Part of the beauty of marriage is the lifelong companionship. But with the troubling statistics still indicating that half of all marriages end in divorce, and with celebrities seemingly getting married and divorced like crazy, it’s easy to get nervous about entering into such a huge commitment. Many of us wonder how to keep our marriages strong before we even walk down the aisle.
According to experts and the testimonies of many happy couples, there are a few key things that everyone can adopt.
Listen to marriage advice …
Much like any other life milestone, like having a child, your married friends and family will start offering advice the moment you announce your engagement. And sometimes, it really does pay to listen. You just might hear the best advice you could ever need.
… but don’t take everything seriously
Just like you’ll receive plenty of good marriage advice over the years, you’ll also hear some things that won’t benefit you and your partner. Controversial tips like “Don’t go to bed angry” and “Never flirt with others” may work for some couples, but they won’t work for everyone.
The true importance of communication
It seems as if everyone wants to believe that communication is the key to a successful marriage. And while healthy communication with your spouse is important, experts say that it isn’t the secret to lasting love. So if you and your sweetie sometimes struggle with it, don’t despair. Just work on improving and know you’re not destined for divorce.
So what is the secret to a happy marriage? If you’re looking to simplify all the advice, just do these three simple things.
Key tip No. 1: Keep dating
This seems like something that would be a no-brainer. You marry someone you love, so why wouldn’t you want to keep dating them?
But the truth is, demanding jobs, children, and the stresses of everyday life can get in the way, and before you know it, you won’t be able to remember when you last shared a candlelit meal with your other half. Just because you put a ring on it doesn’t mean you can stop dating.
Key tip No. 2: Pick your battles wisely
No marriage is without conflict, and eventually your spouse will do something that drives you crazy (and vice versa). While no one should ever suffer in silence or keep things bottled up and risk an explosive argument later, it’s important to choose your battles wisely.
But how do you know when to speak up and let it go? Ask yourself if something will be a problem in an hour, or a week, or in a year. Ask yourself if it could affect the way you feel about your spouse. If nothing else, take an hour to cool off and think about it before you bring it up.
Key tip No. 3: Let yourself be vulnerable
According to clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., it all comes down to vulnerability. In a culture that praises people for seeming strong and thick-skinned, vulnerability can be seen as a sign of weakness. But if you allow yourself to be vulnerable with your spouse, Firestone insists, you can make your relationship stronger.
If you and your spouse let your guard down around each other, it will make you closer. After all, you took vows to go through life together, for better or worse.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you and your partner are having some issues, know that you’re not alone. Marriage counseling is often very effective, especially if both people are willing to try. If you’re noticing the signs of trouble, don’t be afraid to reach out.