So you want to get married, but you don’t want to end up as a divorce statistic. Makes sense.
But what are the keys to a successful marriage? What determines if your marriage will be successful, or come to an end in the stale smelling office of your local attorney?
While there’s no exact formula for success, there are definitely things you can do to improve your odds.
What Do Successful Married Couples Do Differently?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many, many couples over the years. There are definitely clear keys to success, and certain types of people seem to do better at marriage in general than others.
Basically, successful married couples are in sync on key issues. These are very specific issues though – if you like Tim Horton’s and your spouse likes Starbucks you’ll probably be OK.
There are also certain qualities that are helpful, like easy goingness (is that a word?), open mindedness, and self-awareness. Since traits tend to take a long time to change, you’re better off focusing on things you can start doing right away.
3 Key Takeaways You Can Use Today
1) Never Stop Dating
The most common problem with marriage compared to dating is quality time.
When you’re dating, you can’t make enough time for your new romance. When you’re married, there’s a tendency to make time for you and yours when everything else is done. The problem, obviously, is there’s always more to do.
There’s a kind of false security that comes with marriage, isn’t there? You feel like you can slack because, well, you’re married. They’re not going anywhere.
You can’t use the commitment of marriage as an excuse to slack on your partner.
2) Get Your Priorities Straight
One of the biggest complaints from couples is they’re both trying hard and neither is happy. This happens when you’re doing stuff for your partner, but not the stuff that’s important to them.
A common example is the husband who works 80 hours a week and the wife who says he doesn’t care about her. The husband loses his shit, and screams “What!!! Do you know how fucking hard I work for this family!?” and on and on.
An interesting exercise: Write out the top three things most important to your partner’s relationship satisfaction, and have them do the same. Compare your answers.
When I explain the exercise, people smile and I can see them thinking “Too easy”. Immediately after, jaws drop and I get to enjoy a truly magical moment when they look at each other, and everything clicks into place. There’s so much carried in this look: Amazement, apology, curiousity, understanding, connection. Moments like this fuel my passion for reconnecting couples.
3) Know Your Role
Although you may feel like you’re always the same person, you have many roles that allow you to adapt to different situations.
A doctor, for example, is interacting with people in a different way than he would at home. He’s in a professional role. While in this role, certain traits like empathy are stronger, while others like judgement are minimized.
Your priorities change depending on what role you’re in. As a mother or father, caring for your children and ensuring stability and financial security are important. If you’re too busy being mom or dad, you can forget to be husband and wife.
Be aware of how you define yourself, and how that affects your marriage.