You have probably heard all the gloom and doom predictions about marriage: it takes hard work; almost 50% of marriages fail; it requires sacrifice; it requires compromise; etc. What you may not know is that none of these have to be true for your marriage.
You have the ability to make your marriage anything you want it to be. All you need to create your happily ever after is interest, intention, and the secrets to make it work.
1: Do sweat the small stuff
Everyday issues and annoyances that accumulate lead to unhappiness and divorce. It may seem like small stuff to you but it may not be small to your partner. If your partner makes a request for you to stop an annoying behavior and you don’t, the real message you send your partner is that their feelings don’t matter. Assuming your partners does, or should, feel the same way you do is asking for trouble.
It’s the small things in life that can add up to so much in how you feel in your relationship. When you pay attention to the things that matter to your partner, you let them know you are paying attention and have their interests at heart.
Remembering, and honoring, the special events in a big way are wonderful. But it’s the things you both do every day that will be the glue that holds your marriage together.
2: Pay attention to the positives
Negative interactions are much more powerful than positive ones. When you discount, or ignore, the positive things your partner does, you paint a false picture of the relationship. Expecting your partner to never do anything to upset you is unrealistic. However, focusing disproportionately on their faults is deadly.
Remember why you chose your partner in the first place. Identify at least five positive things your partner does each day. Pay them at least one compliment for each of those things. Engaging in this exercise will help keep you from taking your partner for granted. It won’t make the annoyances go away; it will just put them in perspective.
3: Know when to hold them
When trying to discuss an issue with your partner, especially a hard one, know when to bring it up. The timing of these conversations, and your approach, will do more than anything else to determine your success.
The usual time to bring something up is when you are upset about it. This is the worst time to talk about something because it inevitably ends up in a fight. When we are upset we don’t listen very well. You have a point you want to make and you want to be heard. More than likely, you also want our partner to agree with you. But if you don’t listen to your partner too, reaching agreement becomes more difficult.
A safe rule of thumb is to never discuss difficult topics after 8 pm. This is because you are both tired and not able to think clearly. It’s also harder to keep your emotions in check. Remember, timing is everything. Use it wisely.
4: Criticize with care and consideration
When you have a complaint about something your partner does, be aware of how you bring it up. (Remember #3)
A complaint is “a specific statement of anger, displeasure, distress, or other negativity”. For example, you might be annoyed by your partner for not putting their laundry away. It’s important not to go global and make a sweeping statement about how your partner is a slob and doesn’t do anything around the house.
Let your partner know what you want to talk about a day before so they can have thought through their position. This prevents any feelings of being ambushed and encourages your partner’s willing participation.
Agree to a time to talk about it and stay on topic. Use “I” statements and own your feelings. Bear in mind, the word “you” is a fighting word in these situations.
Remember, no one likes to be criticized. Be kind, gentle and give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Following these tips (and the ones in the next posts) will help keep harmony in your relationship and increase your chance of a long, successful marriage.
Check back next Thursday for more of the 10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage!
— Newlywed Survival (@NewlywedSurvive) June 16, 2012