Being committed to marriage as an institution may be the most important criterion for a successful marriage. We all let each other down at times; and during those difficult periods, a commitment to the marriage and the belief that it’s worth fighting for can keep a person in the game.
Communication is vital. The ability to share openly on any subject keeps the relationship alive. This is much easier said than done. How many of us can really say anything to our spouses? Being so vulnerable is never easy, and it takes practice – conscious practice. If you find yourself regularly editing what you say to your spouse, you may ask yourself who you’re protecting and why.
Prioritizing the relationship is also key because the marriage is the most important relationship that you have. This can look different for different people… having a date night on the calendar, creating a certain time each day to connect, finding new activities to try together, getting babysitting regularly, etc.
Protecting the marriage from affairs is not always thought of, but it is so important! There is no relationship so safe and secure that it can’t be threatened. Keeping your eyes open and your heart guarded will help your bond stay strong. This means acknowledging that we will still find others attractive at times – we’re married, not dead! When an attraction to someone you see on any regular basis happens, talk about it with your spouse. There is tremendous power in secrets, and bringing temptations into the open is the quickest and easiest way to deal with them.
Understanding basic differences between men and women can definitely help a marriage. There are probably enough books written on this topic to fill a section at Barnes and Noble. If you’ve never read one, ask your friends for their recommendation and read it together. Be sure to discuss what you read – what you agree with/disagree with, what’s new information, etc.
Knowing your spouse well enough to meet their specific need for love will keep them from having to meet that need outside the marriage, and I’m not just talking about sexual needs. This can mean looking to a mother or a friend to meet a need for encouragement or attention instead of going first to a spouse. Find out what makes your spouse tick and what makes them happy – then do those things!
Finally, I’ll pass on the advice I was given in my marriage ceremony: “Be ye kind, one to another.” Simple kindness goes a LONG way toward having a successful marriage.