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11 Secrets Couples with a Lifelong Marriage Want to Tell You

11 Secrets Couples with a Lifelong Marriage Want to Tell You

You’ve seen that adorable elderly couple sitting on a park bench or taking a stroll around the park. They’re always holding hands and they look so comfortable with each other, like they’ve spent their entire life in synchronization. If you could interview that couple, there are probably a few major things you could learn about cultivating a successful relationship.

The American Psychological Association estimates that between 40 and 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. That number is a 40 percent increase from 40 years ago, and it’s not looking any better for the future.

Divorce is sometimes the best option for everyone involved, but other times, it could have been prevented if there had been some great role models to turn to in time of need. The reality is that you could be sabotaging your relationship without even realizing it! If you could spy on a couple that has a successful, lifelong marriage, here are a few things you’d notice they do.

1. They tell each other what they’re thinking

How many of your arguments come as a result of poor communication? Contrary to popular belief, being “one” in marriage doesn’t mean that you have the same thoughts. Even those who’ve been married for 50 years can’t tell what their spouse is thinking all the time. That’s why it’s so important to tell your spouse what you’re thinking, without making them guess.

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2. They continue to date each other

If you look back at the days before you were married and compare them to now, you’ll probably notice a significant difference in the attention your spouse pays to you. That’s probably because before you were married, you went on real dates.

Dates are the best place for you to really bond as a couple. You can revert to the days where you were trying to impress one another and make each other happy while getting away from the stress of life, kids, and work.

3. They have children

These married couples will likely tell you that having children was one of the most difficult things they’ve done. They’ll also tell you it’s one of the most rewarding. Children define a new kind of intimacy among parents. Creating a child, finding out you’re pregnant, being a part of the birthing experience, teaching your child to ride a bike, and more are all a part of an amazing experience that helps your entire family grow closer together.

4. They argue with a purpose rather than for the sake of arguing

There are probably a few things that you and your spouse argue about over and over. For example, he leaves his muddy shoes on the carpet, while she parks the car crooked. The list could go on and on. Instead of yelling and complaining without any kind of resolution, argue with the intent of finding a solution.

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Constructive arguing involves asking questions, understanding your spouse’s feelings, and presenting some kind of solution. These arguments end with an action. Try and plan to correct the problem, so that the topic doesn’t come up again in the same negative light.

5. They don’t complain unless they have a solution

“You always leave the butter sitting on the counter.” “You never help me get the kids ready for school.” “You never remember parent teacher conference.” Sound familiar? Those in lasting relationships recognize that constant complaining gets you nowhere. All it does is heighten your anger and increase the likelihood of an argument. It’s okay to vent – just make sure you have a solution for what’s frustrating you before bringing it up.

6. They express gratitude

The best way to avoid complaining is to look for things to be grateful for in your spouse. You could even try documenting these things in a gratitude journal. It might take a little pondering at first, but you’ll soon find that there are many things to be grateful for. Your gratitude can go as deep as, “I’m grateful that my husband never gives up.” Or it could be as lighthearted and simple as, “I’m grateful that my wife picked me up from work today.”

You can also try and take the time to express gratitude for your spouse verbally. Studies show that those who make sure their spouse feels more appreciated have significantly greater feelings of love and contentment than those who go days at a time without saying thank you.

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7. They recognize that their marriage comes first

Any lifelong couple will tell you that your spouse should come before anything else, even a deadline at work, and especially a night out with friends. When you prioritize your marriage, you cultivate an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, which is an invaluable quality in any marriage.

8. They prioritize pillow talk

It’s easy to go to bed at separate times, especially when you have different interests and responsibilities to attend to. But couples who have been married for years recognize the value of pillow talk. They make it a priority to go to bed at the same time, even if it means going to bed later or earlier than you like. The time alone with your spouse in such an intimate setting will be priceless for relieving stress, talking about kids and work, and discussing hopes and dreams. These night-time chats really help develop your relationship – in every sense of the word.

9. They nurture common interests

Most couples don’t have nearly as much in common as they thought they did when they were dating. She might suddenly lose interest in ESPN, and he might suddenly decide he doesn’t like star gazing after all. But there will be some things that every couple still has in common. Successful marriages find the few things they have in common and cultivate a strong relationship through their common interests.

10. They use trust and forgiveness daily

Happy couples rely on trust and forgiveness. These essential qualities silence arguments and revitalize feelings of love and contentment. This is founded on unconditional love and an understanding that we all make mistakes. It is important to note; however, that this is a communal deal. There is a fine line between being trusting and forgiving, and getting hurt. Couples that are willing to mutually learn to trust and forgive each other are the ones that will survive.

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11. They hug each other

Physical intimacy has more pull in a relationship than many people give it credit for. Full body hugs are one of the best ways to feel closer to your partner and release stress. This fact is even backed by science. Hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is nicknamed the “love hormone” because of the feelings it can evoke. So if you’re looking for a way to create greater feelings of love between you and your spouse, give each other a nice, tight hug before you leave for work and as soon as you get home.

Featured photo credit: artisticfilms via pixabay.com

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Larry Alton

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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