Along with transparent and clear communication, there are other characteristics that can create a great marriage. Here are 5 that can guarantee a better and more satisfying relationship with your partner.
No marriage can exist without mutual respect. In my work with couples, I find that there is very little respect left in a broken marriage. I also find that one or both partners are unwilling or unable to give respect when the marriage is in trouble. This resistance comes from the ego. The ego often keeps us from humbling ourselves and makes us dig our heels in to make the other person feel our pain. The truth is, both people should allow themselves to feel the hurt, then learn to work through it to see the other person’s point of view. That is empathy which will lead to respect.
Empathy is not feeling sorry for the other person or excusing their actions, that is actually sympathy. Sympathy does not belong in a marriage, but empathy should be present always. Empathy is the ability to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see their side. By putting yourself in their shoes you can get a better understanding of their actions. People behave badly at times, but that bad behavior always comes from an unmet need. This unmet need may not have anything to do with you and your interactions with your partner. It may be a very old unmet need that stems from childhood. You may be able to help your partner realize that their bad behavior has nothing to do with the relationship. When we are feeling badly about ourselves and are not present enough to figure out why, we blame others, usually the people who love us the most. Showing them empathy will help you be kind to them and kinder to yourself.
This should be a no brainer, right? We learned this very early on in life, hopefully. The golden rule “treating others as one would wish to be treated” If you want more compliments from your partner, compliment them. One small act of kindness daily (ie: a compliment, a nice note or text, a kiss goodbye or hello) will eliminate the pressure of grand gestures and it will make your partner feel seen and loved. We often forget to be kind and it is the simplest action a human can take. If you model kindness they will in turn act kind, that can be the beginning of good teamwork.
I often use the teamwork analogy with couples. I think this analogy should be included in marriage vows as well. A team cannot win unless all the players are working together. Sometimes, a lot of times marriage takes work, but it does not have to be hard work. If one person is working harder than the other, that is a sure sign that there is not teamwork. Now, don’t get me wrong, unfortunately there is no such thing as 50/50. I wish life was fair, but your mother always told you that life is not, so accept it. There may be times when you feel that you are pulling most of the weight in the relationship, that is okay, as long as this is not permanent. Relationships should work on a scale and as you know scales are rarely even, but they should not be disproportioned either. Just like on a team, one person may have to pull most of the weight for a period of time but if the team is working well together the weight can and should be lifted off of that person by the other team member. That is taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions in the relationship.
As an individual on a team, you must be accountable and able to take responsibility for your actions, good or bad. This is what we teach our children, if they take responsibility for their actions the consequences will be less, but if they continue to not take responsibility, that is only going to make the parent more angry and frustrated, therefore the consequences will be greater. This is the same in marriage. If you deny your part in a negative situation, your partner will feel like you cannot be trusted. Admitting your faults and holding yourself accountable will help your partner trust you and know that your word means something, that your word is bond.
Jessica Alejandro, LMFT