Essay Qualities Of Successful Marriage
Chemistry and physical attraction may have brought you and your partner together, but you need more than a spark to maintain a happy, lasting relationship.
With that in mind, we asked marriage therapists to share the one quality they believe couples need to develop in order to stay together for the long haul. Here’s what they had to say.
“You have to be able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Compassion toward your partner allows him or her to feel respected, appreciated and cared for and it fuels the connection, intimacy and partnership. Think of it as the essential food that every healthy relationship needs.” ― CarinGoldstein, a marriage and family therapist in Sherman Oaks, California
“So many couples believe that a lack of problems, or the ability to anticipate and avoid them, is a key to a happy relationship. But in my experience, it’s not so much about avoiding problems so much as it is about being able to solve them together. Problems are always going to happen, just as life does. Knowing you can face them together keeps a relationship strong and healthy.” ― AliciaH. Clark, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
3. A sense of humor
“The strongest couples I’ve met have the capacity to laugh at themselves. When a partner can laugh about their own messiness or their wish to have the table set in a certain way, they can communicate what they want without turning their partner into the enemy. Laughing at ourselves instead of judging makes the journey entertaining instead of a constant battle.” ― RyanHowes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California
“As a specialist in infidelity, I can tell you that trust is the most important thing in a marriage. It takes years to build and a second to break. But it’s more than just sexual fidelity. A spouse is trusted with so much: fears, vulnerabilities, painful wounds from childhood. In a good marriage, a spouse discloses these innermost thoughts and trusts that it won’t be used against them in future arguments.” ― CarolineMadden, a marriage therapist and the author of After A Good Man Cheats: How to Rebuild Trust & Intimacy with Your Wife
“We all need to be praised and appreciated but we so often get the opposite ― criticism ― even from our partner. Positivity is needed in relationships, especially ones that have grown past the honeymoon stage. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘I love you’ or a specific compliment for something done, we all need to hear it. When we praise our partner we strengthen our connection, bond and love.” ― KurtSmith, a therapist who specializes in counseling for men
“Sexual and emotional intimacy is the bright shiny star of relationships. Intimacy is the difference between your relationship with your barista and your relationship with your spouse. You build intimacy over time. Intimacy is the feeling of belonging and being loved. It’s the feeling of being known and understood. It’s the feeling of being accepted and appreciated. If you have ever experienced or heard someone describe their relationship as hollow or empty, it’s probably because it’s lacking intimacy.” ― LauraHeck, a marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Mutual respect
“Life tends to throw some unexpected curveballs along the course of a relationship. The one quality that consistently helps couples through adversity or tragedy is mutual respect. Self-esteem is essential to feel secure and satisfied with yourself so it makes sense that a high esteem and respect for your partner is an essential ingredient in a lasting relationship, both in joyous and challenging times.” ― ElisabethJ. LaMotte, a psychotherapist and founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center
“Being present is more than just putting down your devices and paying attention ― it’s showing that you’re deeply interested in the inner life of your partner and want to make their world better in any way you can. Being present means freely giving your partner the gift of your full focus and being there for them in a way that’s deeper than just being physically present. It means seeing things from their point of view and not just your own.” ― DebraCampbell, a psychologist and couple’s therapist in Melbourne, Australia
“You need to love, honor and cherish one another. These vows are what keep people together happily over the long term. Here’s a brief rundown on what each mean: ‘To love’ means you demonstrate your love. Love is a verb ― an action word. There is no other way to show your spouse you love them except through action. We love through physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and gifts. ‘To honor’ is to respect the one you love. You approach them in conversation in a way that shows you want the best for them and don’t want to harm them. ‘To cherish’ means to show your S.O. how much you value them. You treat them as the special person they are – your one and only.” ― BeckyWhetstone, a marriage family therapist in Little Rock, Arkansas
“There’s no problem you can’t resolve when you’re listening to each other and acting like a team. Create regular times during the week when you can talk uninterrupted and don’t let a week go by without a date night. Keep listening and understanding each other. Every ounce of listening effort will pay off tenfold.” ― M. GaryNeuman, a psychotherapist based in Miami Beach, Florida
“Couples who are good friends know each other well, give each other the benefit of the doubt and are fond of one another. When you take the time to strengthen your friendship, you’re more successful long-term. Making friendship a priority will help you weather any storm that comes your way.” ― DanielleKepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois
A successful marriage is a natural commitment between two people who love, trust, respect, and understand each other, and who are also willing to put forth the effort to communicate and compromise in order to reach shared goals while they grow and change together and individually. However, these are only some of the key components that contribute. Carol Tavris in “Love Story” stated, “It requires a reciprocity of affection, power, and respect for differences-the basis of a love between equals the love between Annie Oakley and Frank Butler” (243).
Frank Butler and Annie Oakley died within eighteen days of each other, illustrating that even after over fifty years together their love and devotion was so strong that they couldn’t live without each other. There is no single, true definition of what makes a successful marriage, for there are too many variables that contribute. There are however, key components that are present in the majority of marriages I am witness to. Those components are love, communication, respect, and hard work.
