With all of the varieties of personalities and unique tastes in a partnership it seems that finding one secret to a lasting marriage may be an eluding chase. Can anyone really know for sure what will guarantee a happy marriage? Life is dynamic, minds change, and after all, there is free will. However, a recent study is suggesting that there might be a reoccurring ingredient in the happiest of marriages.
Probably more important than information is experience. After all, it is experiences and what we learn from them that make the expert. I once heard a well-informed man say that a wise man is worth a thousand knowledgeable books. That being said, if you are reading this in hopes to gain a bit of insight on the subject of marriage, then who better to get advice from other than an experienced and happily married couple?
What Experts Have To Say
While of course, the success of each marriage is going to be subjective to those individuals, science has done some research and inquired with 468 married individuals about their marriages. The results indicated that above all else, a shared expression of gratitude and appreciation was the most significant quality of a happy and lasting marriage. (1)
The study from the University of Georgia discovered that the greater the expressions were, the less prone the couples were to the negative effects of poor communication, disagreement and conflict. Couples expressed that gratitude serves as a buffer during arguments and lessens the likelihood of withdrawing from their partner. It appears that when it comes to communication, it is better to say something rather than nothing, and even better if words of appreciation are expressed.
Appreciate Everything, Expect Nothing
Expectation is the killer of appreciation. Results from the previously mentioned study also found that couples who engaged in demanding or critical communication led to withdrawal and avoidance. Expressions of gratitude, on the other hand, tend to interrupt demanding communication.
What we focus on grows – if we are focused on the good and the appreciated aspects of our partners and union, then we will find them to grow, and our expectations for more to lessen. From this place, it’s often much easier to communicate.
Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude
So if gratitude is a key to a lasting marriage, how do we cultivate a grateful heart? While it’s all too easy to focus on what we lack, the real secret to developing gratitude is to get a handle on our ability to direct our focus. It’s quite simple but sometimes the simple doesn’t always imply easy – it takes practice. Here are a few ways to shift focus to gratitude mode:
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Establishing a daily journaling practice is something most great thinkers have done. It’s therapeutic on many levels, and something that has personally helped me in many ways.
A journaling practice in and of itself is meditative and cultivates awareness and a clear mind for clearer communication and presence with your partner. It also is wonderful for setting the pace of your day in a pleasant manner.
By focusing on what we admire, adore and appreciate in our lives, we feel more capable of giving. Often in a relationship quarrel, it’s a battle of two people trying to receive something.
However, when we are in our highest state, we are more concerned with giving to others and our loved ones. A gratitude journal can help remind us that we have plenty to give.
For best results, set aside 10 minutes on a daily basis to recollect some of your best moments and anything you can think of for which you are grateful.
Take it a step further and write a detailed list of the reasons you are grateful for your partner and why. Soon you will find a viable life theme of gratefulness.
2. Use Perspective
Often, we are not grateful until it becomes necessary; we’re broke, sick or hungry, and our only option to keep in good spirits is to be thankful.
It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. However, it’s helpful to recall the hard times, and set up an unambiguous contrast in your mind, to see how truly blessed we often are.
Think back to the arguments, financial struggles or stress you and your partner once experienced. If you’re here now, that means you survived it and probably grew. If you can do it once, you can do it again, so be thankful for those opportunities for growth.
3. Count Your Blessings
It’s difficult to stay grateful when we are constantly growing. Growth is an innate function of the human spirit. This can make it easy to forget about the good things we have in our lives, though.
In order to counteract this mindset, consider these questions on a daily basis (you may even work them you’re your newfound journaling practice):
“What have I received from my partner?”
“What have I given to my partner?”
“What troubles and difficulty have I caused my partner?”
Observe these answers as a loving, objective viewer. Do not criticize; rather, see them for what they are, learn what you must, then make a choice to grow in the direction of gratitude and giving.
More Tips For A Happy Marriage
Among the many components of a healthy and lasting marriage, there are a few other recurring qualities that show up. Often times, when long-married duos are asked for their tips to success, a few additional qualities show up:
When it comes to a marriage (or any relationship), the individual comes before the group. Patience is a virtue for those who practice.
Life, especially married life, provides plenty of opportunities to practice patience. Giving space for your partner to calm down, teaching a child a skill, or taking the time to listen and understand your partner’s viewpoint are all prime conditions for cultivating this beautiful quality.
As we develop patience in ourselves, we are able to bring it into our relationships. After all, we can only give what we have. Practice patience every chance you get, as learning to be patient at work will better equip us to be patient at home with our partners. It takes time to truly get to know someone, and the better we feel understood and understand our partners, the happier we will be.
So often we view the world and our partners through our own personal lens. We all have our personal tastes and interests. There’s nothing wrong with that, it makes life dynamic and interesting – if we all had the same taste, there would be no variety in life.
However, we also need to know when to take our lens down and simply see our partner for who they are, as they are. It’s lovely to see your partner as a lover, a wife/husband, and a partner when it comes to marriage. It’s also wonderful to see them for their true selves – a creative and spiritual being with infinite potential.
When a marriage runs into rough patches, the highest solution is to bend – to become flexible. So often our lenses see life in a very rigid manner, and we cut ourselves off from seeing. Take your marital challenges as an opportunity to grow and expand your view of the world.
It’s often easier for us to assume things than it is to find out. We tend to assume what our partner is thinking and feeling.
Sometimes, we go so far as to assume we know how they want to be treated and what’s best for them. The truth is, everything in life is subjective and up to the individual. One of the best things we could ever do in a relationship, especially when in it for the long haul, is to ask questions.
It takes courage to ask questions and hear the truth. Instead of assuming that you know your partner, ask. What are their best characteristics in their eyes? What makes them happy? What is their mission in life, their purpose? What do they want to produce in life? What do they intend to receive in a marriage? What do they intend to give? How do they want to be treated?
The happiest couples are the couples that know each other. They know how to love, how to care, and how to communicate. Asking questions and listening builds trust and reliability.
And if a marriage is a partnership, then reliability is a must. Nobody wants an unreliable partner. So discover what you do not know and inquire with your partner.
What are your tips to a lasting marriage? Share them in the comments below!