Building a Strong Marriage

A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. Dave MeurerEach year, more than 2 million couples marry in the U.S. While most couples say they are madly in love, some really wonder if they have what it takes to make their marriage last over time.

Whether you’re married now or planning to, you’ll want to know about a Life Innovations survey of 21,501 married couples from every state. It identified not only the top 10 strengths of happy marriages, but also the top 10 problems in marriage.

The top 10 strengths are as follows:

  • Partners are satisfied with communication.
  • Partners handle their differences creatively.
  • They feel very close to each other.
  • Spouses are not controlling.
  • Partners discuss their problems well.
  • They are satisfied with the affection they show and receive.
  • There is a good balance of time alone and together.
  • Family and friends rarely interfere.
  • Partners agree on how to spend money.
  • Partners agree on spiritual beliefs.

Additionally, the research found that the strongest couples have strong communication skills, a clear sense of closeness as a couple, flexibility, personal compatibility and good conflict resolution skills.

Strong marriages have a balance between separateness and togetherness. These couples prioritize togetherness, ask each other for help, enjoy doing things together and spend most of their free time together.

Also, some of the common factors in the relationship roles in strong marriages include both parties:

  • Are equally willing to make necessary adjustments in their roles,
  • Reporting satisfaction with the division of housework,
  • Working hard to have an equal relationship, and
  • Making most decisions jointly.

The happiest couples said they were happy with the way they communicate, it was easy to express their feelings and found their partner to be a good listener. They especially noted that their partner doesn’t use put-downs.

Obviously, conflict management/resolution skills are crucial. In strong marriages, both partners say that their partner understands their positions. They feel free to share their feelings and ideas; they take disagreements seriously and they work cooperatively to resolve conflicts.

According to the survey, the top 10 problems in marriage are:

  • Problems sharing leadership.
  • One partner is too stubborn.
  • Stress created by child-rearing differences.
  • One partner is too negative or critical.
  • Feeling responsible for issues.
  • One partner wishes the other had more time.
  • Avoiding conflict with partner.
  • One partner wishes the other was more willing to share their feelings.
  • Difficulty completing tasks.
  • Differences never get resolved.

For example, some common stumbling blocks are when one person feels most responsible for the problem, avoiding conflict and having serious disputes over minor issues. Sadly, relationships with unresolved differences can get into trouble. As a result, stumbling blocks become walls instead of stepping stones to build up the marriage.

Finally, no matter how in love you feel, bringing two personalities and their families together and learning how to dance can be challenging. So don’t just prepare for your wedding – take time to prepare for your marriage. Learn how to build on your strengths, creatively address differences and work together for the best interests of your marriage. It will probably be the best wedding present you can give to each other.

 

First Things First Chattanooga

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How to Have a Long and Happy Marriage

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Mignon McLaughlin

Eighty-seven years ago, Karam and Katari Chand met in their native land of Punjab, India through an arranged marriage. They’re still together and are waiting for the Guinness Book of World records to proclaim them as officially having the world’s longest lasting marriage. Karam says “My trick is to make Katari laugh. I like to tell jokes and make her smile. Being funny is my way of being romantic.”

The couple have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren together. There is an age difference – Karam is 107, and his wife is a relatively youthful 100, but that hasn’t stopped their long and successful partnership.

One of the secrets to their long and happy marriage is that the key to success is looking after each other in every way possible.

“I have been told laughing makes you live longer… my wife is still alive so it must have worked! I love her so much and I want to spend another 80 years by her side,” Karam says.

The couple now lives in Bradford and are both looked after by one of their children.
Katari says that eating right is very important. “When I was young I used to make him a nice fresh meal every night. We are vegetarian so I brought lots of fresh vegetables and made sure he was eating healthy food.

“Health is very important and I wanted to look after him so we could grow old together. Some would say it has worked!

Karam does a word search every day to keep his mind alive. He believes that spending plenty of time together has helped their marriage last.

“We have not spent any long span apart in over 50 years. We go everywhere together – up until a few years ago we went to India every year with the family and for all family weddings we make sure we get to stay together,” he says.

The couple’s marriage has lasted nearly five years longer than that of the current Guinness World Record holders and the couple is in the process of getting confirmation from the company that they will be named as the new record holders.

Both now share their five steps to a long and successful marriage:

1. “Always be faithful: always be faithful to one another. When you get married you commit to devoting your life to that person and even when the times are tough, don’t believe that the grass is greener…because it isn’t.”

2. “Look after each other as best you can: if you want to grow old with your partner you have to make sure you always look after each other in every shape and form. Whether it is making a meal, holding your partners hand when crossing the road or being a shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong.”

3. “Be tolerant of each other: everyone has bad habits or annoying traits. Whether it is leaving a towel on the floor or listening to the radio too loudly, you have to tolerate each other and realize that no one is perfect.”

