Here’s the recipe for a long and happy marriage

Unhappy couple

Couples must protect their time together from the pressure of childrearing.

Photo credit: Igah | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Your spouse doesn’t just want companionship, he or she also wants lasting passion
  • Couples in successful marriages recognise what they can’t change in each other and let go.

We all marry in such hope. But even Michelle Obama recently confessed that ‘there were years where I couldn’t stand my husband.’ It was while her children were young, of course.

Most couples struggle when their kids are small, and as Michelle Obama said, “Marriage isn’t 50/50, ever’ and ‘Little kids are terrorists. They have demands. They don’t talk. They’re poor communicators. They cry all the time.”

So much so that couples must protect their time together from the pressure of childrearing.

So what else have couples as successful as the Obamas learned to do?

They’ve learned that it’s normal to fight, and that you can’t always fix arguments before bedtime. So they develop the skills to make up and feel close again.

Successful spouses

They’re proactive, and recognise what they can’t change in each other. But they still fight about the rest.

Arguing, feeling disillusioned, and then finding a better understanding is how relationships grow. And what they can’t change they let go. And don’t walk around like resentful victims.

They’ve learned to be completely honest with each other. How else can you get what you want?

Successful spouses identify what they need, stand up for it, and negotiate. Without giving each other a hard time. Or telling anyone else. Because without confidentiality and kindness, honesty slowly fades away.

Couples don’t just want companionship, they want lasting passion. But if you want a lifelong lover, you have to be a lifelong lover! And talk about sex. Negotiating, throughout your lives, to ensure you meet each other’s needs. Because good sex, lots of it, is what holds relationships together.

The happiest couples take fun seriously, because you can’t stay angry when you’re laughing.

Physical affection

And happy couples stay curious about each other. They know they don’t really know what’s on each other’s minds and so they ask. Anything less, and you gradually lose your connection.

Some couples have 40-year long arguments: ‘You’re a terrible driver!’ ‘You’re too sensitive!’ But you can be right, or you can be married. Who’s right is irrelevant. Because some conflicts are rooted in fundamental differences in personality and can’t be resolved. Successful couples learn to accept their differences and turn them into strengths.

Successful couples understand that physical affection is good for their relationship. They touch a lot more than unhappy couples, but in briefer and non-sexual ways. They’re sensual, spend a lot of time together, eat together, and prepare for bed together. They sit and sleep closer together than less successful couples.

Above all, successful couples realise that getting married means a fundamental shift in your viewpoint. From the single’s ‘Me’ to a couple’s ‘We.’ They still have their own friends and interests, but they do the fundamental things as if they were one person instead of two.

There’s a change of perspective to a determination to solve, together whatever life throws at them. And a deep feeling that come what may, they’ll always be together.