Whether you’ve been married for years (or decades) or are a newly wed, every marriage has its share of ups and downs. Sharing your life with another person can be a challenge and being married for over 15 years myself, I can tell you wholeheartedly that a successful marriage takes work, communication, commitment, love and also respect to be truly happy, healthy and long-lasting.
A marriage based on respect and love doesn’t just happen. Both spouses have to do their part. I am sharing my honest thoughts below on significant keys to work on each day to make your marriage happy, functional and fulfilling.
Talking with your spouse is one of the best ways to keep your marriage healthy and successful. Have patience for each other, be honest about what you’re feeling, but be kind and respectful when you communicate. Part of good communication is being a good listener (bear in mind that listening is not the same as hearing) and taking the time to understand what it is your spouse wants and needs from you. Keep the lines of communication open by talking often, and not just about things like bills and the kids. Share your thoughts and feelings.
Respect and Trust
Without mutual respect and trust, marriages can be quite toxic and stressful. You won’t agree on everything, however it is important to be fair and respectful during disagreements. Try not to get angry and don’t let yourself become too frustrated. Walk away and calm down if you need to, then discuss the problem again when you’re both in a better frame of mind. Understand your spouse’s perspective, compromise and work around that. Taking responsibility for your actions without hostility, harsh criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness allows you to respond to each other quickly and makeup after fights to repair the relationship.
Be thankful for your spouse and tell them you appreciate having them in your life
Appreciate each other, your relationship, your family and your lives together. Show gratitude when your partner makes a romantic candlelight dinner (with Luther Vandross songs playing in the background), helps the kids with their homework, does the grocery shopping, etc. It may help to take a few minutes each evening to tell each other at least one thing you appreciated they did that day.
Set boundaries (personal and as a couple)
All healthy and successful marriages need boundaries. With work and family responsibilities, it can be easy to lose the romance in your relationship. Have fun together as a couple, plan special dates, either to go out or just stay at home. If you have children, send them on a play date while you relax, talk and enjoy each other’s company.
Alternatively, alone time is just as necessary as couple time. Everyone needs time to recharge, think, and enjoy personal interests. That time is often lost when you’re married, especially if you have kids. Go out with friends, take a class, do volunteer work or whatever you find enriching. Not only does absence makes the heart grow fonder, when you’re back together with your spouse, you’ll appreciate each other even more.
Everyone makes mistakes. Your spouse may hurt your feelings or do something that upsets you and that may make you angry and furious. Nonetheless, it’s important to deal with your feelings, take a deep breath, let them go and move on, don’t keep bringing up the past.
Remember to remain committed to your spouse, your family and the life that you have built together. Support each other emotionally and in everyday ways. You, your spouse and your relationship may grow and change with time, but I can guarantee you that these ideas can help your marriage stay successful over the years.