4. “Listen to each other: the most important thing in a relationship is to listen. People don’t listen anymore because they are too busy with work and TV. Listen to your loved ones’ problems and concerns every day, because then you can help them overcome them and be happier. Also, it brings you closer together because you are the first port of call for each other when there is an issue in your life.”

5. “Follow social and religious values. Respect, care, cherish, love and value your partner – always treat them how you would want to be treated yourself.”

Today’s article was written by Greg Goodsell and is shared from the following website: http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/family/story.php?id=48336

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Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage

Love must be as much a light as it is a flame Henry David Thoreau

Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience — trial and error.

Here are 10 principles of success I have learned from working with and observing hundreds of couples:

  1. Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.
  2. Couples discover the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.
  3. If you do what you always do, you will get the same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude, and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.
  4. Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.
  5. Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
  6. The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth — i.e., someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
  7. You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope — almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
  8. Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” — when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
  9. Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Successful couples have learned to resist holding grudges and bringing up the past. They remember that they married an imperfect person — and so did their spouse.
  10. A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.

Today’s article was written by Mitch Temple and is shared from the following website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/daily-living/keeping-romance-alive/ten-secrets-to-a-successful-marriage

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How To Renew Love In A Long-Term Relationship

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new Ursula K. LeGuin

A romantic relationship is a wonderful thing. Renewing love between couples is often neglected entirely and most will end up separating after discord has begun, before having even tried to reconnect.

The feeling of falling in love is something most will aspire to experience. The subconscious need to make that reviving connection and the emotional satisfaction it comes with has made for the most popular topic of western music at the turn of the century. With love being such a desired emotion we wish to kindle in order to form a committal relationship, why does it so often end poorly with discord and resentment? Whether these issues arise in the newly developed romance or later on, it can have an impact on the mental wellbeing of the individuals involved.

Falling In Love

Professor of psychology, Stephanie Ortigue at Syracuse University, reveals in her study, “The Neuroimaging of Love” that falling in love only takes one-fifth of a second, and once it happens, the emotions it can provoke are just as exhilarating as those that of a cocaine high. This itself should show the benefits of renewing love.

The other quintessential aspect that the experts discuss is the misconception of love coming from your heart, though it may feel so, love is actually developed and triggered in your brain and is the corresponding reason as to why one may suffer from depression at the stake of it failing.

Dr. Farzana Mohideen-Botes, a clinical psychiatrist at the Akeso Clinic in Milnerton suggests the following,

“Sometimes our yearning for idealized love, to be adored unconditionally, to be fully met by our beloved is unrealistic. Our expectations set us up to fail. Often, we demand from our partners that which we needed, and perhaps didn’t receive, as very young children.”

With this in mind the greatest task at hand is to perceive, as adults, what it is we can use to develop our relationships and form those bonds that rationalize our expectations. Renewing love requires patience and dedication from both parties.

Dr. Mohideen-Botes further goes on to explain the key components she believes are essential for a long-lasting and healthy relationship including:

Respect
Friendship
Compromise
Trust
Communication

More often than not, these modules do not come with ease and have to be taught, many aspects of what makes an adult relationship, often come from the inner child.

“We forget that we need to be playing, have fun, laugh and have a sense of humor. Just to be able to play together is really important for any relationship.”

The Key Elements For An Exciting Long-Term Relationship

Intimacy

One of the first connections one often craves with their newfound partner is intimacy, however, it also seems to be the main cause for detachment and separation later on. It is easy to get distracted when a stable foundation in the relationship has been formed, ones daily routine is often stressful and tiring and time can rarely be set aside for reconnecting on a physical level.

Physical touch with another human stimulates the release of your love hormone, oxytocin. This does not only apply to sexual partners, but for all relationships, including that of your family and friends. It is a key component in renewing love for one another.

Dr. Mohideen-Botes feels that this physical connection between loved ones is often lacking and advises them strongly to reform those bonds regularly in order to maintain stable and healthy relationships:

“I tell couples and families to hug often and hug long.”

With life often getting in the way of your personal re-connections, it is stressed that making the time to be intimate is the most effective way to be together. Prioritise it as you would a meeting or doctors appointment. The dates do not have to be expensive, going for a walk, having a picnic or star-gazing are all affordable options that give you the occasion to be romantic.

“It is easier to prevent a relationship breaking down than to fix it after.”

Attraction

A frequent topic of discussion with regards to the attraction between a couple is whether or not like-minded people attract one another or rather those who are completely unalike. It has been regularly debated and analyzed as a theory, and so from there stemmed the commonly used expression today, “Do opposites attract?”

Dr. Mohideen-Botes explains how the answer is within both extremes.

“In a healthy relationship there needs to be enough difference between the partners to keep it interesting, but enough similarities to keep it safe. It’s like the excitement of a brand new world but also the comfort of your well-loved blankie.”

The bases of a stable and safe relationship allow for a platform on which adventure can grow from. Renewing love from that stage can always come with a lot more ease.

