As much as we all want a long lasting marriage, not all relationships today come with a lifetime guarantee. Anyone who has been in a couple of failed relationships will agree that finding an “ideal partner” can be a long and painful process, far from our unrealistic expectations fed by romantic movies and TV shows.
The truth is: not everyone can be perfect all of the time. We all have flaws and weaknesses. We are going to disappoint our partners at some time or another. But the real question here is how much do you love the person to keep the relationship going? How do you know if they’re the person who’s going to make you happy for all of your life?
According to Dr. John Gottman, author of the book The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, creating a lasting marriage is surprisingly simple. Gottman says, “Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive ones.” This is what makes most marriages last and what separates happily married couples from the multitude of couples who stay married just for their kid’s sake.
So, what are the actions and values in a couple that are good predictors of marital happiness? Read on to find out.
1. How You Show Gratitude
Are you someone who can easily say “thank you” to your spouse? Does your spouse do the little things that matter, like opening the door or buying you flowers? How frequently you express gratitude can have a powerful impact on your relationship.
According to a recent study published in the journal Personal Relationships, the secret to having a better marriage is to show gratitude. Research conducted at University of Georgia used a telephone survey where 468 married couples were asked about their communication, finances, and how they express gratitude with their spouses. The study’s result emphasizes how spousal gratitude is the most consistent predictor of marital quality. Couples who express gratitude more often were less affected by common marital stressors such as miscommunication, financial issues, and in-law problems.
2. Your Ability to Compromise and Admit Mistakes
In any relationship, there is bound to be fights and misunderstandings. The couple who knows how to apologize always has the best chances of keeping their marriage intact. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of loss; in fact, the ability to compromise for the other is a proof of love.
According to Bill Farr, author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships, a couple’s ability to compromise and give up their pride defines their relationship. If both partners are able to see that they’re not always right and become more accepting of each other’s mistakes, their marriage will prosper. Sure, romance and passion create memorable moments, but it is always compromise and respect that actually keeps the two of you together.
3. The Tone of Your Voice
The phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” might seem cliché when we talk about marital issues, but when it comes to communication, the tone of your voice holds as much weight as the words you use when addressing your partner in an argument or a discussion. Experts believe that how you talk and discuss problems with your partner has important implications on the health of your relationship. Because it’s not just what words you use to converse problems with your partner that counts, how you deliver them is also important.
This underlying notion has helped a group of researchers create a new computer algorithm that can predict an outcome of marriage based only on the tone of voice couples use when speaking to each other. The algorithm has a remarkable 79% accuracy and did a better job predicting marital success compared to relationship experts. The algorithm can assess the couple’s speech by breaking the recordings into acoustic features and using speech processing techniques, such as looking at the pitch intensity and warbles in voice that could indicate emotions.
4. How You Spend Leisure Time
Couples who often spend leisure time with each other have the best relationships. If you’re someone who’s happiest when with your partner, that is a good sign of marital happiness.
In a study involving 250 married couples, results found that the best predictor of marital satisfaction was the amount of time spent alone with the spouse. Wives who spend most of their time with their husbands were the happiest. Happier couples are people who are determined to spend time together despite their varying interests in hobbies or constraints like kids and work. Sometimes it’s just not the amount of time you spend together, but also the quality.
5. How You Give Your Attention
How long do you need to get your spouse’s attention when you call them? If most of the time they respond back to you immediately, it’s a good sign. If; however, they always seem uninterested and require you to repeat or say something incredible just to make them interested – watch out! A partner who doesn’t value and give attention to their spouse can cause the marriage to wane and go down the drain.
As Tony Robbins says, “Relationships magnify the experience of life.” If we don’t take part and give value to our relationships, we might lose important life experiences that could give way to a happier and more fulfilling marriage. Couples who have real connection don’t have to bid for each other’s attention. They have overflowing amounts of it to give each other with no hesitance or waiting for the other to respond.
6. Your Acceptance
In the first stage of couple relationships, most of us (if not all) see our partners in their best light. We are always love-struck, filled with romance and lust. However, as years go by, you will see their imperfections. All those throes of passion will diminish by time, as our object of romantic focus will fail to keep up with our expectations.
Then again, a happy marriage is not about being wed to the perfect guy or girl – it is to be wed with a person whose weaknesses you accept and see beyond. A happy marriage is about expecting nothing but love in return. When we learn to accept ourselves, it’s too easy to accept our spouses as well. Loving then becomes effortless because it stems from within you.