By Marli Naidoo
Fairy tales sketch a picture of everlasting happiness when the lucky couple at last makes it to the altar. Nothing is said about the hard work that comes after the marriage. We easily spend thousands of rand and endure sleepless nights to make this one day turn out perfect, but afterwards we don’t want to do the hard work that it takes to enjoy a lifetime of successful togetherness. Fortunately there are steps that one can take to improve our marriages, no matter how long ago we made our pledges.
Communicate unambiguously and regularly. Be honest about how you feel, but convey it with respect and love. A major part of effective communication is the ability to listen without preconceived ideas and to realise what it is that your spouse really wants or needs.
Make sure that your loved one knows that you are grateful to have him or her in your life. Let each of you make a long list of properties that you appreciate in each other and share it with each other. This exercise will put new zest in your relationship.
Make time for each other, and do not bring along the kids! Every couple needs time where they can focus on each other without any interruptions.
Understand that it is normal not to agree about everything. Try not to become frustrated or angry, but listen to each other with open hearts and without barriers. In an event where neither of you wants to change their opinion, it is important to meet each other halfway. Swallow your pride and try to reach a compromise.
Learn to truly forgive. Everybody makes mistakes and sometimes these mistakes can cause a lot of pain and misery in a marriage. You can only move on if there is forgiveness and both agree no longer to let bygones be bygones.
When the going gets tough, you’ve tried everything and still don’t know what to do, it is sometimes enough just to hang on and support each other. Sometimes problems have a way of solving themselves while we focus on other things.
Happiness comes and goes and infatuation is highly unreliable. Successful couples learn to deliberately do things that bring back happiness when life tries to steal it and they do not allow their feelings to derail the success of their marriage.
Change your marriage by changing your thoughts. What you think of your spouse has an influence on how you see him and what you are going to expect of him. Therefore, take control of your thoughts and choose positive thinking.
Do not compare your marriage and spouse with other people and marriages. Focus on what you have, tend to your marriage garden with love and respect every day, and see how the grass on which you stand gets greener and greener under your feet.
Happy couples develop meaningful inner connections. Be prepared to accept each other’s individual opinions and perspectives and make allowance for the fulfilment of your dreams. Create little rituals unique to your relationship. For instance, drink a cup of tea together every night before you go to bed.
Read books, go for marriage counselling, do courses, get advice; do not give up on your marriage before you have tried all possible resources.
University of Rochester Medical Center: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4580
Focus on the Family: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/ten-secrets-to-a-successful-marriage/
Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-research-based-principles-for-making-marriage-work/