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Published on December 19, 2019

18 Pieces of Marriage Advice for a Happy and Lasting Relationship

18 Pieces of Marriage Advice for a Happy and Lasting Relationship

When we were growing up, no one told us that marriage was going to take work. I think most people assumed that you would:

(A) Find someone you are compatible with

(B) Have fun with them

(C) Fall in love

(D) Get married

(E) Live happily ever after…

As we got older, we realized that the path to a happy marriage isn’t always easy. It takes time, attention, and sometimes… a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a healthy relationship.

The number one most important thing is that you BOTH have a commitment to each other and prioritize making the marriage the best it can be.

Many of us grew up with parents who didn’t model a good marriage. Some parents fight loudly, while others just avoid conflict and then silence ensues in the household; neither of these extremes is healthy.

If we didn’t see “how” to have a good marriage growing up, it’s much more difficult to figure it out on your own later in life. So, if you are one of those people who didn’t learn how to have a happy relationship from their parents, you are not alone.

Let’s start by talking about the most important things in a marriage:

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1. Trust

Unfortunately, trust is something that is hard to come by sometimes. People usually have one of two approaches:

(1) I don’t trust you until you prove that you are trustworthy, or (2) I trust you until you prove that you are untrustworthy.

Either way, trust is crucial to a happy marriage.

2. Respect

Both spouses must treat the other one with respect and kindness. That means never speaki ng in a mean or derogatory manner, nor engaging in any kind of mental, emotional, or physical abuse.

You must treat them like the Golden Rule – “treat others they way you would like to be treated.”

3. Friendship

Many romantic relationships do not start out as friendships, but some do. Regardless of whether you are friends first or not, the best marriages are the ones that claim to be best friends. That’s the kind of relationship where each person has the other’s back and are able to talk to and confide in their spouse completely.

4. Companionship

In order to have a healthy relationship, you have to enjoy spending time together.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend 24/7 with each other attached at the hip. But it does mean that you two enjoy doing activities together on a regular basis. They are your constant “built-in” companion.

5. Compatibility

Compatibility occurs on many, many different levels. From personality differences (introvert/extrovert), to hobbies, likes/dislikes, religion, politics, and other values, it is important to be as compatible as possible.

Although they say, “opposites attract,” I believe that similarity is one of the most important ingredients to a good marriage.

6. Love

There are many different kinds of love – from the kind you have to a pet, your child, or your grandma – to the romantic type that makes you fall madly in love. And I don’t mean infatuation, because that fades.

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Being “in love” with your partner does not have to fade. It can, and should, last forever.

7. Kindness

Beyond the obvious (speaking and acting kindly), it’s important to extend your kindness to one another by doing the “little things.”

Simple acts of kindness go a long way. Rubbing her shoulders or bringing him coffee are small things, but it shows that you love the other person. So, don’t underestimate the power of the small gestures of kindness.

8. Sexual Intimacy

Everyone has their own level of sex drive, so it’s important to find a partner who matches your own. Some people don’t need a lot of sex, but others do for both physical and emotional reasons.

Don’t overlook the fact that if you are not sexually in sync, it could be a huge reason the marriage doesn’t work out.

9. Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is just as important as sexual intimacy and compatibility. Even if a couple has sex every day, that doesn’t always mean that there is a lot of emotional intimacy between them.

Without the emotional connection, the relationship becomes distant and cold. So, don’t forget to nurture your feelings and love for one another.

10. Communication

If you have problems (which most couples do), you can’t solve them without talking to one another. And I don’t mean yelling and screaming. I mean sitting down rationally and speaking about both of your concerns. You need to keep that line of communication open at all times.

Here’re some tips to help you: How to Improve Communication in Relationships and Increase Intimacy

Now that we have discussed some of the most important things in a marriage, let’s push the discussion even further and talk about some other crucial things that make a marriage good:

11. Putting Your Spouse as a Priority

Your spouse cannot be happily married to you if they feel like they are a low priority on your list.

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Whether you put the kids, work, your friends, or anything else in front of your spouse, it will not turn out well. You need to make each other your top priority.

12. Spending Time Together

I know life can get very busy for most people, but it’s vital that you find time to spend together – alone. Not that it’s not fun to hang out as a family with the kids or with friends, but that’s not quality time with each other.

Make regular date nights and make an effort to do it all the time.

13. Talking and Connecting

The time spent together should be quality. Sure, you could sit in your living room all alone with each other (which is spending time together), but if you are both on your phones, or even if you’re watching TV, you are not really connecting.

So, don’t forget to talk to each other and keep up that connection you had when you first started dating.

14. Shared Values

As I mentioned above, it is really important for you both to share similar values. That doesn’t mean that you have to be identical, but you do have to view the world through lenses that are compatible with one another.

For example, an extreme right-winger and an extreme left-winger are probably not going to see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues in the world. I think you get my point.

15. Mutual Plans for the Future

Do you want kids? If so, how many? How do you want to plan for retirement? What do you want to do in retirement? Where do you want to live? Do you want to travel?

All of these questions are important so that you can have a shared vision of what your future together will look like.

Next, how do you deal with a struggling marriage? When you are unhappy in your marriage, what are you supposed to do about it? No one gives us a rule book about how to fix a broken relationship, right? So, here are some tips for how you can start to heal your marriage:

16. Talk about Your Problems

You can’t change, or fix, what you don’t recognize. So, talk to each other about your problems – don’t avoid conflict.

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But when you talk, be rational and have empathy for your spouse. Try to see the situation from their perspective, not just yours. I cannot stress how important empathy is to a healthy marriage!

17. Rediscover Commitment

Some people “give up” in an unhappy marriage. They mentally and emotionally just “check out.” But you can’t do that!

BOTH people need to be 100% committed to fixing the relationship. One person can’t do it on their own. So, you need to talk and commit to making the necessary changes for the relationship to rebuild.

18. Seek Professional Help

Many people simply can’t do this on their own because they don’t have the necessary skills. That’s where a trained professional can help you.

Don’t feel like a failure if you seek out a therapist or marriage counselor. In fact, you are the opposite – you are winners for trying your best to save the marriage. It’s a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness!

Final Thoughts

If you are in an unhappy marriage, don’t be discouraged. There are many relationships that have come back from the brink of destruction, and yours can too.

And if you’re not yet married, I hope you will take this marriage advice to heart when trying to find the right partner (or wondering if the one you’re with is “it”).

Marriage doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s the people who make it hard. So, just remember these tips, and you can finally have the happily ever after that you’ve always dreamed about.

Featured photo credit: Alvin Mahmudov via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

How to Deal With the 15 Most Common Marriage Problems 11 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner How to Handle Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship What To Do If You Think Your Husband Hates You

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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