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Yes! Keeping a Marriage Long and Happy is Possible

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How do some couples stay married for a long time, yet remain happy? This is a question often pondered by many couples. While we know the the divorce rate has gone down slightly, the statistics do not exactly say HOW to keep a marriage from divorce. When a marital relationship becomes disconnected it opens a couple up to being vulnerable to divorce. If a couple is high in conflict in their relationship then they will be high in conflict in divorce also, which only means extensive amounts of money spent on attorneys and extreme stress dealing with the constant attacks and hurts. Most people don't think they will ever end up divorced when they marry, otherwise they would never marry. The problem is that most couples do not recognize and make change in themselves, until it is too late. Their are some couples that have successful relationships and even though they deal with the same life strife as other couples that do not do so well in their marriage, the successful couples are able to push through and still love.

Let's go back to the beginning . . . you started out a couple that was excited to see each other and found laughter in the smallest things together. Who was that couple? Do you remember them? If not, it's time to remember them and get to know each other on a deeper level. A level that if you were to play on the Newlywed game show, you would beat all the other players and proudly smile at each other adding one more point in the positive direction for your marriage. One of those newlywed questions that would gain you a point in the positive direction might be . . . "what does your partner think are the 3 most important things to make a marriage successful", and you would know at least two of the answers your partner would say.

What are the important characteristics to a strong marriage?

1) Laughter. There are many couples that used to laugh together and no longer do. Their are couples that used to laugh at each other and no longer do. Marriages that include laughter are more likely to last. Why? Because, when you are able to make light of a situation you are able to let the smaller issues slide. Think about it like this . . . if at the alter we were all given a large bucket and each spouse is told to fill the other's bucket with pebbles (for small issues) and rocks (for large issues), how many years would it take before someone's bucket was so heavy they could no longer carry it if all of the pebbles (small issues) were placed in that bucket? This is extra weight in the bucket. Save the room for the rocks. Trust me their will be plenty of rocks that you have to empty, so why add the pebbles. It is the day in and day out pebbles that build up the most and become so heavy and often outweigh the rocks (large issues). The only option when the bucket is too heavy would seem to be divorce, so they can get rid of the "weight" and move again. Research show that couples who can light-heartedly laugh at the little issues are more likely to last. Makes sense that their bucket would be a lot less heavy. As the pebbles come in deal with them, let them go, and throw them out of the bucket! A funny spouse makes a smile appear many times a day.

2) Empathy. Empathy encompasses many areas. With empathic reasoning a person thinks on behalf of the other before acting. With empathy one is less likely to act selfishly and make a move that would benefit them self without thinking about their partner. With empathy a person will think through the things said. With empathy people are less likely to cheat, less likely to physically abuse, less likely to do something to hurt the other person. With empathy, a partner puts the other ahead of themselves and with empathy a partner strives to make their partner happy. Think about it like this . . .if both people are putting the other first then everyone's needs are being met without the need for either to be selfish.

3) Friendship. This is an important characteristic that many people forget. Your spouse is your best friend. Plain and simple. Most of the time people treat other friends better than their own life partner. Often it is the case friends outside the home know a different person then the real person that your spouse knows. Pretend your spouse is those people and have self control for them like you do for your other friends. Be the most reliable friend your spouse can have. Go on dates even though you have kids. One day the kids will move out and you will be left together. You don't want to be stuck together miserable not remembering why you even dated in the first place. Let's face it their is a reason why you dated and became friends enough to marry and even have those kids. If people gave their spouse the same self control and respect they gave strangers or people they work with . . . .marriages wouldn't end . . .and certainly with not so much hurt, pain, and selfish moves.

This week laugh with your spouse each day, empathize with them, and be the friends you once were.

by: Amanda Wagner

www.tampabaypsychotherapy.com

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