What does it take to make a marriage last forever? A recent article written in the APA Monitor by Anna Miller described several studies that looked at this question and offered suggestions. One study from the Research in Human Development, 2012 by Orbuch found that couples need positive affirmations, especially men. Men don’t get these affirmations from other people in their lives while women typically do. I find this to be true in my work and this contributes to a risk of infidelity when people receive affirmations not from their spouse but from others of the opposite sex . Another important factor in sustaining a marriage is the ability to fight fairly. John Gottman, Ph.D., from the University of Washington, published a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, 1992, and found that kinder, more considerate, and understanding traits when dealing with conflict resulted in more success in the marriage.
Both Gottman and Orbuch agree that logistical communication is not enough to sustain a marriage, the conversations need to be deeper, more intimate, and have meaning and purpose. I’m a huge proponent of emotionally intimate and meaningful communication for connection and intimacy. Other research suggests that celebrating success with your partner, injecting novelty and excitement into a marriage, and accepting that marriage is a commitment that requires a conscious effort to sustain increases marital success. In other words, make your marriage your highest priority and work at it daily if you want it to last forever.
Over the years of my practice I have found that commitment, personal responsibility for the success or failure of the marriage, effective communication, and an ability to resolve conflict in a constructive way strenghtens a marriage. The other important components are an ability to forgive, trust, and let go of emotional pain. Lastly, both physical and emotional intimacy are essential ingredients of a healthy marriage. Marriage can be the most challenging relationship you’ll ever experience, but it can also be the most rewarding and fulfilling connection in life. Make the choice to make the love last and reap the benefits.