When you're caught up in the excitement of your engagement, wedding planning and festivities, it can be hard to imagine that you and your spouse might not live happily ever after. But, sharing your life with another person can be a challenge, no matter how well matched you and your partner may be. With online therapy, you can address any issues in your marriage before you identify how to know when your marriage is over.
Marriage is meant to last a lifetime, which can see seasons of joy, hardship, grief, and personal evolution. If your relationship is going to weather the storms to enjoy the patches of sun, you need to be equipped with tools to put in the work. A strong marriage based on love and respect doesn't just happen overnight. Both spouses have to do their part –– always.
Here are some of the best, most foundational ways you can make sure you set your marriage up for success.
Partners in a healthy marriage communicate as much as possible. They certainly discuss kids’ schedules, grocery lists, and utility bills. But, they don’t stop there. They also communicate hopes, dreams, fears, and anxieties. They don’t just discuss decisions that need to be made for the kids or house; they also discuss their observations and bond over shared interests. This essential key to a happy marriage cannot be overlooked because honest; forthright communication in marriage becomes the foundation for so many other things on this list: commitment, patience, and trust—just to name a few.
Truly open communication is one of the best ways to keep your marriage going strong for the long haul. Always be honest about what you're feeling, but be kind and respectful when you need to communicate critically. In order to keep the lines open for business, it’s important for you both to maintain a safe space for challenging emotions. Defensiveness and aggression will only push you further apart. Practice active listening, and make sure your partner feels heard. Remember, you are individuals with common interests and ideas. There’s plenty to talk about besides the daily grind and work.
Even if you appreciate each other, your relationship, your family, and your lives together, it’s easy to forget to show it. Practice gratitude when your partner cooks dinner, helps the kids with their homework, or does the grocery shopping. This can be expressed in small things such as verbally, written, or through acts of service. You can leave notes for each other, or designate a certain time of day, like dinner or bedtime, to take a few minutes to tell each other at least one thing you appreciate about the other person that day.
Relationships don’t work without an investment in time. Never have, never will. Any successful relationship requires intentional, quality time together. The relationship with your partner is going to require more time than any other in your life because of the level of intimacy involved. If possible, set aside ample time each day for your spouse. A date night is ideal, but even ten minutes of undivided attention a day can help keep the connection strong.
With work and family responsibilities, it can be easy to lose the romance factor. Even when it feels totally impossible to schedule, plan special dates once in a while, either to go out or just stay at home._Even making time to watch a television show together can be valuable. If you have children, send them on a playdate or a sleepover at their grandparents’ while you relax, talk, and enjoy each other's company. It’s important to have even the smallest moments to reconnect and remember why you choose each other every day.
Just as it’s important to make space for the partnership, it’s equally important to set boundaries for yourselves as individuals. In order to be happy in a relationship, you must be happy first. That is, in fact, the key to a successful relationship. With that in mind, partners must continue to take out time for themselves, enjoy their personal hobbies, and in general, spend some time apart. Not only does absence make the heart grow fonder, but in the time we spend alone, we get to reunite with our spiritual side, re-establish our sense of self, and check-in with the progress of our personal preferences, goals, and achievements.
Alone time is just as important 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. Make plans with friends, take a class, or do volunteer work –– whatever will refill your cup. When you're back together with your spouse, you'll appreciate each other even more.
You probably know this by now, but you and your partner won't agree on everything. While this may be true, it’s still important to be fair and respectful during disagreements. Listen to your partner’s point of view. Try not to get angry or 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. Compromise on problems so that you both give a little. Having these conflicts will lead to resolutions that strengthen your relationship.
Fighting doesn’t mean your relationship is in peril. Being good together does not mean that couples agree on every little thing. Most happy couples have varying attitudes, opinions, and belief systems; and even hold opposing views on major areas in some cases. It’s completely natural and healthy for all couples to disagree. A loving, successful couple respects the point of view of one another and can occasionally have a sense of humor over their points of contention.
When you participate in a project at work, you probably take responsibility for your successes and your failures. The same should happen during conflicts in your marriage. When you and your partner have a disagreement or argument, remember to take responsibility for your actions, including anything you did or said, especially if it was hurtful, unthoughtful, or created adversity.
One of the reasons conflicts are ultimately so positive is that they can help you both continually grow in new ways by pushing each other’s perspectives. As long as you can maintain respect for your partner, it can lead to positive outcomes. When the fighting gets the best of you, remember that although it feels hard, you are doing the work, and will come out stronger as a couple.
Everyone makes mistakes. Your partner may hurt your feelings or do something that upsets you. But, it's important to deal with your feelings, let them go, and move on. Even when you've already put it behind you, bringing up the past can send mixed messages. Remember to remain committed to your partner, your family, and the life that you have built together. Support each other emotionally and in everyday ways. You, your partner, and your relationship may grow and change with time, but allowing forgiveness into your heart can help your marriage stay successful over the years.
Honesty and trust become the foundation for everything in a successful marriage. But unlike most of the other essentials on this list, trust takes time –– a lot of time. You can become selfless, committed, or patient in a moment, but trust always takes time. Trust is only built after weeks, months, and years of being who you say you are and doing what you say you’ll do. It takes time, so start now—and if you need to rebuild trust in your relationship, you’ll need to work even harder.
Know that every day you make it through another day together, you’re making an investment in your trust.
A major relationship issue in marriages long term can be the lack of acceptance in our partner.
No one partner is perfect in every way. Habits, traits, and behaviors don’t always line up. But, if you enter the marriage with the unrealistic expectation that they will change over time, you could be disappointed. It’s important to commit to accepting your partner as they are on your wedding day, as much as who they become ten years later.
Take time to appreciate the aspects of your partner that you love and celebrate. Ultimately, those were enough to outweigh areas that were less than desirable. Your partner is only human, as are you. It’s important to remember to accept your partner as much as you’d want to be accepted by them.
Unfortunately, so many of us are socialized to believe in fairytale endings, and we may carry some false perspectives on reality with us into adulthood. While marriage can be a beautiful thing, it is not effortless, nor will it ever be perfect. It takes so much work, both invisible and seen every day.
Have realistic expectations and do not fall victim to the fairy tale – you may find yourself sorely disappointed. This is not only one of the greatest factors of a successful marriage but plays a huge role in your happiness as an individual too.
A happy marriage is hard work, but if you and your partner are committed to showing up for each other every day, it’s possible. Though, nothing is easy, and some bumps in the road can become major collisions. If that is the case, seeking marriage counseling could be the right step to put your relationship back on track. You should also learn what to expect from marriage counseling so that you can prepare accordingly. Does couples therapy work? Advekit can help match you with a couples therapist whether you’re looking to address an issue or just improve communications. How much is couples therapy? Check out Advekit to learn why it is an important investment.