What are the secrets to a successful marriage? Why do some couples live in wedded “bliss” and others crash and burn?Why do some couples live in wedded “bliss” and others crash and burn? Click To Tweet
With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, for good or bad, it’s natural for our attention to start turning to love and our relationships. And being a romantic at heart, I’m getting excited. However, despite all the build-up and hype, I think it’s good to talk about the fact that, even though we shouldn’t need a special day to remind us to check in with our relationships, many of us find ourselves scrambling to find the perfect way to show our love on the day of love!
And if you’re married, especially if it’s been for a long time, it can be really challenging to come up with a unique and special way to express your love for your spouse. How are you going to show your spouse how much they mean to you?
But is finding the perfect present on Valentine’s Day critical to having a successful marriage?
It certainly feels like it sometimes.
Like every other holiday, our society is amazing at pouring on the guilt. Everywhere you turn there are messages about what you MUST do or more importantly buy to ensure that your marriage will be strong and stand the test of time.
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret: your gift doesn’t really matter.
Well, it does matter, but not as much as you might be tempted to think.
Let’s just say that a perfectly thought out gift will make your spouse feel very special, BUT your gift isn’t going to bring about a major transformation. If you haven’t been laying the foundation for a successful marriage all year, than your gift isn’t going to mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.
It might be meaningful in the moment, but that positive feeling will quickly fade if the gesture isn’t backed up by year-long behavior that demonstrates your commitment and love.
So what do you need to do?
How do you ensure that your marriage isn’t going to end up a divorce statistic? What can you do to ensure that you have a successful marriage?How do you ensure that your marriage isn’t going to end up a divorce statistic? Click To Tweet
Last week I talked about The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift – It’s Simple and Timeless. But this week, I decided that I needed to dig a little deeper and focus on the nuts and bolts of creating a successful marriage.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a relationship or marriage expert, and I will admit that I’ve been on both ends of the divorce statistics. But my husband and I have been together for 14 years and blissfully (mostly) married for just shy of 11. Here’s what I’ve learned (both from my successful marriage and the not so successful…) 😉
MY 4 SECRETS TO A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE
Make your spouse a priority
I believe that the quickest way to damage a relationship is to make the other person feel like they aren’t a priority. Yes, you probably have an endless number of things vying for your attention, but if you’re not careful your spouse might start to feel like they always come last.
The roots of a strong marriage must have positive emotion to nourish them. You can’t just think about your love for your spouse, you have to demonstrate that love daily through your actions. And those actions have to include putting your spouse first.
Your spouse should be the most important person in your life – and although you may not always be able to be put them first in every single situation, it should be your intention to try.
Making your spouse a priority should be your default.
Respect your spouse
Respect is absolutely crucial for any type of relationship to flourish. It’s even more critical in long-term relationships.
You can show respect through the way you speak to and speak of your partner. Keep in mind that your facial expressions are very powerful, and they must reflect respect. Many times I have watched the interactions between married people, and you can see on their faces that they have contempt for whatever it is that their partner said.
Contempt is deadly to relationships – not to mention the emotional well-being of your partner.
You should never say something to or about your spouse that you would feel uncomfortable or angry hearing from someone else.
Respect your spouse’s time. Be where you say you will be, when you say you will be there. Don’t assume that it’s okay with them if you are constantly late because of other demands on your time. Being late is the same as saying that the other person isn’t worthy of your respect. When you’re late, you’re telling them that they aren’t valuable.
Showing your spouse respect on a daily basis will lay a strong foundation for building a successful marriage upon.
Spend time together
A successful marriage requires that you actually spend time together.
You may be wondering what I’m talking about. You’re married. You live in the same house. Of course you spend time together. I’m not talking about existing in the same realm; I’m talking about making a point to actually spend quality time together.
If you eat dinner at the same time, at the same table, but you’re both buried in your phones or your work, it doesn’t count as spending time together.
If you’re sitting in the same room, but one of you is watching TV and another is playing games on their phone or reading their book, it doesn’t count as spending time together.
These are examples of existing together not being together.
Spending time together means engaging with each other. Talking to each other. Looking at each other. Learning about each other. Sharing with each other.
You don’t have to leave the house or make elaborate plans. Spending time together could be as simple as talking about your day over dinner or snuggling up together to watch a movie – hello physical contact J .
