MARRIAGE MUST BE MUTUALLY IMPORTANT:
Some couples are fortunate enough to understand and address each other’s needs intuitively but the majority of successful marriages are the result of both partners making it a priority. An enduring and happy marriage requires that any number of important–and often countervailing–emotional needs remain in a constant state of equilibrium.
There’s no shortage of highly detailed recipes for a ‘great marriage’ available on TV, in bookstores and online. Every couple’s relationship is different, however, so specific actions that work for one couple work for another.
It’s more helpful to instead consider the importance of a number of ‘big picture’ macro concepts that are essential for marital harmony and longevity.
Yoga and meditation have become enormously popular not only for their physical benefits but also for the mental and emotional benefits they offer. Both practices place great emphasis on the concept of ‘awareness’.
The mantras ‘be here now’ and ‘be aware’ have crossed over to the mainstream. ‘Mindfulness’ is increasingly suggested as the definitive ‘secret’ to everything from improving performance at work to overcoming drug addiction.
At the risk of oversimplifying any number of serious problems that people face, the ‘mindfulness’ advocates are on the right track in most situations. It’s unquestionably a strong foundation for a successful marriage.
Always being aware of your level of marital satisfaction, as well as that of your partner, creates the ability to deal with ‘unmet needs’ and other issues immediately. It’s a great way to address problems at their root before they can develop into major issues.
It also guarantees that the couple won’t ignore or minimize the significance of any dissatisfaction. It provides the ancillary benefits of demonstrating mutual commitment to the relationship and to each other as well as facilitating more honest communication.
PUT IN THE WORK:
The adage that a marriage will ‘work itself out’ as long as the two people ‘love each other’ is not only untrue it’s downright dangerous. The success of a marriage should rank among the top priorities in the lives of both partners.
Your spouse should be the most important person in your life and the way you treat them should reflect that significance. Take frequent and decisive steps to demonstrate your love and devotion to your spouse.
Make sure to compliment them often for things you find attractive or positive contributions they’ve made to the marriage (that you notice because you’re ‘aware’). Ignoring problems or unmet needs hoping they’ll ‘improve on their own’ is often the start of a marital ‘downward spiral’.
By proactively addressing unmet needs and other issues, you and your spouse not only gain a deeper understanding of each other, but eliminate many of the most significant threats to a harmonious relationship.
MAKE YOUR SPOUSE’S NEEDS A PRIORITY:
Unfortunately, making the needs of your spouse a top priority is sometimes conflated with subservience or sacrificing your personal needs. That’s not the way it works in a great marriage.
Doing what you can to address your spouse’s needs–especially needs for love, security and commitment–strengthens emotional bonds between the couple. It is this shared and secure attachment that characterizes most successful marriages.
Prioritizing your spouse’s needs can be manifested in many ways, not all of which are as weighty as ‘security’ or ‘commitment’. Encourage your spouse in their dreams and goals.
A couple doesn’t need to do everything together but try to find shared interests where you can. Everyone has their individual strengths and weaknesses including your spouse–instead of criticizing weaknesses do what you can to help your partner improve in that area or just figure out how to compensate for them.
Being proactive about identifying your spouse’s needs and trying to satisfy them will pay great dividends in marital happiness.
IT’S A TWO WAY STREET:
Attention to the aforementioned ‘themes’ is ultimately more effective than trying to adhere to a ‘one size fits all’ laundry list of ‘good marriage behaviors.
When you act proactively and decisively to work in the best interest of your spouse and your marriage, you’re likely to receive the same treatment in return.
When both partners have a strong reciprocal interest in each other’s needs and satisfaction within the relationship a healthy and happy marriage is the result.