What are the special ingredients that make some marriages work while others don’t?
The latest research shows that there are specific behaviors and attitudes that can dramatically increase your odds of being happily married. And, as always, it takes two willing participants to pull it off. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, marriage offers a wide range of benefits, including improvements in economic wellbeing, mental and physical health, and the wellbeing of children. Given that married people tend to live longer, have less depression, recover from illness faster, and tend to be more fiscally sound, marriage is a worthwhile investment.
The New Year is a perfect time to check in with each other for a tune up. Based on the research, my clinical observations, and some of my own personal experience, here are some habits of happily married couples.
•They create a sense of safety with each other – in good times and bad. They feel comfortable expressing their feelings, problems, and dissatisfactions.
•They are mindful about whether they are causing their partner pleasure or pain and consistently try to bring their partner pleasure.
•They work at maintaining a secure, loving, emotional connection. Taking time to listen to one another, trying to understand each other, and offering genuine empathy helps calm the brain, the nervous system, and creates safety in the relationship. The biggest risk factor for divorce is prolonged emotional disengagement from each other.
•Successful couples allow their partner to influence them. They listen, try to understand each other, and accept their partners’ guidance.
•They have realistic expectations. They don’t expect marriage to be easy or for there not to be bumps in the road.
•They live within their means and don’t overspend.
•They don’t expect their partner to make them happy. Each person finds meaning and personal satisfaction individually or together and takes responsibility for their happiness and personal fulfillment.
•They focus more on what’s right about the relationship than what’s wrong. They accept each other’s strengths and weak points and learn how to bring out the best in each other.
•They create rituals that nurture a loving friendship, such as taking regular walks together, greeting each other with a hug and kiss, holding hands, and sharing in each other’s interests.
“We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Sue Johnson, Ph.D.
“The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight Keys to Building a Lifetime of Connection and Contentment.” By Scott Haltzman.
Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Rancho Santa Fe. Specializing in marriage counseling, stepfamilies, marriage enrichment programs and Hold Me Tight couples workshops. Author of “Wisdom on Stepparenting:How to Succeed Where Others Fail.”
Next Marriage Enrichment Program: A Hold Me Tight Workshop is Feb. 2-3. Limited to 15 couples.
Please check our website for more information. www.cottageclinic.net or call (858) 259-0146