A good marriage doesn’t just happen. Experts, real-life newlyweds, and seasoned married couples share 10 surprising secrets to create a loving, lifelong bond.
Live in a ‘Couple Bubble’
“A Couple Bubble is your relationship’s safety and security system,” advises Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, a couple therapist known for his pioneering work in helping partners form happy, secure, and long-lasting relationships. Think of it as a cocoon—created by a couple’s values and promises to each other—that protects the relationship from outside forces. The Couple Bubble is guided by affirmations such as “Our relationship is more important than my need to be right,” and “You’ll be the first to hear about important information,” Tatkin writes in his book Wired for Love. Bottom line: “When safety or security is threatened, you fix it…fast,” advises Tatkin. To create your own Couple Bubble, write a mission statement together, where each of you communicates your values, goals, plan, and desires. It will help identify where your values are in sync—and where they clash, says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. When the going gets tough, your mission statement will remind you both what you stand for. Here are 14 little things you can do right now for a happier marriage.
Learn to fight well
Bickering, fighting, and even slamming doors is normal couple behavior. No one is perfect and sometimes emotions takeover. Learn to take care of yourself and your partner simultaneously, advises Tatkin. “Go for win/win solutions and head as fast as you both can toward mutual relief,” he says. “If your partner appears angry, fearful, or overly stressed, wave a flag of friendliness before continuing.” Agree on a safe word—ideally, something cute that will crack a laugh, like “booty.” When someone yells “booty,” it’s time for a breather. For more tips on fair fighting, check out marriage advice from the 1950s that still applies today.
Try a Netflix intervention
Watching and discussing movies that center around romantic relationships can cut the divorce rate of newly married couples in half, according to a new study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The study participants who watched one romantic movie a week, followed by a 45-minute discussion of how the movie couple’s interactions compared to their own, divorced at a lower rate (11 percent) than couples who received no intervention at all (25 percent). Even better: The lighthearted movie approach worked as well as more intensive therapies. The results suggest that many couples already possess relationship skills; they just need reminders to put them into practice, say researchers.
Make daily eye contact
Remember when you first started dating and couldn’t wait to lay your eyes on each other? Oh yeah! What about as you walked down the aisle, eyes locked? This is a really special way to connect: “Eye contact has the ability to rekindle the love shared between partners. Learn to gaze at each other. Practice every day for at least 40 days—it will become a habit,” says Tatkin.
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