We've all read the statistics: Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.
Are the lucky couples who continue to love and lust and live in relative
harmony just that -- people whom the fates have blessed? Over Cupid's dead
body! Love isn't a present that gets handed to you; it's a special kind of
learned behavior. WebMD consulted the marriage and relationship experts to
learn the best advice for a good marriage - five secrets to long-lasting
"We're born with the capacity to have a happy marriage, but we still have to
work to develop it," says Howard Markham, PhD, co-director of the Center for
Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver and co-author of
Fighting for Your Marriage. "Having a good marriage takes
education," Markham says. "We have to unlearn some bad habits and acquire other
By Kimberly Goad
As Amanda Clark, 33, a caterer from Boston, walked down the aisle toward her fiancé, wearing a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, she felt nothing but dread. I don't want to go through with this, she thought, with each step toward the altar.
Just two hours before the ceremony, Clark had gone for a dip in the ocean with her two sisters. When it was time to get ready, Clark wouldn't budge. "I couldn't get out of the water," she says. "It was like knowing you have a work meeting...
Other experts WebMD consulted agree. The couples who remain close and
content are the pioneer-spirited among us who share the same secret formula:
When problems crop up, they don't give up. They use the following five basic
pieces of advice for a good marriage that can help every couple live (more)
happily ever after.
1. Listen Up! "Everybody has the need to be listened to and
fully understood," says Jack Rosenblum, PhD, co-founder (with his wife of 29
years) of "Loveworks" couples' workshops and co-author of Five Secrets of
Marriage from the Heart. You need to make your partner feel
heard, even if that means pushing aside some anxiety or sitting on your hands
rather than offering advice when your partner needs to talk. Sometimes
"mirroring," or simply repeating what your spouse has said, is enough to let
him or her know that you've been listening. For example, say something like, "I
understand you're upset because I didn't take out the trash." Or "I hear
that you want to talk about what happened at the office today." Provide
evidence that you're paying attention to your partner's concerns.
2. Set aside regular couple time. "Early on in a
relationship couples talk as friends, they do fun things," says Markham. "But
over time, those ways of connecting change." Work, family, financial
woes, all have a way of overtaking daily life and eroding the sense of fun that
brought you two together in the first place. Bring the fun back - even if
you have to schedule it in the calendar once every week. Sharing a physical
activity, like a bike ride or a walk around the block, is especially good for
lifting your spirits along with your heart rate. Activities like going out for
an intimate dinner, staying at home and playing music from your college
days, or watching a favorite movie (will help you both remember why you chose
each other. If cash is in short supply, trade off babysitting with a friend and
plan a picnic in the park. There are 168 hours in a week: make a commitment to
devote at least two of those hours to your marriage every week.