I’m assuming that you decided to marry each other because you enjoyed each other’s company. If that joy has been lost in the shuffle of life, it’s imperative that you recapture it, if you want your marriage to thrive.
Show your love year round
In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is amazing. It might be a little cliché to get dreamy eyed about all the red, pink, hearts and roses, but I don’t care. Valentine’s Day speaks to the romantic in me. But it’s just one day.
There are 364 equally important days in the year. And, of course, each leap year you get an extra day to express your love. So make them count. Don’t wait for one day to try and demonstrate the depth of the way you feel. If you do, you might find that it’s a too little too late situation.
Showing someone you love them doesn’t need to involve grand gestures. A kiss before you leave for work, one when you get home and one before you go to sleep is a good start.
A successful marriage isn’t about gifts, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their place. Occasionally surprising your spouse with a small gift can do wonders. They don’t need to be elaborate or even cost money. My favourite is when my husband picks flowers from our garden for me. A love note in a lunch kit or a coupon for a foot massage would do the trick.
Much more powerful than gifts or words are gestures. Your actions will do much more to demonstrate your love than any amount of money or fancy, sugar coated words. Take notice of what kind of help your spouse could use. Perhaps you could start doing the dishes or folding the laundry. Perhaps, it would take a lot of pressure off your partner, if you took the car in for the maintenance or fixed something that’s broken.
Daily demonstrations of love come naturally in the beginning of a relationship, when you can’t seem to get enough of each other. It’s inevitable that the cravings will subside, but it’s important that the little love gestures don’t fade too.
Life is busy, and it can easily overwhelm a relationship. The next thing you know, you’ve drifted apart and can’t remember why you were so passionate about each other. You might even start to resent each other.
Showing your love every day is the insurance against the gradual degradation of your relationship. It prevents you from losing your grip on each other, as life pulls you in different directions and causes you to grow apart.
It isn’t enough to feel love; you have to show it. And showing it once a year on a “special” day just doesn’t cut it.
ISN’T LOVE ENOUGH?
If you’re a romantic like me, or maybe even if you’re not, you might be tempted to believe that “love” is enough to sustain a long-term marriage, but it isn’t. It’s what brings two people together. It’s what creates the environment for two people to pledge themselves to each other for life – but it doesn’t have what it takes to sustain that commitment for the long haul.
It’s possible to love a person and not be able to sustain a relationship with them. If either of you isn’t putting in the work to ensure that the other feels important and valued, then the relationship will crumble – even if the two people don’t choose to terminate it. These are bleak thoughts on the eve of Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s important to point out that just because a relationship endures, doesn’t mean it’s a success. There are plenty of toxic marriages out there that have lasted beyond significant milestones, but I wouldn’t classify them as successes.
Now, let’s get back to the hearts and roses. A successful marriage doesn’t have to be a lot of work. In fact, if it feels like work then it’s time to re-evaluate because something isn’t quite right. Now, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take effort. But that effort should really be effortless – if that makes any sense – because it shouldn’t be difficult to make the love of your life feel like a priority, respected and loved year round.
Because if they aren’t the love of your life, why did you marry?Because if they aren’t the love of your life, why did you marry? Click To Tweet
Has your relationship stood the test of time? Are you still as blissfully in love with your spouse as you were on the day you married? I would love to hear your story.
WHAT ABOUT THAT VALENTINE’S GIFT?
Now, of course, just because Valentine’s Day really has no bearing on whether or not you will have a successful marriage, doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun on the day of love. Need some ideas? Check out these articles:
For the married :
13 Valentine’s Day Ideas for Married Couples on Bustle.
For the long-term loves (or short-term too):
10 Fun Things to Do on Valentine’s Day on Country Living.
For the broke or frugal:
20 Free Things to Do on Valentine’s Day on The Huffington Post Canada.
For the young or young at heart:
A successful marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. And it shouldn’t feel like hard work. But, it does require a commitment to nurturing your love that goes beyond making grand displays once a year on Valentine’s Day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a grand gesture, and I’m a romantic at heart. So, don’t think that you can’t still go all out making your spouse feel special on Valentine’s Day. By all means shower your spouse with love – just make sure the gesture is backed up by your actions the entire rest of the year.
What do you believe to be the secrets of a successful marriage?
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