We all get married hoping for a long and successful partnership, but once you pass the newlywed stage and the post-wedding bliss fade away, you quickly realize how much work marriage actually is. If you're struggling, you're not alone. Both spouses have to make a concerted effort and try every day to make a marriage thrive, and according to clinical psychologist John Gottman, there's a few things you can to do help set you up for success.
Meet the Expert
Clinical psychologist John Gottman, along with writer Nan Silver, analyzes seven principles of a successful relationship in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Gottman's research has been conducted using hundreds of couples, both new and long-established. He also claims he can predict which couples will divorce with 94 percent accuracy, so these ideas are definitely worth exploring.
Read on for seven principles for achieving marital bliss.
Enhance Your Love Maps
Gottman's thinking here is that you understand what makes your partner tick. As well as knowing their favorite things to do, you're aware of what makes them sad or frustrated. This means you can avoid conflict and focus on mutually beneficial activities. You'll also be encouraging your partner's happiness in general.
Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration
It's essential that you not only admire and appreciate your partner but show it through positive interactions and reassurance. Take time to talk to your partner about their day, offering genuine praise for achievements and sympathy for setbacks. It's vital that you take the time to listen to be sincere, and remember that a little encouragement goes a long way in brightening their day.
Turn Towards Each Other Instead of Away
As well as encouraging your partner and showing fondness, it's important to build up a relationship of mutual closeness. Be patient and practice everyday intimacy. By checking in with your partner and spending some time together even on busy days, you'll build up a stronger relationship overall.
Let Your Partner Influence You
Allowing anyone to have total control over you isn't exactly the basis of a healthy relationship, but mutually influencing each other in a cohesive way can lead to new experiences and strengthen bonds over time. It's important to work as a team and consider the source of any conflict. Take a step back from arguments and look at the situation objectively. Why is your partner upset, is there some truth to what they're saying? Sometimes you may have to give a little to get a little.
Solve Your Solvable Problems
It's easier to make a marriage last if you have fewer problems in your relationship overall, so look at tackling problems that can be solved. Gottman suggests a five-step approach to facing solvable problems: Approach the topic softly and without criticism. Then, remove tension by focusing on honesty and a desire to make things work. Realize it's okay to feel passionate and take a break for a while to cool off if necessary. Then, come to a compromise, identifying what can and can't be negotiated, to edge towards a happy middle ground. Finally, practice tolerance and realize that no one is flawless. After all, it's our differences that make us interesting.
Gottman underlines the need to communicate on recurring issues. Perhaps you feel like you're missing out on a part of life because of your relationship. Maybe you miss seeing friends or want to take a calculated risk in your career, but your partner doesn't seem to understand. Be honest with your partner about your motivations and they'll be more likely to see your side of things. No one is a mind reader, so you need to communicate the root of your desires. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Create Shared Meaning
Everyday life can often get on top of people. It's easy to slip into a routine where a relationship simply becomes a practical template on which life is built. Take the time to talk about your shared goals, values, and general thoughts on life. Remember what attracted you to each other in the first place, like shared interests or philosophies. Keep that in mind when times get tough. Romantic rituals like weekly date nights can be a great way to reconnect and unwind from the pressures of work and family life.