Image: Unsplash | Jenna Jacobs
We know that marriage can be tough – it is always a challenge to learn to live with someone long term, and find ways of meeting each other’s needs and getting along. Fortunately, we have decades of research and advice from relationship experts, who have offered the following valuable tips for a better marriage:
1. Think of marriage as a friendship
No, not the friend-zone – but a friendship as well as a romantic relationship – based on fun, common interests, enjoying each other’s company and supporting each other.
2. Prioritize the quality of your intimacy
Quality over quantity, every time – good sex beats lots of sex, and in a long term relationship it can be important to find opportunities to connect and be vulnerable with each other in this way.
3. Grow together, not apart
We all change during a relationship, and being able to accept and celebrate this is key to success. While it is important to remember where you started, it is also essential that you both continue to grow as individuals over time.
4. Don’t try to change your partner
As much as we might be annoyed by certain habits or traits, trying to change our partner is the recipe for disaster. We need to find ways of accepting them for who they are – after all, they are giving us the same courtesy!
5. Leave your judgement at the door
Being around someone 24/7 means that we will, at times, feel frustrated or annoyed by them – but expecting them to be perfect has some bad consequences for the relationship. Offering support instead of judgement means that there is less criticism and more focus on the future – a positive step for both of you.
6. Learn effective communication
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship – and the experts believe that it is not the conflicts, but how we resolve them, that defines a relationship’s success. This might involve using direct communication, having some coaching around how to manage conflict, or practicing emotional regulation.
7. Don’t try to ‘win’ the argument
As tempting as it can be to try and ‘win’, sometimes ‘it is better to be happy than right’. This means that, in an argument, we often need to find a compromise or common ground, rather than forcing the other to admit defeat.
8. Maintain your social life
Relationships are just like plants – they need oxygen to survive! This means that seeing friends and having your own time and pursuits will likely improve the quality of your relationship – and give you a chance to miss each other.
9. Acknowledge if it isn’t working
Relationships have their ups and downs – and even the happiest of couples reach out for help at times of stress. Couples therapy has mostly overcome its stigma, and is starting to be seen as a valuable tool for ANY relationship – not just those that are in trouble.
10. Find joy
While day to day life can be tough at times, we can often find joy in small things if we look – whether this is a walk together in the sun, social gatherings with friends, or a romantic meal on the couch in front of a movie. Focusing on these small pleasures as a couple, and making sure they happen as often as possible, helps to build up the positive interactions between the two of you and improves your connection.