These nine important keys can help fulfill the desire to live happily ever after once a marriage starts.
Marriage is not a bondage, it’s a partnership. Once you start seeing it like this, you will feel free to be yourself and allow your partner to do the same.
1. Make the commitment. The first and most important key to a happy and harmonious marriage is to decide you want to be part of this marriage and that you are committed to make it work. It does not mean you lose your freedom. It’s more like when you start a new job, you do things differently.
We all have sides that seem unpleasant to someone else. There will be parts of your partner that at times will seem unpleasant to you, but in your decision to marry him/her you made the assessment and realized that the good side significantly outweighs the not-so-good side and that you can live with that.
Keep in mind that this does not mean (nor I suggest) that you are going to stay married no matter how bad it gets.
2. Marriage is a team of two. As in every partnership, the stakeholders have to be involved in the entire process of the enterprise—yes, like a business. YOU ARE A TEAM. You work together in this partnership.
Whatever agreements you come to, make sure you both are okay with them. Not one pulls more than the other one because the one who pulls more will get tired sooner. Equally yoked, remember?
And if there are children, it’s utterly important that you both are on the same page as you navigate through the parenting journey. Children are very smart and know what to get from each parent—no matter their age.
3. You are not each other’s half. You do not complete each other. You complement each other. You are two whole beings with your own personality, emotions, thoughts, and dreams.
You two might work together or separately in your mission for this life, but you definitely support and encourage each other to find the best version of yourself.
We are all unique. That said, accept your spouse as he/she is and stop insisting they make impossible changes to accommodate your nature and insecurities.
The other half you must perceive you’re missing, is due to your emotional baggage. It’s time to start your energetic and emotional healing journey.
4. Communicate often. Most people at work have morning or weekly meetings. It’s necessary for the health of the company. The same is in a marriage. Meet regularly to communicate with each other, not just about the partnership but also about your individual needs, dreams, goals, likes, and dislikes.
As we go through life we continually grow, evolve, and change. When you get to know something new about yourself, and is relevant to the health of the relationship, make sure you communicate it promptly to your partner. Remember, most people don’t know how to read minds… yet.
5. Respect each other. Just like when kids start playing rough and little by little escalates until they are really hurting themselves with either words or physical punches, the same is in a marriage. I’m not saying it will happen in the first discussion, but over time the discussion levels might escalate.
The key here is to learn to recognize when this is starting. So, no judging (out loud), no calling names, no offending. Learn to calm your emotions when they get triggered—they’re nothing but chemical reactions triggered by our perception and expectations at the moment.
Remember to treat her/him as the most important person in the world, because he/she is! I mean, you picked him/her from a group of about 8 billion of people. That must mean something.
6. Don’t go to bed angry. You don’t have to solve your problems before the end of the day. But make it a habit to talk and calm down any lingering negative-feeling emotions—in particular anger since it’s the most explosive emotion. The longer you stay with negative-feeling emotions, the higher the chances you have to create in your mind monsters that do not exist causing you to feel even worse.
The 5 to 1 ratio in relationships, according to research done by Dr. Gottman, is about having 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction we have with our spouse. He was able to predict with 90% certainty which couples were more likely to get divorced when his study revealed during conflict resolution whether this ratio was being observed or not.
So, always consider to repair any disturbance between the two of you before the day ends. And tomorrow, work together to begin solving the problem.
7. Your happiness depends on you. It’s super important that you understand this. Do not depend on your partner to have a happy marriage. You are a sovereign being and you are the only one who can make you happy.
You could have the most perfect spouse for you, but if you don’t feel good emotionally, you are not going to appreciate her/him. This key is about choosing to feel good most of the time. When you feel good, you see the good side and what’s right about your spouse. If you don’t feel good, you will see the unpleasant side and what’s wrong about your spouse.
Emotions drive perspective and attitude. So, before you make any marriage-changing decisions, calm your inner-horses first.
8. Keep hugging and touching. Remember when you and your partner recently fell in love and you two couldn’t have enough of each other? You hugged and touched each other every time you two met. Well, that has to continue.
It doesn’t necessarily need to lead to anything more. Just being next to each other touching arms and legs and hugging is enough. This is very important since the body releases the oxytocin hormone when we touch someone we love in a safe, healthy, and loving way.
Oxytocin is considered to be the long-lasting happiness hormone which, of course, makes us feel happy and stay in-love with each other. So, keep the hugs and cuddling-time coming.
9. Stay in Love. When we feel love is when we are in or near the highest emotional state of the emotional spectrum. That would be in the 70 to 100 range of the Harmony Scale of emotions. When we do not feel the love, we are feeling unpleasant emotions and see the same life from a different perspective—zero-50 range of the Harmony Scale.
When this happens, we cannot appreciate the things that made us feel appreciation and love for our spouse (or any other person). Just rest in the knowing that you do truly appreciate and love this person just the way he/she is but you can’t completely see that from the perspective you have at the moment.
You can repeat this mantra until your inner-horses calm down: “I love my husband/wife very much. I love my husband/wife very much. I love my husband/wife very much.” If by chance you remember the good in him/her focus on that and verbally express it as you appreciate that quality. If not, just stay with the mantra. It helps.
Remember, you are not doing this for him/her, you are doing it for yourself—so you go back to feeling love and other pleasant emotions from the 70-100 range of the Harmony Scale. Once you feel good, everyone around you benefits with your good vibe.
The great marriages are partnerships. It can’t be a great marriage without being a partnership.” —Helen Mirren
Even though marriage is not exactly a 100% happily ever after, consider it a really good marriage if you two maintain the 5 to 1 ratio mentioned above in key 6.
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Image: Claudia LeBaron