If you’ve just gotten married, have been married for a while or are thinking of tying the knot, you’ve likely considered the ways that you can have a happy and lasting union. However, not all marriages come with a lifetime guarantee, especially if you don’t do some work to keep your relationship healthy.
Finding a long-term partner can be daunting, and we often have unrealistic expectations due to the romantic TV shows and movies that we’re exposed to on a regular basis.
One of the harsh truths we all need to realize when it comes to relationships is that not everyone can be perfect at all times. We all have weaknesses and character flaws. It’s inevitable that we will disappoint our partners (and vice versa) at some point in the relationship. What’s important is that you and your spouse love each other enough to continue doing what is necessary to keep your relationship going. Still, how do you know that you’ll be happy with your mate for the rest of your life?
Dr. John Gottman, the author of The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, says that creating a marriage that will stand the test of time is actually quite simple. Gottman shares that couples who are happily married aren’t richer or smarter than others. He says that these couples decided not to let their negative feelings about each other override their positive sentiments for each other. Dr. Gottman says that this is what separates couples who are truly happy from couples who simply stay together for the sake of their children.
So, how can you make sure that your marriage is happy and healthy? Here are six suggestions that you can start implementing today.
1. Show Gratitude Effectively
Is it easy for you to say “thank you” to your spouse? Does your husband or wife do little things to show you care or make your day easier? Expressing gratitude to each other as often as possible can be very positive and fulfilling.
In the journal Personal Relationships, a recent study revealed that showing gratitude is one of the secrets to a happy marriage. The University of Georgia conducted a phone survey with 468 married couples. The survey covered finances, communication and ways to express gratitude. The results indicated that gratitude expression directly affects the quality of a marriage. Couples who expressed gratitude were more likely to be affected by stressors in marriage like finances, in-law issues and miscommunication.
2. Admit Your Mistakes and Learn to Compromise
There are sure to be misunderstandings from time to time in any relationship. Even if you love your spouse dearly, you’re not going to agree on everything. A couple who knows how to agree to disagree and make compromise is more likely to have a lasting and happy marriage. Couples also have to admit their mistakes to each other. This is a sign of love, not weakness.
Bill Farr, the author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships, says that couples who learn how to overcome their pride and compromise set themselves up for a happy relationship. When both partners see that their way is not always right and accept their own mistakes and mistakes of their partner, the marriage is sure to flourish. Yes, passion and romance can make the relationship especially exciting, but mutual respect is what will ultimately keep a marriage together.
3. Use The Right Tone of Voice
When it comes to having a happy marriage, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. The tone of voice with which you convey your thoughts and opinions is just as important as the words you say. According to experts, the way you talk to your spouse directly reflects the health and condition of your relationship. There’s even a new computer algorithm that can predict the health of a marriage based on the tone of voice that couples use to speak to each other! The algorithm is 79% accurate and assesses a couple’s speech by breaking down the recordings into acoustics and using techniques to process speech, such as pitch intensity and voice variables that indicate one’s emotions when speaking.
4. Spend Your Leisure Time Wisely
Couples who spend free time with each other tend to have the best relationships. If you are happiest when you’re with your spouse, this is a sign that your marriage will likely last.
In a study that involved 250 married couples, results indicated that the best way to measure marital happiness was the amount of time people spent alone with their spouses. Wives who spent most of their free time with their husbands were the happiest. Happier couples also made more of an effort to spend time together, even if they had differing interests and hobbies, or had scheduling challenges due to work or raising children. Sometimes, the quality of the time you spend together is most important, not just the amount of time.
5. Give Your Attention the Right Way
If you call your spouse and they respond right away, that’s usually a good sign. If you have to call him/her several times and your mate seems uninterested in what you have to say, you may be heading for trouble. This is a sign that your partner doesn’t value or think that what you have to say is important.
Tony Robbins states that “relationships magnify the experience of life.” If we don’t value our marriage, we could lose out on essential life experiences that could make us happier and more fulfilled. Couples who are truly connected don’t have to beg for each other’s attention.
6. Be Accepting
In the beginning stages of your relationship, you are likely to see your partners as nearly perfect. That’s because you’re love-struck and, honestly, lust has taken over your logic. However, as time progresses, you’ll start to see your mate’s not-so-great qualities as well. Passion will diminish over time, and you’ll find that your partner doesn’t meet all of your expectations.
Having a perfect marriage isn’t about being married to a perfect mate. The key is accepting your spouse’s weaknesses and looking beyond them to see their strengths. When you’re in a happy marriage, you expect nothing from love from your partner, and your mate expects the same from you. When you accept yourself, it will be much easier for you to accept your spouse, and giving and receiving love becomes almost effortless.
Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage. Marriage.com provides resources, information and a community that supports healthy, happy marriages. Malini has global experience in international management and communications, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.