I always take notice when I am out and I see an old couple walking together holding hands, smiling and seeming to actually like each other. How on earth do they do that? Is it possible to have a happy relationship that lasts the test of time? Is it possible these days or is it a thing of the past when divorce was frowned upon and you put up with an unsatisfying relationship?
I find it fascinating watching these couples interact and could probably be accused of staring rudely when I come across it because it seems so rare these days. Great couples seem to have their own private language going on with small gestures and looks that only they know. Working with couples to help mend relationships, I see so much potential and so much love and yet the statistics show that this does not often convert to long term success.
So, what are the secrets to a happy marriage and a successful relationship long term? I asked a few couples that have a happy marriage lasting between 18 and 50 years, who still really love and like each other (really!!). It turns out that it is a pretty simple formula as to what makes a good relationship.
There were 4 things that came up repeatedly.
If you have read some of my other articles you are probably getting tired of hearing this, but successful couples say this is an integral part of avoiding problems in the relationship. The reality is that none of us are taught how to communicate effectively and so we go with what we know.
Resolving problems in a relationship over many years is going to take really good communication. So unless you are one of the few lucky ones that do it naturally, it is important to take the time to learn how to communicate effectively.
Not sure if you do communicate well? Have a look at your current relationship or past ones and assess them. Were there any issues that were outstanding or came up repeatedly? Did you ever yell and scream? Did you call each other names? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then chances are you could benefit from learning some effective communication.
Sound too simple? Well it is. One of the best relationships that I know that is going on 18 years, is based on laughter. In fact the woman seems to be laughing all day long. At herself, at others (nicely) and at life. Does she have a fantastic, perfect life? No. In fact she has experienced some truly hideous events in her life but she still keeps the focus on life right now. People, including her husband, are attracted to her because she is just so much fun to be around.
This couple have children, both work, have a hectic life, struggle at times for money but they still find life amusing and laugh together all the time. How long since you had a really good laugh with your partner?
You meet someone, fall in love and next thing you know, you are the relationship. What happened to you? The best and most successful relationships are based on 2 individuals who come together and share life but still maintain their own interests.
All of the successful couples I know, allow each other to pursue their own interests and to spend time with their own friends. They don’t begrudge this time apart but see it as a healthy part of their relationship and actively support their partner having this time.
Don’t lose sight of what you like and who you are. After all, that is the person your partner fell in love with.
I can hear the men cheering. This is what separates a great friendship from a great marriage. Sex should be an extension to the natural intimacy you have in a relationship. It is this bond together that can help heal the hurts that life throws at you. It is a time when the focus is just on the 2 of you. And, it is meant to be Fun!!
So many couples find this hard to bring up in counselling but do when they are comfortable. It is a common issue that the woman wants sex less than the man, and she will often say this is because she is just not being satisfied. This usually comes as a shock to the man because she has not said this to him before.
Men and women have different needs in the bedroom but you still both need to have your needs met. Often women won’t speak up at the start of a relationship for fear of offending and then years later it is too hard to say “Hey honey, you really have no idea what pleases me”.
Speak up. Out of all of the couples I have worked with to help resolve sexual issues all of the men are only too happy to finally be given the information on how to please their partner. They want to. Tell them how. Talk in the bedroom. Learn about each other. If you learn how to really please each other, then you are both going to benefit.
Of course there are many other things that help maintain a long-term, healthy relationship but this is the short list as given to me by those that have been there.
If you have another idea of what makes a successful marriage I would love to hear it, so please leave a comment below.
If you are having trouble resolving the problems in your relationship, give me a call on 0468 950 420 or book online to see how I can help you navigate your way to a healthy, happy relationship.