Relationships take practice. We can expect to improve our game of tennis by practicing regularly and changing our workouts; so can we expect improvements in our marriages if we continually practice and change our routines. In a recent article, relationship experts highlight the top five things that can make or break relationships. Some factors that predict risk of relationship failure include poor socioeconomic status and age. People who are younger, have fewer financial resources, and enter marriage already a parent, are more likely to have relationship stress than those who wait longer to marry and have children and those with more financial means. Another sign of potential relationship stress is having cold feet. One study found that women who entered into marriage with cold feet were twice as likely to get divorced than those who did not have premarital doubts. Education also seems to protect people from divorce. According to some research, women who have bachelor’s degrees have an almost 80% chance of seeing their marriages pass the 20 year mark, while those with only high school level education have a less than 50% chance of reaching the same milestone.
But there are things people can do to protect their marriages. First and foremost, focus on the little things. According to University of Michigan’s Terri Orbuch, PhD, couples should make an effort to acknowledge and validate each other. She said, “Doing or saying small things frequently to make your partner feel special, cared for and loved … is very predictive of staying together, being happy and [preventing] divorce.” Communication is another sign of how long a relationship will last. John Gottman, PhD, founder of Gottman Institute, says that couples who resolve disagreements with respect and kindness will stay together longer than those who use defensive or hostile tactics or those who ignore their problems. Also, communicating about more than work, kids, and the house is essential. Couples who have successful, fulfilling relationships spend time talking about their dreams, hopes, and aspirations. They fantasize about the future together and actively pursue new and different activities with each other. In doing so, they prolong the dating phase by continually discovering new things about each other. These simple steps keep them from growing bored with each other the way stagnant couples do. Recognizing the little victories is another way to foster love. If each partner celebrates the positive moments in the other’s life, it creates a feeling of being honored and valued. Getting a raise is great, but even better if the one we love showers us with compliments and accolades for it. Finally, all of the experts note that loving our partner does not guarantee that we will stay together. Good relationships take practice. And practicing love with open communication, thoughtful actions, and a willingness to keep the spark alive will improve our chances of winning in the long run.
Miller, Anna. Can this marriage be saved? American Psychological Association 44.4 (2013): 42. Print. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/marriage.aspx
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