What are the best predictors of marriage success? Researcher Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., in the Early Years of Marriage Project found that positive affirmations made a huge difference in couple’s overall happiness and were also predictive of couple’s staying together. She found that men need these affirmations more than women, since women are more likely than men to get them from others. John Gottman from the University of Washington found that a couples’ ability to handle conflict, and those kinder and with more consideration have more stable and positive relationships. He found that 69% of marital conflict never gets resolved, but how couples handle it is the key to their successful relationship. Communication is another important component, but the content of the conversation matters most. According to Orbuch, the happiest couples share their hopes, dreams, and fears. I often encourage couples to engage in intimate conversations, not just talk about logistics.
Shelly Gable, Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara found that it is important to support and celebrate with our spouse during positive events and milestones. Our ability to share in our partner’s success will enable them to feel better about themselves and the relationship. The study mentioned earlier by Orbuch also found that boredom can negatively impact a relationship. Researchers suggest that couples include novelty, variety, and surprises in their relationships. I encourage couples to create a fun list and randomly select an activity from their spouse’s list to initiate and pursue. Lastly, recognize that love alone is insufficient to sustain a marriage; it also takes perseverance, commitment, and effort. I believe that making marriage one of your highest priorities and taking responsibility for it’s success over the long haul will increase the probability of a positive outcome.
Most things in life that have value and significance take work to attain and sustain. A marriage is no different. The benefits from a successful marriage are plentiful including a longer and healthier life along with a positive legacy for your children. Make the effort, create the time, and reap the rewards.