Dear Barb – Making a marriage work

Dear Barb:

I have recently become engaged and plan to marry next year. I love my fiancé very much and we get along well.

However, both of our parents have divorced and we don’t want this to happen to us. I know there are no guarantees, but we both want to try to do the right things. We were wondering if you could suggest some tips to keep our marriage strong and healthy. Thanks so much.

Vicki in B.C.

Congratulations, Vicki, on your upcoming marriage. Marriage takes a lot of work and dedication from both people for it to be successful. It is a good idea to focus on starting your marriage off on the right path. Sometimes people begin their marriage with unhealthy behaviour patterns and by the time they realize it, the marriage has broken down.

I have found the following behaviours to be important in maintaining a happy, healthy married life.

“¢ Make your relationship a priority.
“¢ Make your spouse feel special.
“¢ Be honest and truthful with each other.
“¢ Communicate your needs and desires openly.
“¢ Don’t allow arguments to escalate to the point of abuse or threats to leave.
“¢ Maintain commitments and agreements that you make to each other.
“¢ Don’t hold grudges. Resolve your differences and let any grudges go.
“¢ Avoid being critical of each other. Instead, offer suggestions to change unhealthy behaviours.
“¢ Listen to what your partner is saying. Try to not filter it through past hurts.
“¢ Be thoughtful (e.g., call your partner during the day just to say hi). Leave a special note in a place only he or she will find.
“¢ Maintain unconditional love in your relationship.
“¢ Work towards making your intimate relationship mutually satisfying.
“¢ Do not let your work or outside activities becoming a threat to your relationship.
“¢ Enjoy each other and do fun things together.
“¢ Develop mutual interests and activities that you can do together.
“¢ Share equally in household and childcare responsibilities.
“¢ Go on a vacation every year, even if it’s only camping.
“¢ Don’t focus on ME, but instead focus on US.
“¢ Don’t take each other for granted.

If you both decide you want your marriage to work and are both committed to this end, I don’t see how you cannot be successful. As stated by Frank Pittman, “The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.”

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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