Secrets To A Happy Marriage
We’ve all heard that “love makes the world go ’round”, but the history of marriage says otherwise. Today, it’s hard to imagine a marriage not based on love, but historically, marriages were more of an economic and political arrangement and love was not even part of the equation. According to the book “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage” by Stephanie Coontz, the in-laws were the most important factor in a union, as they provided resources, an increase to the family’s labor force, and political clout. But as times changed and the need for the “right” in-laws became less important, love within marriages entered the picture.
Therefore, it’s not a surprise that as times have changed in the modern world, so have marriages. Of all the relationships that we experience in our lives, love and marriage can be the most complicated and take the greatest toll on our emotional well-being. While difficulties like a broken friendship can cause pain and sadness, a divorce can be devastating. It’s easy to make missteps in our quest for the “ideal relationship”, but marriages are as different as the people within them. What works for one couple may spell disaster for another.
History has shown us that it’s a new era in the world of marriage. Today, it’s based on love and equality, so looking at what may have worked for couples in the past doesn’t necessarily apply today. However, there are a few enduring principles that can help modern couples build strong and sustainable relationships:
Work with your spouse to determine what marriage means to you. In today’s world, men and women are coming into marriages as equal partners and aren’t relying on traditional gender roles. There’s more freedom and flexibility, which, while positive, can also cause confusion for some couples. Marriage as an institution with set rules doesn’t apply anymore and it’s up to couples to determine how to build and customize the relationship to suit their unique situation.
Communicate and negotiate with your partner. Since so many social and gender stereotypes no longer apply, marriage in the modern world requires a lot more talking. And perhaps arguing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to marriage author Stephanie Coontz, arguing is vital to help couples come to terms with their unique habits, histories, and expectations for their relationship. And 10 years later, the couples that bicker are less likely to be divorced and are more satisfied in their marriages.
Base marriage on friendship and mutual respect. We’ve all heard that passion can fade over time and have perhaps experienced that in our own relationships. And while crazy, head-over-heels passion may not always last, friendship does. Opposites may attract and mysterious qualities in a partner can be attractive, but shared interests and similarities may be a better measure of sustainability.
Marriage today requires a lot more work than it did in the past. But with effort, communication, and flexibility, the rewards for a happier, healthier relationship can be greater than at any other time in history.