Marriages are not perfect. Problems will always arise and couples will be tested again and again throughout their married life. It is the way that spouses handle these problems that will either break their relationship or make it stronger.

For couples, especially those who are just starting out, it is important to know the basic fundamentals of a successful marriage as this will help guide them in the right direction. It is important to keep in mind though that making a good marriage requires work from both parties.

In this article I will discuss the 5 essentials steps that make a good marriage:

1. Love

Without love a marriage can turn into a mere friendship. Essentially a loveless marriage is akin to two people living under the same roof and sharing childcare and financial responsibilities.

Although some people choose to stay in a loveless marriage, eventually the distance it creates between the spouses can become unbearable. Many couples frequently speak of “feeling trapped” in a marriage. Often one partner no longer feels any sexual attraction towards his or her spouse and avoids any closeness. As a consequence, the couple might be tempted to look elsewhere to fulfill their emotional and sexual needs.

Love is usually developed during courtship and grows stronger as the couple becomes more intimate. When a couple decides to get married, both spouses should be confident that the love they have for each other is strong enough to keep their relationship together through rough times.

Fundamentally, love is what binds couples and families together and without it the marriage is shaky and can easily slip into conflicts and ultimately crumble.

2. Respect

Without respect, there can be no love. It is the key to fulfilling relationships. For a marriage to succeed, it needs both love and respect. Respect creates an attitude of trust of trust, where you know you are valued, and this attitude must be prevalent in any relationship for it to thrive.

Constant nagging and criticizing is one way of disrespecting someone and creates resentment in a couple, but respect manifest itself in many other ways:

  • Revealing to others intimate details about your couple or family members
  • Constantly arriving late for dates and appointments without offering a valid excuse
  • Partner making fun of you in public and disregarding your opinion when he or she is around friends and family
  • Making decisions on his/her own without involving you
  • Not remembering special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries
  • Not showing respect to your parents and family
    Prying into your partner private things

No doubt there are a many more signs which will tell you when you are not being respected. If during the courtship stage, you can already detect a lack of respect, you should think long and hard before committing yourself to married life.

3. Good Communication

Communication is undoubtedly the main problem between couples. Marriages begin to have problems when one or both parties stop communicating. Having good communication is an assurance that both of you are still connected.

To keep the relationship vibrant and strong, communication should be a two-way street: — share your ideas and thoughts with each other, and listen carefully to your partner. One spouse dominating the conversation and interrupting the other spouse whenever he or she tries to get a word in edgeways is poor communication.

Don’t rely on your intuition or mind reading skills. Ask or tell your partner exactly what you want. Both spouses should make efforts to speak what is on their mind instead of holding everything in.

According to John Gray, author of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, men and women communicate their emotions very differently. Consequently, couples need to found a way to meet in between which will allow them to communicate in a healthy and constructive manner.

4. Sharing

A marriage is a partnership. Everything from childcare to household duties should be shared between husband and wife. In a healthy marriage, spouses share their feelings, possessions and their entire life with each other.

Feelings

Men in particular have a tendency to just wanting to share surface things and are pushed to talk about deeper, more sensitive topics. By being “the silent type”, not opening up and not telling their spouse what they think or feel, many men are alienating their wives. This in turn can create cracks in the marriage as the spouses often end up feeling emotionally disconnected.

Remember, your spouse is not only your lover, but also your friend and soul mate and should be the number one person to whom you can truly open your heart to. Sharing your deepest thoughts with one another will bring you emotionally closer and strengthen your marriage.

Possessions

By possession I mean all your material things and all your money. Moving together and sharing a living space is not enough. Couples need to also change the way they think: “this is mine” should be turned into “this is ours”. When taking their marriage vows spouses commit their life to each other, and this includes everything they own.

Sharing a life together

Although you might be raising children with your partner, to create joy in the marriage you need to actively share other common grounds. This could be a shared hobby, a special vacation or even doing a renovation project together. Although it is fine for spouses to have individual activities and interests, these should not be disproportionate over the time the couple spends together.

Take time to have fun together. Many married couples start out having fun and enjoying each other’s company, but as more responsibilities are placed on their shoulders, they often make the mistake of relegating “fun” to the bottom of the list.

To keep a healthy marriage is important that you maintain your happiness by going out on dates or simply doing things you both like.

Give time for intimacy. Making love is an essential part of marriage. The physical contact is as important as the emotional connection and helps to make your relationship stronger.

Remember, marriage is about pulling together in the same direction. To ensure that the marriage grows, it is important that couples honestly share all aspects of their life.

5. Loyalty

Be loyal to your partner. The famous saying “United we stand, divided we fall.” illustrates this perfectly. A marriage where there is no loyalty is doomed to fail. During rough times loyalty is tested to the limit, and couples who stand united have a much better change to go through their and not fall apart.

Infidelity

This goes without saying but extra marital affairs are a marriage killer. Adultery is a betrayal of the sanctity of marriage and breaks the trust between the partners. Spouses need to remember that they have taken vows to be faithful to each other and as such should respect their marriage boundaries.

Support each other

To achieve marital satisfaction, both partners need to be supportive of each. This is often referred to as “mutuality” in a marriage.

Loving spouses take care of each other’s needs, goals and ambitions. For example, if your partner is struggling in his career, you should help him go through the bad times instead of criticizing him and putting pressure about the finances; or if your wife is tired after a long day of running after the children, offer to cook dinner. Day to day gestures that show support brings the spouses closer and help to strengthen the marriage.

Without special care and attention, any relationship can slip into conflicts and start to disintegrate. The 5 elements discussed above are fundamental to a healthy and thriving marriage.

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