We've all seen them – the perfect couple that seems to have it all figured out. They're madly in love, have the utmost respect for each other, know how to have fun together and just, well, put you and your partner to shame! Well, we'll let you in on a secret. These couples (if the mutual love and respect is real and not a show put on to impress others) have learned the secrets to a successful partnership. Bev Behar, registered marriage and family therapist, shares some of the essential elements to a strong marriage.
1. Egalitarian partnership
A marriage is about two people coming together as equals – be sure that you and your partner establish a relationship where you both carry equal weight – whether that be in the decision-making process or in accepting responsibility for the quality of your marriage.
2. Flexibility and resilience
Marriage requires an enormous amount of flexibility (and we're not talking about being able to do the splits in bed – although that may have its own advantages!) When plans change, both of you have to be flexible. When your husband calls at the last minute to say he can't pick up the kids, be as accommodating as possible, knowing that he would do the same for you. Always try to respond the way you would want your spouse to respond, if the tables were turned.
3. Mutual respect and appreciation
Sure, you respect your husband – of course you do! But do you tell him? Do you show your wife how much you appreciate her? While it's one thing to know in your heart that you respect your partner, a few spoken words can go a long way towards building a foundation of respect for your relationship. And don't just show this respect in private – be proud to stand up for your partner in public or to say a few words of praise in front of family or friends.
4. Honesty and openness
Don't underestimate the power of honest and open communication. Your partner can only know as much as you choose to reveal -- if you keep your true feelings locked away, it's possible your partner might be hurting you and not even knowing it. Be forthright and sincere in all matters from family and finances to children and chores.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover the importance of fun, humour, nurturing and shared dreams for your marriage on page 2.
What's your idea of fun? Whether you and your partner love to spend time outdoors or snuggled up at home in front of a roaring fire, find time to indulge in the things you love. Can't find the time to schedule a weekend getaway? Try to incorporate a sense of spontaneity into everyday tasks. Who says grownups can't have a pillow fight in the middle of a department store's linen section? OK – well, we don't advise you do anything that'll get you kicked out of the mall, but you get the idea.
They say that laughter is the best medicine and there's something so satisfying about sharing a hearty belly laugh with your husband or wife. Build a home that hears laughter every day -- maybe each of you takes turns providing a "joke of the day" that's told every night at dinner.
7. Mutual nurturance
No matter how old we get, we never really lose our need to be nurtured and looked after. Nurture your partner's wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional. Encourage your spouse to strive for the things that he or she wants to achieve. Be your partner's biggest supporter, their number one fan.
8. Shared dreams
Common goals are important to a marriage. Establish what those goals are and work together to achieve them. Do you both want to retire early? Start a business? Travel extensively? Whatever dreams you share, keep them in clear view, talk about them regularly and develop a strategy (if necessary) for turning those dreams into reality.
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