Have you ever wondered why some marriages last decades while others barely go two years? Why do some couples thrive and grow together while others crash and burn?
The secret? There are three secrets, actually; three ingredients to a happy and thriving relationship. Without all three of these, many couples will struggle to remain connected and committed.
Communication is key for relationship success
Communication is to a relationships what gasoline is to an automobile: without it, you’re not going anywhere. And the better the communication, the longer the “motor” will last.
The words we choose to connect with others are incredibly important. Use the right ones and you generate feelings of love, safety, and security. Use the wrong ones and your partner is apt to feel anger and resentment.
It is often said that HOW you say something is as important as WHAT you say, and in many ways, this is true. When you ask your partner a question, is their answer thoughtful or dismissive? Do they say, “Yes, that sounds like a great plan,” or “Sure, whatever” Both are affirmative, but the first sentence will have a more positive impact.
But perhaps the most important factor of good communication is listening. Many relationships have been improved when one or more people learn how to be a good listener.
How exactly do you become a good listener? Firstly, give your partner your full attention. Too often, we listen to respond and often this causes us to miss vital information because we are actually thinking about our response instead of listening. Secondly, minimize distractions by putting down your phone, turning off the TV, etc.
The better listeners and communicators you both are, the better partners you can be to each other.
Learning to express words of affirmation, admiration and gratitude are also important aspects of communication in your relationship that can improve relationship satisfaction.
Know Yourself and Your Partner
The sad fact is, most people spend more time trying to understand how their smartphone or tablet works than how their own personality – or that of their partner -works. We’re all individuals with unique quirks and behaviors. The more we understand about ourselves and our spouse, the less conflict we’ll experience. Some key things to learn that can improve the quality of your relationship is understanding the love language of your partner (and yourself). Sometimes the way we naturally express love is different from our partner, which can create conflict and confusion about how our partner feels about us. Knowing your preference and your partner’s can help you express your feelings with more intention.
Another aspect of relationships that might be helpful for you to understand is attachment styles. In relationships, sometimes people are more anxious or avoidant than others. This can create conflict between romantic partners. You can learn what your attachment style is by taking this quiz.
Prioritize your partner’s needs and put your relationship FIRST
Happy and successful marriages are the ones where each person is putting their partner’s needs first. When you both make each other a priority, you are both more likely to feel satisfied in the relationship. Problems arise when only one individual meets their partner’s needs. When this happens, one person is happy, the other is left out in the cold. One of the best ways to make someone feel loved is to put their needs first. Small gestures can go a long way. In order to meet your partner’s needs, go back to secrets 1 and 2. We have to communicate our needs and learn our partner’s needs. Similarly, many couples feel they have to put their children first, but prioritizing your relationship is one of the most important things you can do for your children.
If, after reading this, you have become aware that your marriage is missing some of these critical ingredients, don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes an impartial third party can help both individuals get their priorities straight.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Modern Change offers couples therapy in Durham, NC.
Sign up to get blog posts straight to your inbox: