I've mentioned previously that my husband and I have been in an almost 14 year relationship.
I'm only 30.
Our "serious" relationship began only after my teenage pregnancy at 17. We've been through a lot as a couple over these number of years. We've done a lot of maturing and growing up together and at times growing apart. I'm not the person I was at 16 or 17 years old (thank God) and neither is he (thank you God for that too). So needless to say, we've needed a bit of marital assistance along the way. I'm not ashamed to share that. I'm being real. Marriage is difficult. My marriage is no exception.
"The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."
from the movie, The Butterfly Circus
Denis Lowe, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Family at Pepperdine University, has conducted extensive research on marital happiness. The six most important traits are:
A sense of companionship. "This is particularly important midmarriage. Being one another's best friend is what draws couples together at the beginning of a relationship, but successful marriages find a way to cultivate that feeling over time, which is not easy to do, "Dr. Lowe says. It's easy to get pulled in different directions by kids, older parents, work and hobbies.
Active commitment to one another. Sure, marriage vows are a statement of commitment, but living them day after day requires finding specific ways of constantly saying, "This is the most important relationship relationship of my life," Dr. Lowe notes. The bonds of marriage should supersede relationship with children, colleagues and the families we grew up in.
Effective communication. It's not just talk. You need to get your point across in a way that increases the likelihood your spouse will really listen, such as talking nicely rather than accusingly; listening in order to better understand your spouse; and negotiating through differences.
The ability to manage conflict, change amd adversity. All couples hit bumps in the road, which can include unemployment, legal or financial problems, tragedies, even affairs. "When some couples run into a snag they figure, 'Something must be wrong with our marriage,'" Dr. Lowe says. "Long-married couples know they'll experience their share of adversity and work as a team to resolve it."
A sense of trust and safety. Each partner needs to feel safe enough to share any fear, doubt or failure without it being held against her or shared with others.
A balance between togetherness and separateness. Too much togetherness can create a sense of smothering and control; too much time apart puts the relationship at risk.
(Woman's Day, August 2002, pg. 78)