Marriage can be challenging. Building a life with another person takes a great deal of effort and married couples should not expect everything to be perfect at all times. Nonetheless, research shows a happy marriage is worth the effort.
A study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Cincinnati showed that some married couples were happier and lived longer than singles. There is also evidence that the happiness couples feel as newlyweds actually increases the longer they are together.
An Australian study showed the so-called “honeymoon period” is actually a myth and most couples are actually happier following their first year of marriage.
So once you decide to marry, how do you make it last? Avoiding many common mistakes that can put you on the track for divorce can help. Things will not always be perfect, but preventing these issues in your marriage will certainly make it easier to overcome challenges with your partner.
1. Lack of Trust
Trust is important in any relationship, but it is especially necessary when you are sharing your life with another person. Your spouse lives in your home, shares your bed, and has equal responsibility in many decisions. If you are unable to trust this person, letting down your guard and sharing these things becomes difficult, if not impossible.
Keep in mind a lack of trust can occur in subtle ways, as well as after a significant betrayal. Of course, if you or your spouse has an affair, it will create a chasm between you. However, a smaller indiscretion could also be problematic.
Hurting your spouse’s feelings or doing something that causes your spouse to feel as if you do not “have his or her back” could also trigger a problem with trust.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with your spouse or working through differences, but your spouse should always feel supported. It is also important to act as a team and present a united front when dealing with external issues.
Miscommunication or lack of communication is a serious problem in a marriage. It is bound to happen occasionally, but you must both work to keep it from becoming an ongoing issue. Do not expect your partner to read your mind and do not assume you know what he or she is thinking. Talk often and make sure the conversations are about more than just the day-to-day events of your household.
3. Living Parallel Lives
Lack of communication in a marriage can often develop into serious distance between you and your partner. Sometimes this occurs even if you are able to communicate with one another. Marriage is about sharing your lives and if that does not occur, the marriage can deteriorate.
If you and your spouse spend a lot of time “doing your own thing” and there is little interest on either side, you will grow apart. There is nothing wrong with having your own interests, but you and your partner must play a significant role in one another’s lives.
4. Keeping Score
It can be tempting to keep score when your spouse makes a mistake. Keeping score can also be a problem when you feel you are carrying more responsibility than your partner. If you keep track of every time you do your spouse a favor or get stuck with an unpleasant task, resentment will grow.
If there is a serious problem with the balance in your relationship, it is time for a discussion. If the problem is not serious, try not to worry whether or not things are in perfect balance. Marriage ebbs and flows, and the healthiest marriages include two partners able to pick up the slack when necessary.
5. Using Weapons
People in relationships sometimes look for ways to “get back” at their partner. When you are intimate with someone and share a life together, there are plenty of weapons at your disposal to hurt your partner. Married couples use sex, past grievances, and even other people to hurt one another.
As tempting as it might be to strike out at your partner when angry, try to be the bigger person and handle issues in a healthy manner.
6. Failing to Make Your Marriage Your Top Priority
Strong marriages create a good foundation for the rest of your life. Though you cannot spend your entire life focused only on your marriage, you can build a relationship that allows you to deal with outside distractions. Your marriage must always be your first priority.
If you deal with addiction, feel the need to abuse your spouse, or have other things in your life you consider more important than your marriage, you are blazing a path toward divorce.
If your marriage is broken, your first priority must be to fix it. Once your marriage is healthy and strong, you can focus on other things, but always be sure your marriage remains strong. If you and your spouse can always say, “My marriage is good… now I can take on the world!” you reduce your risk for divorce.