By Amy Morin
If someone asked you what makes a marriage good, what would you say? There are a lot of ideas about what makes for a successful relationship. Some people think it has more to do with how you feel while others think it has more to do with how you treat one another.
Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee interviewed happy couples to find out what they felt made their relationship a success. Couples from all walks of life were interviewed. Clearly, marital satisfaction was not dependent upon a couple’s financial status or career status. Instead, they found that these characteristics were central to marriages across different religions and economic backgrounds.
Characteristics of a Healthy Marriage
They wrote a book a book about their findings, titled, The Good Marriage. They found that successful couples reported the following factors were most important to a healthy marriage:
- Mutual respect- each partner must behave respectfully toward one another, even during conflict.
- Each partner cherishes the other and they don’t take their spouse for granted.
- They genuinely like one another. They enjoy one another’s company and have a strong friendship.
- They are emotionally supportive of each other.
- They express their gratitude and appreciation toward one another often.
- They work to create happy memories as a couple.
- They trust each other and report feeling a sense of safety and security.
- They share a feeling that the spouse is central to his or her world.
- They have a strong sense of morality and share similar values.
- Each person feels their spouse is worthy of being loved and they work toward ensuring their spouse feels loved.
- They share similar realistic views about life’s problems and work together to overcome obstacles.
- They believe that the relationship brings out the best in each other.
- They share a sense that they have a responsibility to try and meet their partner’s needs.
- They feel fortunate to have one another and feel that marriage makes them better people.
- They share the household responsibilities and childcare in an agreed upon manner.
- They believe that both partners contribute to the success of the marriage and they take responsibility for their share.
- They feel safe sharing positive and negative emotions with one another.
- They share the view the marriage requires hard work and constant attention. 18.
- They report a satisfying sex life and they believe physical affection is important to the health of their marriage.
What Can We Learn From Their Findings?
For couples who don’t find themselves in a good marriage, there’s hope. Most of what makes a marriage good seems to be attitude and behavior. Both of which can be changed. It’s quite possible that changing your behaviors and changing your attitude may lead feeling better about the health of your relationship.
Changing Your Attitude
One of the main aspects of a good marriage seems to be appreciating your spouse. Focus on what is good about your spouse and your marriage. Show gratitude and appreciation to your spouse. Provide daily compliments and praise.
Look for the positive every day. Take notice of what your spouse contributes to the marriage and what good qualities your spouse brings out in you. Take responsibility for your behavior and your ability to contribute to a happy marriage. Write down three good things about your spouse every day to help you stay focused on the positive.
Changing Your Behavior
A healthy marriage requires you and your spouse to interact in positive ways. Offering positive affirmations, pointing out what you appreciate, and looking for the positive goes a long way. Tell your spouse you appreciate what he does for you, how he makes you feel, and all you have together.
Also, creating fond memories is something any couple can work on. Find opportunities to do fun things together. Schedule date nights, look for adventure, and go out of your way to do nice things for your spouse.
Developing a Good Marriage
A good marriage takes hard work. Couples don’t just “get lucky” or “have it easy.” Instead, they devote time, energy, and work on building and improving their relationship.
All couples hit bumps in the road. How you respond to those bumps in the road makes a big difference. Do you view those bumps in the road as an opportunity to build and grow your marriage? Or do you allow problems to cause you to grow apart?
Sometimes people just resign themselves to a mediocre marriage. However, if you don’t work on the relationship and your marriage is only mediocre to begin with, you’ll be entering into dangerous territory when you hit some bumps in the road.
Strive to make your marriage the best it can be. Take stock of the areas in which you could improve on and work on strategies to improve the health of your marriage on a daily basis.
Find out more about Amy Morin and her article What Makes a Marriage Good? on The Marriage Counseling Blog (http://marriagecounselingblog.com)