Have you ever wondered what the secret is to a happy and enduring marriage? According to The Australian Institute of Family Studies (2002) the divorce rate in Australia is about 43 per cent. This means that 43 per cent of marriages can be expected to end in separation within 30 years. That strikes me as being rather depressing news for all those newly-wed couples embarking on their own marriage journey, full of hopes, dreams and happily ever after’s. The good news is that long and happy marriages do exist.
My blog this week was inspired by my much loved father-in-law who died last week age 79. He and his wife sustained a happy, loving and enduring marriage for almost 58 years. The family called him ‘Mate’ – a name that stuck when, in a conversation with his first grandson, dad referred to the child as ‘mate’, and his grandson replied in like fashion. From then on, dad was ‘mate’ to all his grandchildren. Listening to the family tributes and reminiscences, I was told a love story about a couple who lived by certain principles to forge a successful and sustainable loving marriage.
These are their 5 principles for a happy and enduring marriage; what I like to call ‘How to have a mate for life.’
1. Never let the sun go down on your anger
Irrespective of the problems of the day, make the choice to apologize and/or forgive your partner. Holding on to your anger weakens your couple bond, nurturing resentment and hurt. When you choose to apologise and/or forgive, you also invite kindness and understanding from your partner. Choosing to be vulnerable with your mate will ultimately strengthen your couple relationship.
One of the exercises I do with couples is to have them each write down their personal priorities and what they imagine their partner’s priorities to be. Sometimes our priorities look the same on paper but when we talk about them, they can be quite different. Where a couple’s priorities differ, you will be pulling in opposite directions – a situation that breeds frustration, resentment, isolation and deep hurt. Working as a team demands that as a couple you agree on your priorities and work together to achieve them, co-operating and not competing with each other. Are you up to the challenge?
Self-sacrifice is not a very popular concept in our post-modern 21st century society however it is absolutely necessary for a happy and enduring couple relationship. Here is an oxymoron: putting your partner’s needs ahead of your own needs appears to be pretty stupid if you want your own needs met, however, the miracle is that when you put your partner’s needs first your own needs will be met. Don’t take my word for it, test it for yourself. In my own experience, I discovered that when I put my husband’s needs first, he does the same for me. Self-sacrifice breed’s love and appreciation for each other, making your relationship grow stronger.
4. Shared values, dreams and visions
In the rapture of a new romance it is very easy to overlook the differing values, dreams and visions. It is even tempting to believe that you can change your partner over the course of time however this is more myth than fact! My parents-in-law shared common beliefs, values and dreams and as Salvation Army Officers they spent a lifetime living out these goals and values. They were of one mind as to the principles they chose to live by and raise their children with. For a strong, happy and enduring relationship, be in agreement with your partner about your values, dreams and visions.
5. Never take your mate for granted
I have heard it said that the true nature of a man/woman is revealed in their dying. By that, I mean that it is when a person is at their most vulnerable, no longer having it within them to protect or defend oneself, that we see the real person. This was so very true as I observed my father-in-law in the days before his final breathe. He never failed to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to his wife, even for the smallest things. He never took his wife for granted. This was the stature of the man and testament to the loving bond that continues to endure even beyond death. Make it your goal every day to let your mate know they are loved and appreciated.
Are you up to the challenge that these 5 principles present? Why not write them down and put them on your fridge for a daily reminder. The practice of making a time each week to check in with each other and talk about how you as a couple are working on these principles, is a great way of ensuring that you keep working together on your marriage relationship.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship to have a strong, happy and enduring couple relationship then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.