Why do some marriages ride the waves of adversity with ease while other partnerships become mired in one contentious battle after another? If the answer was simple, the US divorce rate would not be hovering around 50%. Relationships require time and effort to be successful. Many people lack the patience or the dedication that is necessary and also fail to recognize the 9 essential elements of a harmonious marriage.
Commitment. From the wedding ceremony onward, couples need to remain committed to their relationship. Common goals need to be discussed and agreed upon with the underlying understanding that nothing is permanent. Some initial plans may need to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances. Even though the goals may change over time, the couple needs to remain faithful to their shared values.
Ongoing Dialogue. It is impossible to agree with anyone 100% of the time. Recognizing this fact is required for a healthy partnership. Keeping that in mind, it is critical for couples to be able to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal. The ability to talk out differences and reach compromises are two fundamental principles that cannot be disregarded. When two people fail to communicate effectively the marriage will become overly combative.
Celebrations. Appreciate life by taking time to enjoy special as well as ordinary moments. Day excursions and longer trips provide wonderful ways to step away from one’s day-to-day life. Milestones and life cycle events should not be forgotten. The memories created by such events strengthen a marital relationship. Having future events to look forward to also increases the bond between partners.
Compassion. By exhibiting empathy, partners are able to reaffirm their love for another. When times are tough due to injury, sickness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or another challenge, spouses need to support one another. If your spouse isn’t in your corner, who is?
Tenderness. Physical attraction usually pulls two lovers together. However, these passions may ebb and flow as the years go by. Pregnancy, babyhood, and later menopause can become temporary obstacles to a fulfilling love life. Finding time to touch one another and embrace should be encouraged during these more challenging moments. The closeness derived from these tender moments is crucial for a long lasting marriage.
Respect. Learning to live with another individual is a challenge because it is inevitable that there will be points of contention. Recognizing the other person’s viewpoint and valuing their opinion will strengthen the relationship. Being able to accept a spouse’s differences will make it easier to respect individuality.
Flexible. Life includes many unpredictable moments- both positive and negative. Couples need to realize that few things in life will occur exactly as planned Rebounding from these obstacles and not becoming entangled in an unforeseeable event requires flexibility. Like a slinky slithering down an uneven staircase, partners need to have added springiness when they encounter a steeper step. Additionally, when the partners do not share the same opinion, sometimes it will be necessary to reach a compromise. The relationship needs to be flexible. Both parties must be willing to meet one another halfway.
Humor. Making light of certain situations will generate humorous comments. Taking time to laugh together can be therapeutic. It can take the edge off of tense and stressful moments. However, making jokes at a partner’s expense should be avoided. No one ever likes to be the brunt of someone’s jokes.
Forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes that can cause hurtful feelings. Acknowledging one’s shortcomings and expressing remorse for poor decisions will provide another layer to open communication and mutual respect. I disagree with the message advocated by one popular 1970s movie. It dismissed the importance of an apology. Saying your sorry with compunction goes a long way to mending hurt feelings.
After 38 years of marriage and 32+ years of motherhood, I have experienced both ecstatic moments as well as disappointing events. Maintaining an even balance throughout and striving for a harmonious marriage has been my objective. Recognizing that there were at least 9 essential elements to follow, I needed to remain determined. Harmonious marriages are a byproduct of patience and commitment rather than luck.
Sandra Bornstein celebrates her 38th wedding anniversary this week.
My memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.