Sunday, April 18, 2010

10 Tips For Strong, Happy Marriages dreams or memories of your big wedding day are new and bright. When you close your eyes, you can smell the roses, feel the silk and taffeta, and see the flash of the camera. But all the work of planning and investing in a successful wedding day is far less important than planning your lifelong marriage.

I’ve spent the last two years studying research about marriage and interviewing couples who have experienced some incredible highs and some devastating lows in marriage—and came out on top. I’ll share with you 10 tips to help you protect and build a strong marriage.

1. In today’s fast-paced, two-career families, traditional roles may not apply in your home. However, it’s important to continue to value your masculinity and femininity. He needs to be respected and treated as your hero; she needs to be romanced and to feel loved. Understanding the Five Love Languages can help you convey love in a way your partner can truly appreciate.

2. Spend less money than you earn. Save for emergencies. Debt will eat away at your marriage. Enough said.

3. Believe in each other. Lift each other up. Be on your spouse’s side. Encourage their dreams. Be the one your spouse can’t wait to come home to. Create a vision for your relationship for five, ten, fifteen years down the road.

4. Give your spouse five positive comments for every one negative. This 5:1 ratio has been proven in successful relationships. Frequent nagging or bickering will tear down your relationship and will probably cause him to withdraw. If you can’t find something nice to say about your spouse, he or she will probably start listening to others who offer praise or attention.

5. In our culture, individualism and freedom are paramount, but when you chose marriage you chose a different route—a route of companionship and caring, of sacrifice and loving. There will be days when you feel you are giving more than you are getting. That’s OK. On that same day, your spouse may feel like he is giving more than he is getting. Keep giving. Keep loving. That’s agape love. By focusing on your own happiness, you miss out on the chance for deeper love and deeper joy.

In his book, Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart , one of the nation’s most prominent pro-marriage counselors, describes today’s “consumer marriage” in which spouses are constantly focused on “what’s in it for me” as the root cause of most marital failures. He explains how this mentality can eventually cause you to work yourselves into a divorce, even when the issue isn’t a deal-breaker.

6. Learn to better listen to one another.

7. Don’t let your arguments get out of hand. Create boundaries for fighting fair.

8. Make time for sex. There will be times when passion does not rule the day. Pregnancies, careers, exhaustion, illness, job loss, hormonal issues, children—these can stand in the way of lovemaking. Sharing the intimacy of sex protects the marriage in many ways and communicates love. Happier couples have more sex.

9. Be careful with social media to ensure temptation doesn’t divide your relationship.

10. Remember your promise. Life will not be perfect with your spouse. Every relationship has strengths and weaknesses, and some problems will never be fully resolved. Focus on the positive and not the negative. Have fun. Laugh. Celebrate even small successes. Surround yourself with great influences and good role models.

Sign up at to receive biweekly tips to enhance your relationship. Lori Lowe has been happily married to her real-life hero for nearly 15 years. They live in Indianapolis with their two children, a crazy cat and two aquatic frogs.


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