How Can You Have a Happy Marriage and a Good Relationships
There is no magic formula for how to live a happy married life. Statistics have shown that the odds of two people having a fulfilling and happy marriage where attraction and emotional bonds continually grow stronger as the relationship continues is low.
The divorce rate seems to spike at the two, seven and twenty year anniversary dates. The divorce rate is even higher with second marriages than with first marriages.
Sometimes people have not learned from their past mistakes. But some people who have experienced divorce through their own relationship or through their parents, make evaluations and learn from their experiences and observations.
The majority of marriages fail due to monetary issues, unmet expectations and poor communication. Marital satisfaction tends to decline after the first child is born.
A strong and happy marriage usually evolves when both partners take responsibility for their own lives, by learning from their past mistakes and choosing to resolve conflicts so that harmony and peace exist in the relationship.
So what is the secret to having a happy marriage?
For couples who are looking for ways to make your long-term marriage happier or looking for small & simple habits for a happy marriage.
Here are some strong marriage tips for having a solid and happy marriage:
- Do things together – by going on a weekly date you will keep romance and your friendship stronger.
- Work on something together – whether it is home repair, a vacation, doing a jigsaw puzzle together, sharing values and time together will strengthen your bonds with each other.
- Prioritize time together – when you are together make each the focus of your attention – enjoy one another.
- Share your values, your hopes, your fears, your dreams – share your expectations, how to spend leisure time, money, roles, and family life.
- Listen to each other – show each other you care by paying attention to what they are feeling and experiencing.
- Treat each other with respect – as you would others
- Manage differences and difficulties as they arise so they don’t become barriers to intimacy.
- Address sensitive issues with care so they don’t become confrontational.
- Communication is so important – think about what your own feelings are and avoid becoming defensive so that effective communication can take place.
- Seek marriage counseling for issues that persist for more than 30 days so a professional can help you work past the obstacles – you don’t have to wait to do counseling as a last resort. The earlier the conflicts arise, the better your results will be.
- Don’t take each other for granted. Acknowledge each other, appreciate each other, and cherish each other.
- Be receptive to each other’s needs.
- When issues arise, move from me to we – attack the problem together instead of each getting defensive.
- Be sure to make many more positive statements to each other and about each other and your relationship than negative comments. Every criticism needs to have five positive things mentioned too.
Personalities and relationships
In 2007, Robert Levenson from the University of California, Berkeley conducted a study with middle age and older couples. Some of the couples had been together 55 years.
His study showed that people with similar personalities had a decrease in marital satisfaction over a 12 year period. Personality differences in some areas showed more success in building happy marriages.
Levenson believes that different personalities may give each partner complementary resources that help couples deal with challenges that occur. Also couples who are too similar may tend to get more bored with each other.
Some personality tests, when analyzed by looking at the personality scores of couples, he believed they can actually show the quality and duration of the marriage.
Some studies have shown that personality tests of both partners can predict the quality and duration of a marriage.
How to predict if a couple will stay together
A professor of human ecology and psychology named Ted Huston, Ph.D, from the University of Texas at Austin of human conducted a long term study he named the PAIR Project (Processes of Adaptation in Intimate Relationships).
In studying relationships, Huston followed 168 couples in four counties in Pennsylvania. The people lived in rural areas and were of working class. In the study, he wanted to know whether he would be able to predict if they couples would stay together.
Ted Huston, Ph.D., a professor of human ecology and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, was showcasing the results of a long-term study of married couples that pierces the heart of social psychological science: the ability to forecast whether a husband and wife, two years after taking their vows, will stay together and whether they will be happy.
The study was done in 1981 and began from their wedding day through 13 years of their marriage.
Multiple interviews were done as Huston looked at the way the couples interacted with each other while they were dating, as newlyweds, and through their married years.
He measured their negative and positive emotions towards each other and watched how their feelings changed over time.
He wondered if newlyweds who hug and kiss were more likely, for example, to have happy marriages. Did newlyweds who constantly bickered have a worse marriage, are couples who lose their romance more likely to divorce?
Dating and happy relationship
Prior research was mostly done with couples who have been married for a number of years. The research has shown social psychologists that newlyweds start their marriage in a romantic state and have trouble successfully navigating the issues that come up during marriage.
Benjamin Karny and Thomas Bradbury study in 1995 and John Gottman and Nell Jacobson have conducted many marriage surveys over decades, that showed the best predictor of divorce had a lot to do with negative behavior patterns such as criticism, contempt towards each other, defensiveness, emotional withdrawal.
Huston’s study looked at couples earlier in their relationship, from their dating days and showed some predictors that the prior studies had missed. His research showed that
- most newlyweds were not blissfully in love.
- couples who had intense romance were more prone to divorce because they couldn’t maintain the intensity of the relationship.
- lackluster marriages were not more prone to divorce since their marriages were less fulfilling to begin with so there is less deterioration of the romance
- loss of love and affection
As the married years continued, his study resembled other studies of couples who were married for a long time. He divided the couples into four groups:
- married and happy
- married and unhappy
- divorced within seven years
- divorced after seven years
Each category showed a distinctive pattern. The couples with happy marriages were very much in love, and showed much affection towards each other like newlyweds.
These couples tended to be more decisive, expressed more positive feelings and less negativity towards each other, and viewed their mate in a more positive light than other couples. These feelings remained stable over time.
The couples who divorced later were affectionate as newlyweds, over time they were less loving, less positive towards their mates, and more critical of them.
The study showed that there was a correlation to how well the spouses got along as newlyweds as to how it affected their future together.
But the main factor between the couples that divorced and the couples that stayed together was the amount of change their relationship observed in the first two years.
Huston said, “The first two years are key–that’s when the risk of divorce is particularly high”. These changes were good indicators, according to his research about where the marriage was going.
Among the 56 couples who participated in the study, it was the loss of love and affection, not so much the conflict, that was the biggest predictor of deterioration in the relationship.
The lack of love and affection created a downward spiral that leads to increased arguments and eventually a parting of ways.
Huston feels from his study that one of the ways to preserve a marriage may stem from helping the couple work on their positive feelings they have toward each other, not as much in resolving the conflicts.
Other researchers have validated this finding in their research too. The loss of intimacy takes a heavy toll on a marriage.
Some reasons for high divorce rates
In other research studies, it has been estimated that 25% of the cause of divorce may be attributable to the personality characteristics of each spouse. The personality trait, neuroticism has been shown to lead to high rates of divorce.
Neuroticism is a combination of many negative traits such as being hostile, angry, irritable, depressed, anxious, vulnerable, self-consciousness and being prone to having irrational thoughts, being impulsive, and poor coping skills, especially when it comes to stress-related situations.
It can be difficult for a partner to deal with their mate’s behavior and this can lead to a decline in sexual satisfaction and drop in marital satisfaction.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.