10 Simple Ways to Make a Marriage Last
The fundamental rules for human interaction—kindness, fairness and respect—are taught to us as young children. Unfortunately, many of these lessons are forgotten (or unlearned) by the time we reach adulthood.
Treating others the way we’d like to be treated seems simple enough … until we have to do it every day. But what makes the “Golden Rule” golden is its simple genius. Relationships aren’t rocket science, but they do call for the same level of patience and dedication. Since most of us haven’t visited a grade school in years, here’s a quick refresher on how to treat your spouse in a way that helps your marriage go the distance...
How to Make a Marriage Last a Lifetime
Be kind (not nice).
Most of the lessons our kindergarten teachers drill into us as children are also useful in our adult relationships. But niceness is one rule that can actually backfire in a romantic relationship. Some partners can (however wrongly) interpret niceness as weakness. Moreover, niceness is often insincere—it is a coping mechanism taught to us as children to help us deal with people we don’t really like. True kindness, by contrast, doesn’t condescend or pretend. Kindness looks to the core worth of another person and responds accordingly. Kindness doesn’t mean avoiding conflict or even always “playing nice”—it just means processing through issues with a sincere respect for your spouse’s feelings and humanity.
Be sexually generous.
Marriage is not an excuse to be a sexual slacker. When you put your spouse’s sexual needs first, your own are likely to be satisfied as well. If for some reason your needs continue to be unmet, don’t just seethe about it—communicate with your spouse. Affirm your love for him or her while helping them understand what makes you feel loved.
Your presence, both physical and emotional, is critical to the survival of your relationship. Try to be present in the moment and to be sensitive to your spouse’s emotional state. Really listen when your spouse speaks. If your job or other obligations routinely keep you away from your spouse, take a hard look at your options and determine what is best for the overall health of your marriage.
Before you rush to judge, take a step back and remember what you have in your partner. Is he or she loyal, considerate or kind? What flaws of yours does your spouse patiently endure?
You shouldn’t be helpful just for the sake of getting what you want. But you’d be surprised at how often helping your partner out—especially when he or she is stressed—can yield the kind of response you crave most. If you feel shortchanged on affection, communication or time, try being more helpful. It’s not a magic formula guaranteed to bring results, but it can help improve your spouse’s mood, and by extension, your relationship.
Drop your delusions and see how much room it frees up for real love.
Some people thrive on drama. If you are one of those people, you are bound to be disappointed by any healthy relationship. Where no drama exists, drama-addicts will find ways to provoke or manufacture it.
Don’t nag or nitpick.
You may think your “constructive” criticism or helpful reminders will help mold your spouse into your idealized man or woman. More likely, it will just wear them out. You may or may not get what you want … and you are likely to something you didn’t want: resentment.
Don’t lose focus.
We live in a hyper-saturated, hyper-stimulated world. Beauty is distorted, augmented and airbrushed. Willing sexual partners are around every dance club corner. Pornography is ubiquitous. Destructive behaviors are exaggerated (and glamorized) by “reality” shows. It seems like everyone is misbehaving and if you aren’t, you must be missing out. But the desire for meaningful relationships is at the core of the human heart. You can try to take the shortcut to this kind of happiness by responding to every enticement that comes your way. Or you can choose to focus on a real relationship, and enjoy the enduring pleasures such a relationship provides.
Don’t be selfish.
It sounds simple enough. But selfishness underlies most of our broken relationships—and it is a hard habit to break. Selfishness can take many forms: financial, behavioral, emotional or sexual. We all fall victim to selfishness from time to time, but chronic selfishness can do lasting damage to a relationship. Selfishness presents itself as a way to secure your own happiness, but most of the time, it actually erodes it.