IF YOU WANT TO LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, NOTE THIS THINGS DOWN!

Aged couple checking phones
A wedding is for one day. Your marriage is (hopefully) forever.

Before getting a marriage license, people must learn how to do the high-skills activity that partnership requires. Otherwise, couples are at risk for intense fighting and launching a marriage that's at risk from the outset. 

Multiple research projects have clearly established that couples who learn marriage skills have the highest odds of enjoying a long-lasting and gratifying partnership. If you're spending time and energy on a wedding, it makes sense to ensure that the marriage that follows will be a successful one.

NEVER THREATEN DIVORCE

The best way to undermine your marriage is to take an ambivalent stance. Never, ever threaten to leave a relationship you want to be in. This is the most important of all. Even if, at the moment, you feel like leaving—don’t trust that. Your relationship is not a bargaining chip. The people who fight well are those who fight for their relationship, not against each other. And the ones who succeed are strapped in for the ride. They are there to stay, and they make sure the other person knows it. The decision to be in a committed, secure, and loving relationship means being in the foxhole together, protecting each other from the dangers out there. It’s not about just getting your way. You are supposed to have each other’s backs.

REMIND YOURSELVES WHY YOU ARE THERE

It is important to keep revisiting why you got married in the first place. As you evolve, the context of your marriage has to evolve as well. Marriage is a path to becoming who you are, but it’s rigorous, uncomfortable and painful. If you don’t share a core understanding of your purpose together, you will be frustrated because your experience doesn’t match the fantasy of marriage you were sold. If one person doesn’t want to grow, then your relationship will limp along with your whole life.

LISTENING

Shouting is often a response to an absence of listening. Sometimes one person in the argument starts repeating things and getting madder and madder. That’s a sign that they don’t feel heard. If people start quietly and then escalate by raising their voice, it’s an indicator to stop and ask ‘What am I not hearing?’

APOLOGIZE FOR A SPECIFIC THING

Acknowledge very specifically the impact of your behavior. For example, you could try saying, “an hour ago, when I raised my voice I could see how that upset you. I need to own and acknowledge the impact of my actions”, rather than just use I’m sorry as a get-out-of-jail-free card. Simply apologizing just doesn’t cut it (especially if you really messed things up in your relationship). To unclench your partner’s nervous system they need more than just a “sorry.”

FIGHT WELL

Fighting is inevitable. You need to learn to how to navigate challenge and adversity in your marriage or you won’t make it. You can’t have a marriage without fighting. Whenever your values are challenged you are going to fight. But you can learn to communicate what you want in terms of what your partner wants and cares about. That will help you get what you want and create a win-win, which is always the goal.

GIVE UP THE NEED TO BE RIGHT

As the saying goes, “you can be right or you can be in a relationship”. Repair works better than reasoning. If you’re really being honest with yourself, you can’t know for certain that you’re completely right anyway. Human communication is terrible, even on a good day. Our memories are deeply flawed. And our perceptions play tricks on us all the time. However, in the game of love, perception must be viewed as reality. Reasoning someone out of their perception is a losing battle. Rather than argue their perception, fix it. Repair. This is how you keep your relationship.

RELYING ON EACH OTHER

Being willing to let your partner be a source of emotional support can strengthen your bond. Depending on each other is not only OK, but it is also essential to having a thriving marriage. Don’t be afraid to need each other, ask a lot of each other, and to utilize each other fully. This is the one relationship where you both can ask and give whatever is needed and wanted, freely. And more will be possible in your life individually and together because of that. When your partner freaks out, you need to be the stable, relaxed nervous system that they can calm down and attune to. The couples that do the best know, how to self-regulate as well as interactively regulate. They become a safe place for each other to land.

PROVIDE RELIEF

If your partner feels hurt by you, misunderstood by you, or otherwise is upset with you, it would be wise to provide quick relief as your first response. Any delay will cause you trouble. You may want to explain yourself, defend yourself, double down and hurt them again, or simply fail to respond. Any of these will cause your partner to feel legitimately threatened by you. Just like you, they want relief now in the form of acknowledgment or an apology. Even though you will have the opposite urge, save your explanations for later when your partner is visibly relieved. Then, and only then, is it safe for you to tell them your real intention?

UNDERSTANDING WEAKNESSES

For a marriage to be able to go the distance, you need to know your partner’s vulnerabilities.

Being tender instead of overly judge-y—with each other’s wounds is key to developing a secure-functioning relationship. You should know your partner’s kryptonite; the one or two things that will render your partner powerless, disabled, or just on tilt. That’s because, if your partner is afflicted by their kryptonite you need to know what to do to help them.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the authors, but it should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
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