What are the keys to having a successful marriage?

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Answered by: Matthew, An Expert in the Building a Strong Marriage Category
To start, there are way more than five ingredients to having a successful marriage. Each relationship is its own unique entity. What works for you and your spouse, may not be the same as what works for another couple. And that’s how it should be. There are, however, some common themes to any successful marriage. But how you as couple choose to address these is entirely up to you. 1. Listening:

“Listening?” You might wonder, and then ask, “Don’t you just mean communication?” Well yes, technically. But good communication so fundamental to a stable and healthy relationship, that listening, and talking, need to be addressed separately. Respectful listening is something that any partner must do for their significant other. That is, if they really want their relationship to thrive. We all want to feel important. We want to feel like our thoughts and feelings matter. Respectful, sincere listening is the best way to make your spouse feel like they are important. And they should be, especially to you. Real listening isn't always easy. Hearing what someone says, and being able to repeat it back to them, isn’t real listening. Genuinely listening requires you to pay attention to what is being said, and validate what the other person is saying. This is not to say, you shouldn’t give your own input when appropriate. You should, however, make understanding the other person your priority.

2. Talking: Talking is hard for some people, often men. Confronting your own emotions and needs is not always an easy task. It is, however, worth every bit of it. Talking in an effective, sincere way to your partner will greatly strengthen your bond. It makes the other person feel like you need and trust them. Also, it allows you to make your needs and desires known in a healthy way. Talking is the only way to let your partner know how you are doing in the relationship. And a good relationship never becomes a great one unless both parties are working to make it so.

3. Affection:

Being affectionate doesn’t always require hours of snuggling and kisses. Instead, it’s about consistently letting the other person know that you care. Usually, in a nonverbal way. People often say, “Actions speak louder than words.” And they’re right. Saying, “I love you” thirty times a day is nice, but it rings hollow if there are no actions to back it up. This is where affection comes in. Sometimes, affection is something as simple as remembering to make coffee in the morning, or surprising them with flowers, or a simple hug. What counts and works as affection for one partner, may differ for the other. But that’s where the talking and listening come in. Everyday gestures of caring are a cornerstone to any relationship. And go a long way to making sure that both partners really feel loved and cared for.

4. Doing Things Together:

This one may seem obvious, but it often gets overlooked in the hustle of everyday life. Partners might have different groups of friends, or different hobbies, or some combination of the two. Either way, it means that they are spending a lot of time apart. Now, it is perfectly understandable that some people’s work keeps them separate. Either during long periods of time during the day, or for long periods of time. However, a couples’ leisure time should definitely include room for each other. Couples who play together, stay together, as you might have heard. Doing something you enjoy together, is a very easy way to ensure that you two will remain close.

5. Sex:

Sex, unfortunately, is often a point of real contention for couples. It can also be a difficult topic for couples to communicate about, but it shouldn’t be. Sex is too fundamental. No one should be too embarrassed to talk about it. And certainly no one should be so embarrassed that they can’t listen to their partner talk about it. Couples who are sexually satisfied with each other are usually much more secure in their relationship, than couples who are not. I can’t offer any specific piece of advice on how to improve your marital sex life, except one. Talk about it. Communication is the key. It’s going to be different for everyone, but the only way to do something about it is to have a real conversation.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other components to having a successful marriage. But these are definitely some of the most fundamental. You and your partner got together for a simple reason, you love each other and want to spend your lives together. So don’t put your relationship on the back burner. It’s not always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it.

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