Marriage work, if you have the right combination of effort, understanding, and compromise but if it’s that easy then why do so many marriages fail? While a husband or wife may feel as though they are putting in a lot of effort into the relationship, their spouse may still be unhappy. This may be because they are putting the effort in the wrong place.
In a relationship, it isn’t just about the basic sensibilities at play but the need for synchronization of feelings and values. Marriage workbooks by experts show that there are seven main principals that can help make your marriage work. Following these will lead to a mutual understanding of each other’s needs.
1. Maintain a Love Map
John M. Gottman and Nan Silver, in their book, highlight the importance of a love map. In the book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, they have suggested that a love map shows how you look at ideal sexual situations. This can play a very significant role to strengthen your marriage and relationships. Love maps are based on research on how the brain stores information about a significant other’s life.
For example, a couple has a lot of cognitive space allotted to their relationship, meaning that they have a lot of information about the other person in their heads. In such a case, each of them will remember the major events of the other person’s life. They will keep updating the information to each other as the feelings and events of the spouse’s world change. This will help in making the marriage work well.
Experts who conduct Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education Training suggest that knowing your partner is really vital to making the marriage work. You should know each other’s goals in life since it is an essential part of a marriage. It will strengthen your relationship and you will continue to remain in love.
Therefore, it is important to keep on maintaining and building love maps. To build the love map, develop an interest in your spouse’s favorite friends, the hobbies they like, their most important dream, and any other detail you deem important. Asking your spouse such questions will secure the bond you have.
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2. Foster Fondness and Admiration
Respect your spouse and they will definitely reciprocate. Relationship: Notes on Love, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, and Divorce by A. William Benitez suggests, “Relationships are not always easy but they can be happy, peaceful, and harmonious with a little effort.” Basic factors like admiration and love for your spouse can have a really positive impact on your marriage. It can make the relationship strong, satisfying, and comforting. This can ensure that the marriage works in the long-run.
If you miss these elements in your relationship, you’ll find tough times. The marriage won’t be saved if you don’t put at least this bare minimum effort. Try to compliment your partner with sentences that start with ‘I appreciate…’ Do make a list of three or four positive characteristics about them and share these compliments with them. Try to refer to their positive traits whenever possible and openly tell them that they mean a lot to you.
3. Turn towards Each Other If You Want Your Marriage Work
Maybe you are already aware that romance is necessary to increase the physical attraction between spouses. It is important to note that romance does mean only mean spending on an expensive meal or presenting souvenirs. Instead, love thrives if you increase romance in everyday life. Mahzad Hojjat, a counselor at Relationship Matters, suggests, “Like everything else, love needs nourishment. You can’t expect to grow beautiful flowers without water. How can you expect to keep your love relationship healthy and strong, if you don’t take care of it?”
You can keep the real-life romance alive by letting your spouse feel that you value them. For example, you can send a voicemail with words of love and support if you know they are having a bad day. This can show them that you are thinking and worrying about them. It also reminds them that their spouse is there in difficult times as well. Such support can be really wonderful and show more love than any expensive meal can. Smaller gestures like this can strengthen the connection that you have.
4. Accept Influence
Another way to make your marriage work is to make sure you and partner are influenced by one another. At times, this can seem really difficult but everyone needs to realize that their partners are equal shareholders in their lives. It is important to use whatever we have at our disposal to help them out when they need help. This will ensure that they also respond with equal positive enthusiasm when you need help.
Ashleigh Slater stresses the fact that happy couples are a team by suggesting, “When a couple promises “I do,” they agree to more than just a shared last name, a joint bank account, and no more dateless nights. This husband and wife duo forms a new team.” When you let your partner influence you, it isn’t about having one person having the power to control the relationship. It is about how you both can flourish and grow with each other’s help.
5. Solve Solvable Conflicts
In The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines the importance of solving smaller conflicts. This can lead to confidence in solving bigger problems. It can also lead to faith in both partners that they can work together and compromise. Solving smaller problems will also decrease the number of distractions when tackling bigger problems.
- Concentrate on how you start the conversation. Make sure that you start softly so that the conversation can continue without contempt or the other person getting defensive.
- Both the partners should attempt repair work. This means that they need to utter an action or statement that can reduce the tension between you two and works towards solving the problem.
- It is important that both you and your partner remain calm. This means that you can’t get worked up during a conversation. If you feel overwhelmed or distraught then you should try to relax and breathe. Take a 20-minute break if you need.
- You should make some sort of compromise. When a conflict occurs, you should take the other’s feelings into account. This means, focus on a common cause or a goal that is driving you both. Negotiations need to be held keeping in mind that the problem should be solved, not that any one person should ‘win’.
- Being tolerant of each other’s feelings and opinions is necessary. Every human being has some weak points and those should be considered with empathy instead of being used as attacks. It is possible to correct or criticize someone without being harsh or personal. Rule out negativity from your tone and message. Try to frame the message in a more positive way.
6. Cope With Conflicts
Talking too much about the problem non-stop can actually be more toxic than you may realize. In her book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, Patricia Love suggests that talking too much can actually remove romance from the relationship. To make the marriage work, you need to take a break from trying to resolve the conflict.
Coping with conflict is a better option in some cases. The goal is to remove the hurt you feel from the situation through acceptance and compromise. Making a marriage work hinges on how well you both are able to adapt to each other’s feelings and opinions.
7. Create Shared Meaning
To make a marriage work, you shouldn’t just focus on bringing up children or conjugal relations. There also needs to be a spiritual element that attaches you both to the core of life. This means that you should partake in some rituals, customs, and traditions surrounding your family. Coming together on festivals and holidays can be really fun for everyone and bring everyone closer.
This also gives you insight into the other person and their childhood. Coming together and forming new traditions together can also be a really great experience. For example, you spent Christmas Eve making cookies with your mother and your partner spent their day decorating gingerbread houses. Maybe your Christmas Eve tradition could combine both these rituals so that you have more shared memories with each other. Such things can really make you both come together as a family instead of just a couple.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that both of you are in this together. The only way that a marriage can work is if both partners help and respect each other. Regardless of whether you have tied the knot a month ago or 20 years ago, these principals should guide your marriage. This will help you both overcome any obstacles in your path and ensure that your marriage works.