When we saw this list of seven things to make your marriage a success, we were not surprised. The suggestions that came from a research study by Art Aron and his wife Elaine Aron of the State University of New York at Stony Brook are realistic, achievable, and recommended by many marriage experts.
Yes, these are great suggestions. But you can't just print this article and put it on a shelf and forget about it. You both need to commit to these behaviors and make them part of your life together. Accept the challenge to implement them on a regular basis in your marriage. Over time, they can become part of your successful marriage.
Art and Elaine Aron's "7 Ways to Sustain Unions"
- Premarital Skills Training: Aaron believes that premarital education can teach couples "to handle conflict and support each other ... The evidence is that 10 to 20 years later, people are doing a lot better in their marriage. They're less likely to be divorced, less likely to be unhappy." He also recommends marriage enrichment courses for couples who have been married for many years.
- Date Nights: While not new advice, it's nice to have more experts encourage date nights for married couples. According to Aron "If they do it [date night] every week, it's good for their marriage. It enriches and enlivens." We believe that putting date nights on your calendar and not letting other things interfere with that time together show the priority you place on your marriage. Remember to find ways to make your date nights different and you can get the butterflies back.
- Fight Fair: It's one of those "duh" recommendations, but truly, learning how to handle marital conflict in healthy ways can lower divorce rates. If you fight to win or try to avoid conflict, you are setting yourselves up for a divorce. Fighting fair can strengthen your marriage. Knowing when to apologize and how to forgive are also important marital skills that the two of you need to incorporate into your marriage.
- Treat Depression: Even though your own mental health may suffer if you have a depressed spouse, don't think you can make things better for both of you by trying to treat your spouse's depression yourself. "The best thing they can do for the relationship is get therapy." If your depressed spouse will not see a doctor, consider seeing a counselor on your own and that you take care of yourself emotionally and physically.
- Offer Just Enough Support: Giving unwanted advice is not always beneficial to your marriage. "...it's definitely possible to overdo it when offering support to your mate. Sometimes the right type of support is more appreciated than the quantity."
- Create Rituals Together: Another not so new piece of advice, but an important way to increase your marital satisfaction is to share in holiday rituals. While the study focuses on religious and holiday rituals as important in affirming and cementing marriages, we think everyday rituals are just as important and show the love you have for one another.
- Celebrate Success: Hopefully, we don't have to remind you to celebrate and acknowledge your spouse's moments of success. You don't need to throw a party every time your spouse shares good news, but saying you are proud goes a long way to creating a successful marriage. Complimenting your spouse should be a daily activity.
Jane E. Allen. "7 Science-Backed Signs Your Marriage Has Staying Power." ABCNews.go.com. 4/12/2012.