When it comes to a fulfilling and enjoyable relationship, we can use our common sense to tell us which behaviors to avoid.
However, it’s a bit more difficult to call up those behaviors that we should engage in – the small daily practices that contribute to a long-term, successful marriage.
When looking at the characteristics of happy marriages, long-term studies of couples indicate that happy couples share a few key characteristics. These couples weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. However, they did regularly participate in behaviors that gave their relationship a strong foundation from which they could meet life’s challenges. Here are the traits that happy relationships share:
Create “Love Maps”
Picture your best friend, the person you have the closest friendship or familial relationship with. It’s likely that you could easily describe this person’s current stresses and worries, as well as what they’re currently excited about in their life. This is what researchers call a “love map” – the knowledge of someone’s inner world. Working to create a love map with your partner provides a solid base of friendship to build your relationship on.
Express Fondness and Admiration regularly
With some regular frequency, verbally and physically show your partner that you are fond of them, that you care about and love them. This may look different for different couples, but genuine compliments are a good place to start.
Turn Towards Your Partner
“Turning towards” means responding to your partner’s bids for attention. When they speak, acknowledge them with a response. Learn how your partner uniquely asks for attention and decide to turn towards these bids, rather than away from them.
If the first three elements are present in a relationship, happiness and positivity are also likely to already be present. Positive sentiment cannot be manufactured if the foundation of friendship, fondness and responsiveness are not present. If positivity is lacking in your relationship, start creating change by working on your friendship.
Not all conflicts in a relationship can be resolved. Some conflicts continue to reoccur over the years simply because of different needs or values. These conflicts need to be managed, not resolved. Conflicts are “managed” if you’ve reached a place where you can have a conversation about the topic without a lot of negativity, criticism, defensiveness and contempt. Bonus points if you can talk about the issue with some positivity and humor!
Lastly, lasting relationships are built on trust and commitment. Without these two key elements, the practices described above won’t protect a marriage from life’s trials and tribulations. Exploring issues related to trust and commitment can be difficult. Seek out the expertise of an experienced PRO Medical Counselor to assist with that process.
Written by PRO Club