There isn’t one unique formula to ensure marital success or satisfaction. Marriage is a forever evolving, learning process that takes the mutual development of partners to build a long-lasting alliance. Like many milestones, marriages grow through stages and unique phases over time. Marriages require attention and an unfaltering commitment to foster the relationship, long after the pronouncement.
Below are helpful habits or “ingredients” partners may embrace for relational success:
1. Flirting: Relationships don’t always have to be serious, and flirting is one way to let partners know that they are still longed for and loved, despite the hang ups and challenges. Flirting invigorates relationships and sends the message that romance and playfulness is important to spouses.
2. Non-harboring: When issues come up within marriages, addressing them right away prevents negative emotions from festering. It also signals to partners the value of active communication and transparency.
3. Future planning: For a married couple, making plans is incredibly exciting. Sharing goals and visions for life down the road reminds spouses that they are in the minds of their love and highlights togetherness and interdependency.
4. Role switching: Maintaining flexibility is critical in sustaining relationships. Taking on a role or task usually done by the other half, whether at random or during a particularly challenging time allows for more equity and lessens expectations of how a marriage “should” work.
5. Forgiveness: Arguments and conflicts happen inevitably. Accepting the flaws in one’s spouse and forgiving hurts and wrongdoings is a reminder that marriages are a work in progress that do not have to succumb to dissolution when the going gets rough.
6. Affirmations: Sharing the qualities and admirations of a partner with them empowers relationships. It is not only a sign of appreciation but also a reassurance of the intimacy within the marriage.
7. Honest expression: Conveying true feelings to one’s spouse is the only way for them to understand what is transpiring in the relationship. It also underscores that each partner’s experiences are important. When spouses have to decode the meaning of each other’s words or behaviors, it erodes their bond, and paves the way for destructive relational dynamics.
8. Defending: Whether it is defending one another in a fight or defending one’s partner in front of someone outside the relationship, it is important to remember that a marriage is delicate and takes effort to preserve and grow. Defending one’s spouse, in turn, defends the relationship.