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Updated: Sep 2, 2021

When I began thinking about this subject, I asked several people “How do you have a great and successful marriage?” Their answer…… “By never getting married”. Well, that’s pretty depressing that more people are running from the vow of commitment to one person. Recent statistics say that about 2 million people in The United States get married each year.

That's a great start! People still want to partner up, share their lives with someone, live in wedded bliss! The other statistic I found: 875,000 folks end their marriage every year, You all know the statistic that about half of all marriages end in divorce. If only we could interview them to see what went wrong for them, I am sure that they would each have one or a million reasons why. “We grew apart, there is no spark anymore, we didn't have fun anymore”. Something changed from the happy day that they pledged their love and commitment to each other to the day they decided they would rather go at it alone. If you have been married you already know, it doesn't just happen. The spark doesn't just fade, you don't grow apart in one moment. It takes a while. So there must be something we can do to stop the erosion. I was able to speak to several couples who have been married for 10+ years and claim happiness in their union. Here is what they said:

1. Go to bed angry. Some issues make us real mad and can't be solved in a day. You are going to be angry and anger is okay. How we respond when we are angry is the key and that is for another chat, but it's okay to be mad at your partner and it's okay to go to sleep fuming, try not to “accidentally” elbow them in your sleep.

2. Do not try to change the other person. They are who they are, and it's your job to love that person, Celebrate your differences, cherish the person in front of you with all the blemishes that you thought were “no big deal “ at the beginning of your relationship. If someone is loved for exactly who they are, they are free to grow and change and become. Imagine that feeling of being unconditionally loved. There is freedom in that.

3. Develop “your thing;” a shared interest that you do together that you do with no one else. Salsa dancing, movies, golfing…….. The list is endless and it provides a shared intimacy and something to look forward to when everything else sucks.

4. Spend time apart. Develop friendships and passions that involve only you. One couple I spoke with has “their thing” together and separate hobbies. She is an avid runner and he is a mountain biker. They don't do these activities together and it provides them time apart, which is refreshing for both of them. They each support each other's outside passions and on race day he is there supporting her run with water and an “I am your number one fan” T-shirt, and she recently got a bonus which she used to buy him his dream bike. That speaks volumes, doesn't it? I love you and support your passions equally.

5. You are on the same team. I found this idea to be key. Often people start responding to their partner as though they are the enemy. That can only create a hostile living environment and dissent is sure to follow. This person you are sharing your life with is your number one teammate. Imagine Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, Serena and Venus Williams. They might go to bed furious with the other but when they meet up, they come to play, and win! It's hard to imagine one without the other. Together they are far better than they are alone. And that's the point of marriage, isn’t it? To be better together than you are alone.

Author: Laurie Jones, LMFT

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