Marriage is a lifelong journey with unexpected joys and troubles, opportunities, and challenges. No marriage is a walk in the park, yet several positive traits can help a marriage last and adapt to the many changes life may bring.
Everyone wants their marriage to be a success—a love story for the ages! Keep your marriage on the road to marital bliss with the best marriage advice we’ve ever heard from relationship experts and family therapists.
Develop Stellar Communication and Listening Skills
One may think communication is rather easy. However, when it comes to marriage, healthy communication is more of a skill that’s acquired over time. Effective communication is key to happy, healthy relationships. According to the Power of Two, a program specifically aimed at improving marital communication, couples with good communication “talk freely, openly, and feel safe sharing their most private thoughts.”
Power of Two explains, “They listen attentively, trying to understand what their partner says with sympathy rather than looking for what’s wrong in what their partner has to say or dismissing what they hear, even if they have a different perspective.”
Learning how to communicate respectfully takes time, patience, and most of all forgiveness. Communication doesn’t stop with your daily schedules and the hustle and bustle of ordinary life. Married couples should communicate about their hopes, fears, and anxieties, allowing good feelings to flow between each other.
Understand That Marriage Is a Commitment
Choosing to love is a choice, and it can be an easy one when everyone is on the same page. But when the going gets tough, commitment can be challenging. However, facing challenging times can grow those martial bonds.
According to therapist Jeffrey Larson, married couples will experience three marriage stages: romantic love, disillusionment, and decision point. Couples feel a passionate love during the first phase of romantic love, which eventually dies down when they enter the disillusionment stage when most couples realize things aren’t exactly as incredible as they thought. Ultimately, marriage enters the decision point where married couples realize that married life is not always picture-perfect. Once couples make it past the decision point, they enter a stage of deeper love and commitment.
Strengthen your commitment by adjusting your expectations. As time passes, both you and your spouse will experience individual changes and challenges that will affect your marriage. Remember to always communicate and value your commitment.
Learn to Let It Go
No one is perfect—not you or your spouse! One of the best pieces of marriage advice is to have patience and forgiveness. Holding on to past transgressions and continually taunting your partner with these errors are poisonous to your marriage.
Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW emphasizes that “couples who practice forgiveness can rid themselves of the toxic hurt and shame that holds them back from feeling connected to each other.”
Forgiveness can be challenging for anyone, especially when emotions are running high. The Gottman Method suggests couples practice emotional attunement. This skill allows couples to fully process and move on from negative emotional events by learning to understand and engage with their partner’s emotional state, ultimately creating a stronger bond. Bottom line: Forgiveness is key when it comes to overcoming transgressions and securing a healthy marriage.
Keep the Spark Alive
Don’t allow your marriage to enter and stay in the sex-starved zone. Many couples find that sexual intimacy significantly drops after having a baby, or the newness of their relationship wears off after a few years. Daily stresses and work exhaustion get in the way of connecting with your spouse, which leads to sexual roadblocks.
Happily married couples who make time for intimacy have more satisfying sex lives, which leads to happiness and feeling more connected.
Set the mood with date nights. A night away from home allow couples time to reconnect, break away from hectic schedules, and focus on one another while having fun.
Intimacy doesn’t always have to be a huge production. For some it can be the act of holding one another close, touching, caressing, kissing, or cuddling. Focus on your needs and communicate those to your spouse. Having conversations about your sex life is a healthy part of marriage too.
Dr. Chris Kraft from John Hopkins Medicine suggests opening the conversation with the following questions:
- What are some sexual activities we’ve done that you really enjoyed?
- What are some things you’d like to try?
- Is there anything you’d like to do more or less of?
- How connected with me are you feeling lately?
Marriage Is Built on Trust
Honest and open communication builds trust in a marriage which ultimately provides your partner with feelings of safety and security. Without trust, a marriage can’t thrive.
Trust is built and earned over time through communication as couples gradually move through married life together. Couples can build trust by communicating their feelings, being open and honest, and being attuned to their partner’s feelings as well.
Partners should remain consistent, reliable, and dependable. Be willing to have intimate conversations about how you and your partner will navigate situations in which you feel betrayed. This can include poor choices, misunderstandings, or unmet expectations. Ultimately these conversations will strengthen bonds and build trust.