Falling in love and getting married is relatively easy compared to staying in love and living in a happy marriage. While there is no denying the ups and downs of life, careers, and raising a families that most married couples encounter, working hard to maintain their state of being “in love” and bonded to one another is equally important. Often, we allow the stresses of life to pull us apart or simply distance us into a state of platonic friendship with our spouse. However, consciously working on the types of behaviors that actually pull partners together will pay huge dividends over the long term.
In fact, many of the best aspects of marriage come from the years you spend working on the “little things” and cultivating small habits that bring you closer to the one you love. While this list is by no means exhaustive, in my experience, successful married couples all engage in the following three behaviors in some form or another.
They Laugh Together
Laughter is a universal language that is absolutely necessary for a healthy and prosperous life. Bad things happen to everyone, it is our ability to put these bad things into perspective, to find the optimism and humor in them, which allows us to move on from them.
However, when it comes to relationships this is even more critical. As a pair, you and your spouse will weather the worst that life as to offer. You will also experience the best of it. Learn to laugh during both of these periods and draw upon them both when you need it, and when you don’t. The experiences and the humor you share, especially if it is just between the two of you, reinforces your bond in the best way possible. [Related: 3 Changes You Can Make Today to Help Improve Your Troubled Marriage]
They Fight “Fair”
I love it when couples tell me they “don’t fight”. From this statement I know one of two things: they are lying to themselves or they are lying to me. You simply cannot share your life with another person and not occasionally knock heads. No matter how much you love one another, you come from different places, have different experiences, and develop different expectations.
It is not if you fight that matters. It is how. Successful couples fight “fair”. This means that forgiveness, trust, and the benefit of the doubt are default emotions. They do not harbor grudges and pay attention to both what they say and how they say it. The simple phrase “I’m sorry” goes a long way and neither partner is afraid to use it. Successful couples also focus as much on “we” as on “I” in the midst of an argument, seeing the issue from more than just their perspective.[Related: How to Argue Less With Your Spouse & Prevent Escalation]
Do you listen to your partner? I mean truly listen, or just wait until it is your turn to talk?
Successful marriages are based on not only being there as the other vents or explains something, but processing it. It means making eye contact and acknowledging what your partner is saying and why.
Successful couples use techniques such as mirroring (repeating concerns in a new way to make sure you understand them) and validation to help display empathy towards one another. In fact, empathy for the other person in a relationship is one of the biggest indicators of long term success. [Related: Too many arguments? How to stop toxic conflicts from happening]
Embracing These Techniques
Remember, marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be easy sailing and walls that you both hit at different times. However, proper “training”, as in cultivating healthy habits such as these, is the best way to ensure that you both make it to the finish line, intact, and together.
Work with me to help you get your marriage back on its track and practice some of the proven techniques to help couples in their marriage.