I have good news about your marriage, and mine too! I read a study that said if couples can stay married for 35 years or longer, the negativity husbands and wives can feel towards each other fades, leading to less stressful and happier marriages. So I started thinking…why not apply those keys to a successful marriage, these habits developed over time, today instead of waiting for them to evolve decades later?
Here are the 4 marriage secrets from the study we can bring into our married life so that we can experience stronger marriages now.
1. More humor
The couples in the study learned to laugh at themselves as a couple. Instead of getting irritated about their spouse’s irksome habits, they put them in perspective, realizing that in the big picture things like bandaid wrappers left all over the bathroom floor aren’t a big deal. Couples also laughed at their relationship quirks instead of getting discouraged about them or trying to fix them.
Let’s lose the seriousness and lift the levity. Before you get angry at your husband, see if you can put a humorous spin on the situation.
2. More affection
The funny part of the study is that women actually became more domineering as the years went on (perhaps that’s another topic for another day!), but couples still felt happier overall. Part of the reason is that, as a whole, couples grew more affectionate. As we age, we realize the brevity of life and that holding a grudge against our husband or withholding love is a waste of time.
So I’m going to choose to show more affection toward my husband and let him know I cherish him with small gestures each day.
3. Less criticism
We all know that criticism isn’t very effective at changing people—especially our husbands. Encouragement works better. Kind suggestions work better. Accepting our husband for who he is, works better.
If you do want to talk with your husband about something that he does that bothers you, do it lovingly, and do it before you get so irritated that you lose your temper and say things in a way that’s hurtful.
4. Less defensiveness
Early in my marriage, I took every “tip” or request from my husband as an insult to the way I was doing things. In other words, I was very defensive. Older couples learn how to take things less personally. A good rule of thumb to remember is “intent, not impact.” When I feel attacked I try to give my husband the benefit of the doubt–was he really trying to hurt me or am I putting a negative spin on what he said?
Ultimately, I think these long-married couples had a mature perspective on marriage and their spouses.
Tell us! What can we do today to get to that point well before our 35-year anniversary?