The beginning of a marriage almost always contains hope for a full, rich lifetime together. The unfortunate reality, however, is that not every marriage turns into a happily ever after. And even many of the ones that last are perennially troubled. Per psychologist Ty Tashiro, author of The Science of Happily Ever After, only around 30% of American marriages that endure are happy ones.
So what can you do to safeguard your union… and ensure that it thrives?
Maintain open, honest, respectful communication.
Almost every failing marriage involves a communication breakdown regarding unresolved conflicts, pent-up resentment or keeping secrets. Head off these breakdowns at the pass. Keep communication fresh and honest. If you disagree, do so respectfully, and avoid personal insults and attacks.
Agree on your collective financial strategy.
Financial hardships strike even the most prepared couples. A medical crisis, an unanticipated job loss or an investment collapse can stress the relationship, forcing hard choices.
Keep the flame alive.
Amid the day-to-day struggles of jobs, kids and other responsibilities, married couples often find it difficult to find time and energy for romance and intimacy. A romantic date or a weekend getaway now and then can do wonders for your relationship. Remember that connection with your spouse is a key to your marital bond. You might not be able to be as spontaneous as when you were dating but prioritize intimacy.
Make and accept “bids” towards one another.
Researcher John Gottman, founder of The Gottman Institute, has studied marriage stability for over 40 years. One of his key findings is that stable couples respond positively to what Gottman calls “bids.” These are small gestures for connection, such as a comment like “honey, look at this amazing YouTube clip!” or an arm around the shoulder at the park. Those who reciprocate these bids tend to have more solid relationships.
Above all, the decision to stay or leave is always a choice. Through good times and bad, maintaining your shared commitment to one another will always be the best “divorce-proofing” you can have.