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6 Tips for a Happy Marriage
There are endless ways to make a wedding an absolutely joyous occasion, but what about the next day, or the rest of your lives, for that matter? It’s an unfortunate reality that in our current culture many people spend more time preparing for their “big day” than for the “big step” they are taking.
According to a 2002 Census Report, the divorce rate was at almost 50 percent. There is a whole TV network related to all things weddings, but what it seems people really need help with is marriage.
John M. Gottman, Ph.D., psychologist, relationship researcher for 30 years and author of the book Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, has developed rules for a happy marriage. Using Dr. Gottman’s research and advice, we created a list of six tips for long-term wedded bliss.
Nip problems in the bud
According to Dr. Gottman, the average couple waits six years before seeking outside professional help in their relationship. Yet, research shows that 20 percent of marriages end in the first five years. If you are having problems, seek help early on.
Think before you speak
Dr. Gottman says that one secret to a happy marriage is to stop, think and alter your speech to communicate in a more positive and honoring way whenever possible. Couples who do this successfully have a better marital relationship and are happier overall. Try to limit the critical things you say to one another.
Start conversations, not fights
Couples who begin discussions about relational issues in calm, even tones tend to have better results. Try to restrain yourself from attacking your spouse in a confrontational tone when bringing up a problem.
Set your sights high
Couples who set lofty goals for how they will treat each other early on in a marriage tend to stick to them later on in the relationship. To maintain a happy marriage, don’t allow hurtful behavior to creep into your life.
Learn your exit strategies
Couples who have learned how to exit arguments gracefully tend to be happier. Dr. Gottman suggests a 20 minute cool off period if emotions get the best of you during a discussion. After the cool-down, revisit the issue on a calmer level. Learning to stop arguments before they spin out of control can help resolve the issue more quickly and with less damage to the marital relationship. Additionally, showing love to your spouse despite the issue is key in keeping the argument grounded.
Find the sunny side of life
Dr. Gottman’s research found that couples who practiced saying things they enjoyed about their relationship out loud during an argument were happier than those who just focused on the problems.