Hiding purchases, online relationships, or your feelings from your spouse? That’s a big no-no. “Couples in successful marriages have each other’s backs and do not keep secrets,” says Feuerman. “They behave in ways that better both each other and the relationship—not just themselves.”3. You’re in it together.
“The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership in which both parties feel respected, cared about, and needed,” says Tessina. Even if you’re having problems, if you approach them as a team they’re easier to solve. Michael J. Salamon, PhD, a couples therapist based in Hewlett, New York and author of Every Pot Has a Cover: A Proven System for Finding, Keeping and Enhancing the Ideal Relationship, points to a couple he recently worked with as a great example of teamwork. “Financial stress caused them to cut their budget way back, and the stress was exacerbated every month when bills arrived,” he explains. The couple fought a lot about what to pay and when. So Salamon asked them to develop a plan to manage their bills while he observed them. “Just giving them the task of working on it together changed the tone. They saw the challenge now as something that belonged to both of them and, and something they should work on together,” he says.
4. You touch each other.
Often. Couples who love each other show it, even during the difficult times that land them in therapy. If you want your marriage to make it, touch your partner as often as possible (put your hand on your spouse’s leg while driving; give him a little squeeze now and then; hug and kiss each other.) Make a point to cuddle in front of the television, on the porch swing, or in your bedroom. “Intimacy is the art of making your partner feel understood and accepted,” says Tessina. “When this feeling is created, barriers fall.” And that brings us to sex. “If a marriage is going to last, both partners need to be able to demonstrate their love by giving and receiving physical affection,” says Feuerman. “A romantic relationship is a sexual relationship and not just a platonic friendship.”5. You let go of grudges.
Simply put, resentment will destroy a marriage. So you need to step up and say “I’m upset because X.” “When one spouse claims to be ‘fine’ when he is in fact agitated, it creates an environment in which one person has to guess the other’s true feelings, and no one likes that game,” says Karissa Brennan, a New York City-based psychotherapist and founder of Cloud Counseling, an online counseling site. “The more you show your partner what bothers you, the more she’ll understand how to help you through it,” she says. Marriages are successful when couples learn to express their feelings clearly and respectfully in the moment.
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