.
8. Successful couples bring each other joy. They know what brings their spouse joy and they try to provide opportunities for their spouse to do those activities.
9. Successful couples adhere to the 60/40 rule. Boggs and Miller also discovered that “marriage masters” have a high level of selflessness. One man whom they interviewed told them, “I’ll never forget what my mentor told my wife and me before we got married 42 years ago. He looked at us and said, ‘Most people think marriage is 50/50. It’s not. It’s 60/40. You give 60. You take 40. And that goes for both of you.”
10. Similar values are also key to a successful marriage. So if you’re a free spender, marry someone who understands and can support that. If you’re frugal, you need to marry someone who understands and supports that as well because money is one of biggest challenges in many marriages. Religious beliefs and disciplining children can also be places where couples values can differ. For a successful marriage, couples should have similar value systems.
Poet Robert Browning said it well when he wrote, “Success in marriage is more than finding the right person: It is being the right person.”