Healthy marriages are ones that last and satisfy. Discover the key elements that are necessary to make your marriage satisfying and that will enable you to avoid divorce.
Love is not enough. The romantic love felt in the courtship days and the early months of marriage is pleasant, thrilling, and fun. But such is not the glue which will hold a marriage together for a lifetime.
Romantic love is infatuation and is based on lust, not true love. M. Scott Peck defines love as desiring the spiritual growth of another and the willingness on one's part to behave in ways that will foster and enhance that growth. Love is not feelings, but rather is about actions. The feelings we enjoy are a bonus, but they may come and go and fluctuate as do the tides.
The primary element which will aid a lasting marriage is commitment. Both partners need to agree that they see marriage as being for a lifetime. It should be explicitly stated that neither partner will view divorce as an option.
It is necessary to learn what will convey to one's partner the feeling of being loved. Too often the practice is to try to convey love to the other by behaving in ways which would cause you to feel loved, but these things do nothing for your mate. Learn who your partner is and what makes him/her feel loved and then teach yourself to behave accordingly.
For the most part, the chief need of males is to feel respected by their spouses. For women, the strongest need is to feel cherished.
Do not have unrealistic expectations of your spouse. Remember that both of you are just human beings, warts and all. Think of your marriage in terms of "is it more good than bad?" and go on from there. Do not look to your mate to complete you or to fill the holes inside of you. Remember that it is your job to fulfill yourself. You and only you are responsible for your happiness. Do not put onto your spouse what you should be doing for yourself.
Learn how to fight fair and to do so without the use of demeaning the other, use of sarcasm, belittling, or name calling. Develop ways of dealing with anger. Chief among these is the old Biblical injunction, "do not let the sun go down on your wrath." In other words, if you have to stay up all night talking in order to resolve differences, do so. Do not go to bed angry.
Communicate about what is really going on. Learn to express your feelings and to not divert into other topics which are not truly expressing what is on your mind. It is necessary for both partners to work on talking and on listening. Teach yourself to be an active and reflective listener who affirms who your partner is and his/her right to have feelings.
Respect and enjoy and celebrate the differences between you. Remember that you each have something to give to the other. Take the point of view that you can each complement the other and together make a great package.
Respect your own and your spouse's boundaries. Remember that you are not "joined at the hip" but remain two distinct individuals, even though you have chosen to form a coupleship. Picture yourself in your mind and draw a circle around you. Now think of your partner and draw a circle around him. Next, draw one circle that encompasses both of you. You can see that you together form a unit known as a married couple, but that within that unit, two separate people remain. Do not think that you can take down the boundaries between you and thus find happiness. The "urge to merge" does not mean good mental or emotional health. Take responsibility for your own life first and then give selflessly to the other.
Remember the tides and know that there is an ebb and flow to marriage. You won't always feel "in love", but you can always feel that you are committed to a lasting, mutually-satisfying marriage. You CAN make it happen; it's work, but it's worth it.