While no two marriages are the same, research shows that all happy, long-lasting marriages share the same five basic traits: communication, commitment, kindness, acceptance, and love.
5 Traits Of A Long-Lasting Marriage
There are a lot of good articles on this subject that are loaded with statistics and research — so why am I writing another one? Because I’m living the premise, proving the standard, and have something of my own to add. I’ve been happily married once — and celebrated my 56th wedding anniversary in 2020.
The first question you should ask me is why the title doesn’t say, Marriage Can Last a Lifetime — If You Know the 5 Basics — Plus 1, but instead, it says ‘Love’ Can Last a Lifetime.
The answer is simple. No one wants to live for fifty or more years in a marriage without love, no matter how efficiently it operates. (And for the purpose of this article, marriage is the union of a female and male, a heterosexual pairing.)
So the advice I’m going to give focuses on building a true bond of love that will facilitate the desire for a long and happy marriage. Let me give you my opinion on the five basics as mentioned in the opening link: communication, commitment, kindness, acceptance, and love.
When thoughts and feelings flow smoothly between marriage partners it’s fun
Love — basic #1
“True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.” — Ricardo Montalban
I support and agree wholeheartedly with the above quote. True love is built over time. So — that creates a circle, doesn’t it? Without time you can’t obtain true love and without true love (in this case, the commitment to reach that level) you won’t spend the time.
Understanding the type of love that begins a lasting marriage and another kind that will exist at the end of that marriage, is fundamental to success. Most marriages happen when a couple experiences an extraordinary sexual attraction paired with a special camaraderie. That blissful and desperate feeling that you can’t live without this person by your side is the beginning of what each person hopes will be a long and happy marriage.
But the truth is, the extraordinary sexual attraction paired with a special camaraderie will fade in intensity, change over time, and die without the — understanding and application of the other four basics: communication, commitment, kindness, and acceptance.
Takeaway — The passionate and all-consuming love that drives a relationship toward marriage will change over time. How that change will happen and the end result will depend on how you understand and apply the next four elements of a successful and loving marriage.
Commitment — basic #2
“…It’s not just that I like the relationship, which is true, but that I’m going to step up and take active steps to maintain this relationship, even if it means I’m not going to get my way in certain areas…” What Does Commitment Mean In A Marriage?
Modern marriage is begun with promises and vows. Sad to say, in the US, 39% of those end in divorce. And research says that number would be much higher except for the fact that a large majority of couples simply live together without the commitment of marriage.
Takeaway — Over time and with many life-lessons learned, I came to realize that commitment to marriage was the cornerstone. Mindset and attitude are the foundation of commitment. If marriage is seen as permanent from the beginning, with no loop-holes, no escape routes, and no returns, then only a fool would take it lightly. On the other hand, a smart person would learn to strengthen and beautify the relationship so they and their partner benefited as much as possible.
Mindset and attitude are the foundation of commitment
Acceptance — basic #3
Once we completely accept our beautifully flawed human spouse for who they are, marriage becomes so much easier. We don’t have to agree on every last thing because it is OK to have different opinions. ~Acceptance: The Key to a Happy Marriage
No one is perfect. No one can do or say the right thing all the time. No one can completely live up to another person’s expectations. Understanding and acknowledging this before marriage is crucial. It puts reality back into the fairytale relationship marriage begins with.
To see the reality before marriage requires we get to know our prospective mate well. That means spending quality time together with that purpose in mind. Over time, personality, attitude, and goal differences will surface. Only if you can accept the whole package, as it were, should you consider marriage. Otherwise, what you don’t like and later try to change in your mate may be the beginning of the death of your relationship.
Kindness — Basic #4
This one seems like a no-brainer but it’s actually the basic element that is discarded first — making the other basics much harder to achieve.
…research on marriage shows that healthy marriages have five positives for each negative. Think about it! Something kind is said or done five times as often as something negative or corrective. ~Kindness Builds Strong Marriages
Communication — Basic #5
Whole books have been written on the importance and technique of meaningful communication in marriage. The reason why so many words are spent on this one subject is that it’s important. It will take time and practice to learn to communicate effectively with your marriage mate. Learning to talk with someone and not at them is an art form. And what may be a new thought to some is that at different times — listening is the biggest part of communicating well.
Communication in relationships is like a river. When thoughts and feelings flow smoothly between marriage partners it’s fun, feels good, and helps support everyone around. ~Communication In Marriage Is A Skill You Can Learn.
Plus 1 — Spirituality
“A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.” — ECCLESIASTES 4:12.
The principle stated involves having a harmonious spiritual connection with each other, and with the Creator. Having God in a marriage makes a three-fold cord — one not easily broken. Why?
Simply put, a spiritually-minded individual will often change a harmful attitude or take positive action in keeping with their personal relationship with their God when they won’t do the same for their marriage mate.
It’s not that we don’t love our mate and want a happy marriage, it’s that our imperfections get in the way. It’s a hard fact of human nature that we conduct our lives on a higher level of morality and principle when we’re personally answerable to God.
…Many couples feel the need for a ‘marital road map’ to direct them along the way. The most dependable and authoritative “map” for marriage is provided by the Originator of marriage… How to Build a Successful Marriage
Love can and does last a lifetime for those couples that are willing to learn and apply the basics.
“Sustaining love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it.” ~Liezel Alaska Alberto
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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