What Makes For An Unhealthy Relationship

Once communication and intimacy start to fall away, people begin to feel very lonely with their partnership.

Where healthy relationships affirm us and give us strength, unhealthy relationships break down our emotional security and leave us vulnerable. It is through that means that one will often seek comfort elsewhere, whether it is through an affair or another form of reckless behavior, the consequence of not stabilizing our emotional bonds can cause severe depression and anxiety.

If the relationship does come to an end, being surrounded by your friends and family and having the support will allow you to mourn in a healthy environment, using that time to focus on yourself and work on your own personal happiness is the most effective way to move past the hurt.

“The first thing you should do to deal with and mentally recover from a broken relationship is to commit to a lasting, kind, loving relationship with yourself.”

Renewing Love

relationship | Longevity LiveRenewing love is often overlooked, however, many committal relationships are often worth repairing says Dr. Wallace Goddard, Professor of family life from the University of Arkansas says ,

“If commitment is primarily about attraction for the couple, a helper such as a family life educator might invite them to think about the best times in their relationship. If commitment is largely based on moral obligation, a helper might invite them to think about the promises they have made. If their commitment is based on constraint, a helper might invite them to think about the effects of relationship failure on their family and friends…
Of course, there are some destructive relationships that need to end. But most relationships probably need a tune­up rather than a trade­ in.”

Relationships are a two-way street and communication is indispensable if one wants to reconstruct the fragmented bond. The ability to speak openly with both honesty and trust can allow for each partner to admit to their faults, flaws, and guilt within a non-judgemental environment.

Dr. Mohideen-Bote stresses the importance of a healthy communication platform:

“One may commit the act of infidelity and carries more responsibility, but there were also certain things in that relationship that was out of balance and which need to be addressed. Couples need to be aware that if they want the relationship to continue, both parties need to work on the issue and let it go. An affair cannot be used as a whip every time there is a problem.”

The dedication and time needed in renewing love is a commitment within itself, it requires self-exploration and understanding before it is possible to do such for another. With great persistence, it’s something that anyone can achieve in their relationships and have the lifelong love they often dream of having.

“To love and to be loved in return is a gift that should be cherished. To live a witnessed life with another frail, brave human being demands mutual respect, trust, compromise, and compassion. The best way to learn to love another is to love yourself first.”

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Marriage… Forgiving When It’s Not Easy

When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be right? Linda K. Burton

One Bible story that stuck with me ever since I was a kid is the story about Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who has sinned against him. Jesus first replies with what would seem to be an absurd number of times – “seventy times seven” – and then He follows with a parable about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).

Hearing this story as a child, I thought, “Man, 490 times? That’s a lot of forgiving!” But, that’s the point, isn’t it? We are to never stop forgiving. And Jesus makes the point very clear that unless we forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25)

Forgiving the Unforgiveable

But, you may be thinking, “What if my spouse does something unforgiveable?” Jesus never said forgiving would be easy. But, He did say that we need to forgive, over and over again. There was no caveat that said to forgive only when the other person deserves it or to forgive if they ask for forgiveness. Matthew 6:15 says, “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is serious business.

Unfortunately, I can speak from experience in this area. I was on the receiving end of forgiveness. For many years, I struggled with pornography. This was something that began as a teenager and had progressed into a full-fledged addiction that was present even before Anne and I were married. Yet, it was something I kept hidden from my wife and everyone else. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I shared my sin and addiction with Anne, after much personal pain and confession to God. It also meant I needed to come to terms with some issues of my past.

But, as that heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders, it became a tremendous burden for Anne. For so long, I had lied to her. I had hidden something from her. I had pretended to be something I wasn’t. I was hypocritical. With every right, Anne felt betrayed. How could she trust me? How sad did this make her feel? She was disappointed. She was angry. She was hurt.

Forgiveness vs. Forget-ness

Now, that doesn’t mean she just swept it under the rug and said, “Thanks for letting me know. Just don’t let it happen again.” Forgiveness does not mean “forget-ness.” Being forgiven does not mean that your spouse will just forget about whatever it was that required the act of forgiving. Depending on the situation, it may require a time of healing, a time of rebuilding that trust you once had.

In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says:

Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don’t understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior.

Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly, but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you.1

This doesn’t mean that you can hold on to this like a trump card and play it every chance you get. “Remember that time when … ?” That goes totally against Jesus’ point of “seventy times seven.” Just remember, God has forgiven you more times than you will ever have the opportunity to forgive someone else.

In my case, I understand that even today I am still rebuilding the trust that was lost due to my lack of honesty. But, I also know that Anne has truly forgiven me. It wasn’t easy for her, but I am thankful that she has taken God’s Word to heart by forgiving me in this … and all the other stupid things I do every day that require forgiveness.

Today’s article was written by Matthew J. White and is shared from the following website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/gods-design-for-marriage/does-your-spouse-see-jesus-in-you/forgiving-when-its-not-easy


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