Today,s guest post comes from John and Wendy of Marriage Rescue Associates.
If there’s one thing that most brides and grooms have in common on their wedding day, it’s that they’re filled with hope. Nobody willingly goes down the aisle thinking the relationship won’t last, and yet statistics show how common broken marriages can be. So what’s the secret to having a marriage that stands the test of time instead of a marriage that crumbles? What are some steps you can take now to move you and your spouse toward a long-lasting, happy life together? To help answer these questions — and to give your marriage better staying power — consider the four tips below for creating the kind of relationship that lasts.
- Fight Fair:
When it comes down to it, the way you and your spouse communicate is one of the most telling aspects of your marriage — especially when it comes to conflict. “You have to be able to fight just as effectively as you talk about the weather,” according to a commenter quoted on The Huffington Post. “Everyone will have a fight in their relationship at some point. Even if you have to take space and come back to the issue to discuss it rationally, you’re still communicating and fighting well.” Most people will tend to either run from conflict or attack it head-on, turning either passive or aggressive in a fight. To honor your spouse as well as push toward resolution, it’s best to remain calm and keep talking until understanding has been reached.
- Forgive Fast:
All people make mistakes, and that’s as true of you and your spouse as it is of any other person on the planet. That’s why, like it or not, no marriage can thrive without forgiveness, and the faster the forgiveness, the better. “Don’t wait a week or a month,” says blogger Lisa at Deep and Wonderful Thoughts. Stewing gives time for resentment and anger to build, while letting go of misunderstandings and frustrations frees you up to love. Make up your mind now to forgive your spouse when he or she does something legitimately wrong, and you take a powerful step of faith for your marriage.
- Be Friends First:
Your spouse is your lover, your partner and possibly your fellow parent. But don’t forget that your spouse also needs to be your friend. Spending time with one another in some shared hobby or interest is a great way to build bonds that will last beyond the years of youthful romance. Have fun together. Go on dates. If you want to still enjoy each other when you’re old and gray, you have to start building the foundation now.
- Give Love to Feel Love:
“Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate,” says Mitch Temple at Focus on the Family. That’s why it’s good to realize “love is a verb, not just a feeling.” Rather than riding the waves of different emotions and good days or bad days, determine to love your spouse with words and actions every day, no matter how you feel. Not only is this a more accurate understanding of real love, but it also will often build increased and/or deeper feelings of love as you’re caring for, speaking kindly to and serving your spouse day after day.
For couples who want to live happily ever after, it’s important to realize that marriage takes work — it’s a good work, but it is still work. Thriving relationships don’t happen by accident. So whether you’ve been married a few days or a few decades, think about the tips above for creating a vibrant, thriving, long-lasting relationship you can enjoy for years to come.
John and Wendy who both have Masters degrees in Clinical Counseling run a crisis marriage counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, that specializes in solution-oriented therapy, helping couples preserve their long lasting relationships. They offer everything from counseling to marriage retreats, which attributes to their 90% success rate.