Marriage takes work. Unfortunately, marriage in the movies isn’t an accurate portrayal of a real life relationship. While dating someone, it may seem as if nothing could go wrong and that marriage is an obvious next step. It’s important to know that people change, especially if you marry young (and even if you don’t!). There are books and blogs suggesting what you can do to make a marriage work; however, these three tips are the most researched and talked about.
1) Finances are important. When you’re living with someone every day, sharing finances (or not sharing finances) can be difficult. The number one reported reason for divorce is finances. According to a 2009 study by Jeffrey Dew at the Utah State University, divorce is more common among couples who have “financial disagreements.” Couples who “disagree about finances once a week” are over 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who “disagree about finances a few times a month.”
Before you consider marriage, talk about what you expect from each other financially. If you’d rather be a homemaker, make that clear before you tie the knot. Talk about any money owed on both sides such as credit cards or student loans. The best advice is to be honest about anything involving your wants, needs and expectations financially.
2) Pick your battles. You can’t win every disagreement, and arguing gets old, fast. When you’re right, you may want to remind your partner; however, no man wants a nagging wife. A common mistake couples make is to bring up the past. It becomes a “he said, she said” situation that ends in resentment and ultimately can end in divorce.
John Gottman, Ph.D and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, reports that there are resolvable problem and perpetual problems. “One way to identify solvable problems is that they seem less painful, gut-wrenching, or intense than perpetual, gridlocked ones,” he reports. Problems that are solvable are situational, and there’s no underlying conflict like perpetual problems. For solvable problems there are five steps you can take to resolve the issue:
- Start the conversation without criticism.
- Make and receive repair attempts (action or verbalization that downsizes the tension).
- Soothe yourself of your partner (Take a break from the conversation if you need).
- Compromise. Gottman suggests that each person draw two circles — a smaller one inside a larger — one and in the smaller circle, make a list of your non-negotiable points. In the bigger one, write down what you can compromise on. Share them with each other and look for any common ground. Consider what you agree on, what your common goals are, and how you can find a resolution.
- Be tolerant of each other’s faults.
3) Respect your partner and always complement his strengths. Although you may fall in and out of love a few times (or more) during the course of your marriage, it’s important to speak of your partner in only the best light. We all have a tendency to share our partners’ downfalls with friends or family members, but we need to think twice before doing that. As a wife, you may be more forgiving than the people around you. What you tell your family and friends could severely impact the way they see your spouse and how they treat him.
Therefore, unless you absolutely can’t keep your frustrations to yourself or feel you need some serious advice, it’s best to work out things with your partner without getting other people involved. Gottman reports that “Happy couples respect each other and have a general positive view of each other.”
Fondness and admiration are two of the most important elements in a satisfying, and long-term relationship. Happy dating!