According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40 to 50 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce. With such bleak statistics, it's understandable why everyone is constantly on the prowl for relationship hacks. Clearly they're all looking for the perfect remedy to longevity and happiness - and we can't say that we blame them.
So in a quest to guide couples who are thinking of tying the knot or who are already married, we tapped relationship expert, Emily Morse, for her advice.
How do you ensure a healthy marriage and wedded bliss?
This is what she had to say...
It DOES Take Kindness And Generosity
A recent Business Insider article revealed successful relationships come down to two mere things: kindness and generosity. And even with scientific evidence to back up their claim, we had to ask Emily her thoughts on that revelation.
"I believe that kindness and generosity are cornerstones of any relationship, especially romantic," she shared. However, there's a lot more to it than that.
"Relationships take work because we put a lot of pressure on our partners to fulfill all of our emotional needs," Emily went on. "It’s not realistic that one person can fulfill all of our needs but it’s not unreasonable to expect our partner to be respectful of our emotions." AMEN to that.
All in all, we don't know any relationship that can withstand selfishness and an unpleasant dynamic. No one wants to be miserable with the person they love. Seriously.
The Most Common Mistake Married Couples Make
Anyone who has been in a committed relationship knows it's a case of trial and error (read: plenty of tears and empty bottles of wine). You'll both make plenty of mistakes and in marriages it's no different. According to our expert, the most common mistake spouses make is communicating ineffectively.
When couples don't properly express issues and concerns, that leads to them choosing to, "Bury or push aside the issues with hopes they will just ‘go away' on their own." The reality? It WON'T just go away. In fact, a lack of communication will only garner resentment and "diminish the strength of the relationship".
It's important to ensure you build those skills early on to ensure the union is healthy enough to withstand life's many challenges.
Discuss Expectations BEFORE Walking Down The Aisle
Since they say prevention is always better than the cure, we thought couples should take some preliminary action to help secure a happy marriage. Emily agreed.
"Before couples walk down the aisle for a life of supposed wedded bliss, they must first discuss their expectations for the marriage and for each other," she began. "Talk about how you’re going to deal with conflict, make sure you’re with someone who can say 'I’m sorry' and that you discuss whether or not you want children, where you want to live, and your common goals for marriage."
While this might sound standard to some, you'd be surprised at how many people jump into situations without having properly discussed these important essentials. Emily even likens it to starting a business with someone, and "if you don’t have a plan or the same vision you better figure these things out ahead of time, before saying “I do”.
Avoid Having To Be "Right"
Stop keeping a scoreboard and trying to one-up your partner. You're supposed to be a team, not enemies.
However, when issues don't resolve themselves, Emily recommends seeing a therapist and not being afraid to do so. "Therapy has saved many relationships and I’ve never known of a couple that did not benefit from it when they chose to get some outside help." She even suggests going even when things are great between the two of you.
"It’s often the best time to go to therapy. When you’re not in crisis mode you can learn to improve upon the foundation that you’ve already built."
So yes, not only does it actually work, it's beneficial when times are good AND bad.
Rough Patches Are Inevitable
In case you were blissfully unaware, there's no such thing as 'perfect'. You'll eventually face hard times with your partner. Honestly, it's all about making sure you come through on the other side better than ever. That starts by making sure you address the issues head-on as they arise.
"Often if couples are trying to make a big decision, it’s important to take emotions out of the equation and work together on rational decision making," says Emily. "If the rough patch isn’t getting any better, couples shouldn’t hesitate to seek counseling to help them through it."
Ahem, back to that point we made about therapy earlier.
Sex Keeps The Relationship Going
That's right. Some good old loving will do your marriage plenty of good.
"Sex is the glue that keep relationships together. Without it, you simply become roommates, " says Emily." So many couples let sex fall by the wayside when life gets challenging with work, children, and exploding daily ‘to do’ lists. The problem is, when it slips too far it can be very hard to get it back on track."
And don't ever think that the sex is just for him, it's all a part of maintaining your vitality as a woman as well. Learn to cater to each other's needs, even when life gets hectic.
Marriage is a commitment that definitely shouldn't be taken lightly. Make it your duty to take time out to really appreciate each other for who you are and not who you wish the other person could be. Forget potential, value the reality of their being.
Lastly, work as a team to not only build a bond, but to secure a fruitful and blissfully happy future.
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