Some couples have to work harder than others, and in my experience couples who make time for each other struggle less than those who are so busy that they forget they were a couple before life’s demands took up all of their free time. For instance, my brother and his wife get along well and communicate with each other. They still make time to go out on dates without their two small children regularly. In contrast, my sister and her husband were just on the brink of divorce, because they rarely get out of the house together and don’t voice their personal needs to each other.
Thus proving that communicating and making time for each other are key components to any successful marriage. Both couples believe that they have good marriages, but to the outside observer only one of the couples appears to be truly successful. Some couples get married out of convenience or because of the pressures of extenuating circumstances, such as unplanned pregnancies or the duration of their relationship. I have seen many of my friends divorce after marrying for these reasons. Although it is best to bring a child into a marriage, it is not always a good idea to marry in the hopes that one will be creating a proper home for that child.
All too often children are brought up in unhappy families, setting a poor example of what marriage should be. Personally, I didn’t marry my children’s fathers because it would have been unhealthy to do so. It would be worse for a child to see his or her mother abused than to not see his or her father. Similarly, exposing a child on a daily basis to an unhealthy relationship could hurt the child’s short term and long-term emotional development. What kind of example would it set for a child’s parent to settle for a person who they merely put up with, rather than wait and marry a person they truly enjoy?
No couple should marry unless they cannot imagine life without the other person, no matter how many people pressure them. A person should not be annoyed by their spouse; instead they should see their quirks as unique and entertaining, at least for the most part. My fairytale belief in true love and not settling, however inconceivable to most, is based upon the movie “The Princess Bride. ” I have held onto my belief in true love and have been ridiculed for it only to prove to everyone that it is worth the wait. If you believe in something you should stand behind it and be patient.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “good things come to those who wait. ” You should not settle for less than what will make you happy and keep you happy, at least, most of the time. That’s not to say a marriage based on true love will not have obstacles to overcome, there will always be work and compromise involved even if the relationship is so solid that compromise rarely actually seems like work. No relationship is perfect all the time, but the good times should outweigh the bad. Nothing in life is easy; therefore, anyone who thinks a successful marriage will not take effort is a fool.
Even the most successful couples come across hard times, as life is full of stress and busyness that come in the form of work and family. Children can be a burden; they have a lot of needs. Extended family can be a burden or an inconvenience at times. Most of those burdens are short lived and you just have to think forward and put forth equal effort to come to solutions with a mutual respect for each other’s views on the matter at hand. Doing so builds even stronger bonds than anyone could even imagine.
When you are in love with someone and truly understand that person it becomes easy to gauge when he or she needs you to bear a heavier load. Doing so takes the strain off of him or her without being a burden in this case. This should be reciprocated for if one person is always bearing a heavier load than the other, eventually that person will break. Sometimes this means acknowledging and listening to the other person, especially in the cases of most married women I know who only want their husbands to listen to their rants without trying to give advice.
Husbands I know who do this actually smile at their wives thinking about how adorable they are throughout the ordeal, and reap the rewards later. On the other hand, a wife may need to help ease her husband’s burdens by giving him some time to go off and play ball with his friends or whatever it is that he does to blow off steam. A happy wife and husband make for a great marriage and usually lead to happier, healthier children. Spouses who can see what their partner needs without being told do not feel it is work to help meet those needs. All too often couples enter into a marriage without realizing that it is “until death do us part.
” Marriage is a permanent commitment that is natural to desire and nothing surpasses the rewards of knowing you are completed by your partner. Wendell Berry in “Men and Women in Search of Common Ground” put it well when he wrote: Indeed, marriage is a union much more than practical, for it looks both to our survival as a species and to the survival of our definition as human beings-that is, as creatures who make promises and keep them, who care devotedly and faithfully for one another, who care properly for the gifts of life in this world.
(248) It is okay to not want to be alone, to desire a partner to share life experiences and build a family with. After all, it is much more difficult to build a family alone, although in these times the advances of modern medicine certainly make it is possible. In fact, it is human nature to wish to share life experiences with another trustworthy person. Everyone enjoys sharing a joyful experience with friends, but it is a deeper, more intimate joy when two people are bonded together for life.
If a person has made their mistakes while swimming through the dating world and learned from those mistakes they should have found a balance of needs and wants to help them find a suitable mate. A suitable mate will have the qualities needed to survive a lifetime, by adapting to change and reflecting on the good, helping to create a successful marriage. You will grow old together and should be looking forward to all the experiences you will share and be able to reflect upon in the future.
Building memories and a family together are what help hold a good marriage together, because you can always go back to the strong foundation of love, devotion, and respect that the marriage was built on.
Berry, Wendell, “Men and Women in Search of Common Ground. ” Essays from Contemporary Culture. Ed. Katherine Anne Ackley. 5th ed. Boston:Thomson, 2004: 244-51. Tavris, Carol, “Love Story. ” Essays from Contemporary Culture. Ed. Katherine Anne Ackley. 5th ed. Boston:Thomson, 2004: 240-43.