You can have an amazing marriage that lasts a lifetime.
Smart, successful couples know that having a high quality relationship or marriage requires insight, effort, and practical skills. The good news is that everything you need to know to have a wonderful, satisfying marriage can be learned.
In particular, there are a few basic areas that couples need to focus on in order to have a happy relationship:
1) How to communicate.
How to you express your feelings? How do you ask for what you need? How do you approach your partner when you want to talk about something? How do you solve problems together? Any one of these moments can be opportunities to strengthen your partnership… or have hurt feelings and a fight. When you focus on hearing your partner’s perspective, and communicating compassionately (instead of to “win”) you are much more likely to have a good outcome.
2) Understanding each other.
I don’t have to tell you that people may seem one way when they are feeling another. For example, people often seem angry when they feel hurt. People often seem distant when they feel anxious. In order to have a successful relationship, you both need to “decode” what each other is communicating accurately. So think about the more vulnerable feelings like anxiety, shame or hurt that might be driving some of your partner’s behavior. When you can understand and respond to those feelings, you will have greater opportunity for connection.
3) How to deal with differences, constructively.
All relationships have inevitable conflict. People simply have differences of opinion. But how you handle these moments can make or break a marriage. Every point of conflict is an opportunity to have a bonding conversation that deepens your connection… or that drives a wedge between you. Consider that every friction point is an opportunity for a new agreement. When approached in that spirit, every difference becomes a “growth moment” that drives your relationship forward.
4) How to keep the best parts of your relationship strong.
To shamelessly misquote Issac Newton, “Unless you add energy, things fall apart.” Oh how true this is for a marriage. Staying in a good place with each other, and keeping your marriage fun, positive, satisfying and passionate requires you both to pay attention, and be making deposits into your “love bank.” But what kinds of deposits? When? Why do your efforts to “make deposits” sometimes fall flat? If the golden rule is to “Do unto others as you’d like done to you,” the platinum rule is to “Do unto others as they’d like for them.” In other words, think about what’s actually meaningful and important to them, and then be generous.
5) How to get on the same page.
All couples need to create agreements around big issues like how to handle finances, household responsibilities, sex, parenting, setting boundaries with friends and family, and much more. All of these areas can either become battlegrounds OR bring you closer together and become the very fabric of your strong partnership. Spend time investing in “this is how we do things” conversations and strategies so you both know what your roles are, and how you’re going to solve practical conversations together.
6) How to support each other’s hopes and dreams.
Sometimes couples feel like they are getting pulled in different directions, and growing apart instead of together. When this happens you can begin to feel resentful of each other’s interests and successes, instead of happy, proud and supportive. You can be each other’s number one fan again. More importantly, you can have goals, hopes and dreams that take you in the same direction. Working together brings meaning to your marriage that few other things can. Cultivate the perspective that you’re on the same team.
You can LEARN how to have a better relationship.
If these pointers remind and inspire you to do what needs to be done in order to have a better relationship, then my work here is done.
But if you’re reading through these tips and thinking “Yeah, that sounds great, but I / we don’t know how to to that…” then consider investing in “relationship education.” The truth is that all these are relationship skills that can be learned.
Starting on Monday March 30th Growing Self is proud to offer “A Lifetime of Love” which is a six week relationship class designed to teach you both these strategic skills. We originally created it for premarital couples but found that many established couples benefit from it so enormously we decided to open up to everyone that wants to improve their relationship.
This is a fun, lighthearted, and smart class that gets right to the point about what you need to do to have a better relationship. You’ll leave every class with new experiences, ideas, and skills that you can start practicing right away.
The next session of Lifetime of Love starts Monday March 30th at 6pm, at our Cherry Creek location. The class is taught by our resident relationship expert Meagan Terry. The class meets every Saturday for 6 weeks and is only a fraction of the cost of private marriage counseling. Click here to learn more about the best relationship class in Denver, and register online. Space is limited!