Whatever vows you make on your wedding day, I imagine they include hopes of a long and happy future together. I would bet you have thought about ways to fulfill that promise, and you have also probably wondered what the right approach would be. Most of us were never taught how to have a successful or fulfilling relationship, and about half of us grew up in a broken home as a model for marriage. Fortunately, there are some very specific and clear guidelines to help make your relationship work and to help you build a stronger connection with your partner over time. To learn these skills and how to best apply them, consider signing up for a private virtual couples retreat via live video chat with Dr. Helfand. In the meantime, let’s discuss three of the most important techniques to having a happy and successful marriage:
1. Happy couples make each other feel good
This might seem like a silly statement, but it is very powerful when unpacked. If the communication between two people leaves each of them feeling positive, then the connection will deepen. If your partner knows how to make you feel physically good, then you will generally feel a deeper connection with them. Furthermore, if you celebrate accomplishments with each other and offer praise when appropriate, then you both feel connected and supported. Many couples start to take each other for granted as the years pass, so it’s very important to remember to celebrate and cherish the time you have.
2. Breathe while you listen to your partner
Another aspect of feeling connected is knowing that your partner is listening with a supportive ear. Most of the time when we listen to others, we are waiting to jump in, share our own story, or offer a solution to their problem. While those reactions can be helpful at times, it is much more valuable that your spouse feel heard, validated, and know that you care. The best way to listen, is to breathe. There is a reverse correlation between breathing and thinking. The more we breathe, the more our mind settles. The more we think, the shallower our breathe. Next time you are listening to your partner’s story (or anyone for that matter) check in with your body, feel a steady and calm breathe, and allow yourself to focus as you tune into the other person’s story.
3. When marriage is done right, we heal our childhood wounds
As a Psychologist, I have heard so many clients say “I have to work on myself first, and then I can give my partner what they need.” There certainly is value in self-improvement, however using the love, support, and positive interactions of a caring partner can deeply, and often quickly, heal old wounds in our lives. Think of an insecurity you have. If your partner can show compassion and love towards that part of you, then that insecurity can start to soften and eventually melt away. Learning how to support and communicate with your partner not only strengthens your relationship in the moment, but it allows you to drop your baggage, heal old wounds, and move on with a more positive attitude in life.
There are many tips to having a happy and lasting relationship. These three are a really good start, and if you invest your time by practicing the skills of a healthy relationship with your partner, then your investment will grow into something greater than any stock or bond that you can buy. There will always be times when you are tested, stressed, or overwhelmed. With your partners help, you can turn those moments into opportunities to connect and support each other instead of breaking the connection that you vowed to cherish and nurture for the rest of your life. If you need support and guidance as you learn and apply these skills, feel free to reach out Dr. Helfand to learn more about his private couples’ retreats at LifeWise Retreats.