What does it take to be good at marriage? Surprisingly, there’s no real secret. All it takes are a few common-sense rules. It can take a lifetime of maturity and growing up to truly get good at these rules, however.
Communicate with empathy and kindness
Couples have been admonished for decades to communicate more and listen more, but it doesn’t seem to help them. The problem, often, is that people have trouble understanding what it really means to do these things.
To communicate isn’t necessarily about never hiding anything. If you need to keep a couple of things to yourself, you have the right to do it. Rather, communicating is about feeling an internal need to have your spouse know about the things that happen to you and the thoughts that go through your mind, with the hope of experiencing satisfaction in having them know.
When disagreements occur, there is an even more important rule of communication to apply — kindness and empathy. Parties to a communicative exchange need trust and mutual respect to be able to understand each other. When there is genuine criticism, anger or disagreement, they need to be expressed with kindness, empathy, and maturity at all times.
Listening is even more critical. It is about more than simply staying quiet until the other finishes speaking; instead, it involves putting in real work to understand what they say. Then, it involves acting on what you’ve understood. It isn’t actual listening unless you make an effort to act on what you’ve heard.
Few things can go wrong with a marriage when you bring these qualities to it.
Be financially responsible
While it would be nice if love was all it took to make a success of a marriage, it usually takes more: it takes adequate finances and a financially responsible attitude. In marriages in which one partner seems to not do their best to make enough money, or where one partner is not committed to being careful with their spending, the resentment that comes in can be of the most toxic kind. Your communication skills can greatly help in bringing agreement and a responsible attitude to money in your marriage.
When there are problems, you can be sure that one person simply won’t understand. Communication is about helping the other understand when they find it hard. It could take days or months of gentle, easy-going discussions to make some kind of agreement come about. It takes this kind of patience to make a marriage work.
Being financially responsible is about cutting back to be able to pay bills, finding ways to save, and finding innovative ways to address debt (student loan consolidation made easy by certain services would be an example). All these are extremely important to a successful marriage.
Doing your part can be one of the best ways to ensure a happy marriage. While many people do want to pull their own weight when it comes to household chores and childcare responsibilities, they may be unable to because of work commitments. Where you can’t do enough, merely talking about how much you wish you could is a good way to ease resentment.
People don’t get married for a decent level of happiness; they marry for excitement. The excitement doesn’t need to necessarily come from who you are; instead, it can come from the activities that you pursue. Trying new stuff all the time can magically make yours an exciting and successful marriage.