Copyright (c) 2002 Susan S. Levine, All Rights Reserved
Along with the recommended book titles, we encourage writers to offer their thoughts on what makes a successful marriage. Authors may use their full names or their online screen names only, if they prefer.
Criteria For Healthy Relationships
Copyright (c) 2002 Joseph Bieber, All Rights Reserved
Partners can manage conflict and differences without despair or threats.
Both partners protect and nourish the relationship and make it a priority (not addicted to work for example).
Both partners know how to be responsible for own needs and also for the care of the relationship.
Both partners feel "special" to the other. Arguments or fights do not lead to abuse or threatened break-ups.
Both partners can communicate wants, needs, feelings, and emotional issues with little or no shame.
There is unconditional love if not unconditional agreement.
The relationship feels and is nurturing, comfortable, and fun.
Both partners attend to the needs of each other willingly and lovingly.
The sexual relationship works well and is mutually satisfying.
Both partners can and do keep agreements (maturity).
Both partners are honest.
There is no abuse: physical, verbal, emotional (ignoring).
Both partners have boundaries. Each person can say "no" to requests from partner when necessary without feeling guilty and tell their partner when something feels not right or hurts them. People pleasing is kept to a minimum and neither one feels they are making a "great sacrifice" to stay in the relationship. Each person is able to do their work, attend to their children, care for other aspects of their life without threatening the relationship.
Partners can hear feedback from each other that they may be projecting old relationship fears onto the current one.
There is commitment: exits are blocked.
Prevent Your Divorce Before Planning Your Wedding
Copyright (c) 2001, Susan S. Levine, All Rights Reserved
Every year, people spend thousands of dollars on their wedding day. Roughly half of those marriages end in divorces, costing thousands of dollars more. This leaves two people, once very much in love, asking themselves, "why?" "How did this happen?" But that's not the imporant question. For you, the critical question is: "How can I prevent this from happening to me?"
Maybe you thought it could never happen to you? I had the same thought, until two years ago. But my "perfect" marriage ended like so many others, in emotional heartache and financial turmoil. After a few months, however, I saw things more clearly. I realized there were signs I had foolishly ignored. Understanding those signs before getting married, and asking the questions they posed, would have saved me from the devastation of divorce.
You may not be thinking of marriage now. What about the future? Do you have an idea what you should know, about yourself and the person you will marry? Are you aware of the issues that should be discussed before taking this step? What do you expect, of marriage, and of each other?
Many couples enter into matrimony with unanswered questions and unresolved problems. They deny the existence of doubts, clinging to the illusion that marriage will sweep them away. These are the couples who will sit in the offices of marriage counselors a few years from now, hoping for a magical cure. Some marriages will survive, and even improve. Others won't. The last stop for those couples is the office of a divorce attorney.
You don't have to remain single for a lifetime to avoid this outcome. You must, however, be willing to ask the tough questions of yourself and the person you want to marry. What are the "tough questions?" The ones that force you to do some painful self-examination. The ones which cause conflict with your partner, your family, or both. Most importantly, the ones that could end your relationship now but save you the emotional and financial costs of divorce later.
These questions must cover the issues that are part of every marriage; love, sex, money, children, housework details, and the list goes on. Since every person is different, some issues will be vital to you, others of little or no importance. You are the only one to make that determination, and you can do it now, next week, next month, or next year. As long as you ask the tough questions before you get married, it will not be too late.
Romance vs. Reality
Copyright (c) 2001 Susan S. Levine, All Rights Reserved
Everyone has their own theories on why so many marriages fail. Our parents' generation may attribute the rise in divorce rates to a lack of willingness to ride out the rough patches, or that getting a divorce is simply too easy. They might say we expected too much from marriage, and were bound to be disappointed. Marriage is hard work, they tell us, and for us to ask for more out of it--and our partners--is just asking for trouble.
This may be true, to some extent. But these are all just opinions, based on individual life experiences. And people who get married today expect more than just a functional marriage, made for the primary goal of raising a family. We want loving partners and helpmates, to bring out the best in us, rather than pointing out the worst.
However, there are times when our romantic wishes and desires take over our common sense. Romance can blind us to certain character traits of our partners and ourselves that tell us a marriage with this person could be a mistake. We might notice a behavior or habit in the person we want to marry that bothers, disturbs or even hurts. But when we put on the blinders of romance, those signs of possible danger are often overlooked.
Obviously, we do not want to purge romance from our lives. We do need to see warning signals early, and be able to judge whether we can live with certain habits and behaviors or not. Destructive ones, like physical or emotional abuse, alcoholism, drug/gambling addictions, generally do not change on their own, and often become more harmful. If we successfully add more reality to our desire for romance, we might find ourselves making better choices in marriage partners.
What Makes It Work?
Copyright (c) 2001 Boots Baumbaugh, All Rights Reserved
In a healthy marriage, it works because both people are giving 110%, and when one of them is down and needs more, the stronger one gives 190%. Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition and never has been.
It works because both give to the other out of love and not out of obligation or because they will get something in return. We all expect to receive, but I'm talking about the premeditated-barter attitude. Love is a four-letter word, but if one partner spells it "give" while the other spells it "take," this is not a healthy marriage, and not one that will last.
If both partners start each day with questions for themselves, they will be successful: How can I make this day a success for me, my partner and my marriage? A marriage is a conscious act, and you cannot treat it as an afterthought. Love must be renewed each day or it will be lost. The passion in a marriage begins the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Every act, all day long, will impact how the day will be remembered. Too many negative days and the marriage will end, enough positive days, and it will be filled with passion, love, caring, respect and longevity.
No one should expect every day to be blissful or exciting, but you do have a right to expect to be a priority in your partner's life. You should have no fear of them not being there when you need them. There should be no doubt in your mind that when you turn to them, they will be there.
Lastly, you must accept the weaknesses in your partner as readily as you accept them in yourself. No one is perfect, so if you're looking for perfection, you'll be better off staying single. We are all flawed, but we love in spite of those flaws. It helps, however, to understand what the flaws are before marriage, and decide whether or not you can live with them.