Marriage is something that – almost – everyone dreams about as a child. We fantasize about finding that prince or princess and living happily ever after. Unfortunately for our inner-child, marriage doesn’t always have a fairytale ending. According to the American Psychological Association, over 90 percent of people get married by the age of 50, but nearly 40 percent of marriages fail. That’s a scary statistic to think about whether you’re single or already married. However, the good news is that there are tons of things you and your partner can do to be more proactive about being happy and making it work for the long run. So whether you’re a newlywed or have been married for years, here are three of the top tips to help you and your partner live happily ever after.
Balance Your Finances
One of the most common topics that married couples argue about is money. According to Dave Ramsey, money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce, behind infidelity. Couples entering a marriage often do not disclose to their spouses just how much debt they’re in due to feelings of embarrassment and anxiety. However, avoiding this can cause couples to later find themselves in troubled waters when it’s time to buy a house or start a family. Additionally, a big mistake couples make is not laying out a concrete budget for themselves and their family. To avoid this, establish clear goals about both present and future expectations about your financial goals and ambitions.
- Determine how much debt each person has and set a goal date to eliminate that debt.
- Calculate your monthly expenses and determine realistically how much you can save, and how much you can keep spending to stick to your goals.
- Start an emergency fund and/or open a joint savings account if you don’t have one already.
- Decide how much money you each want to save every month and hold each other accountable.
In addition to these four steps, you should also set up precautions to protect both you and your spouse from damaging each other’s finances. For example, an identity theft protection service can help monitor your credit scores, credit cards and personal information. This can reduce the risk of any additional marital stressors and protect your financial security.
Determine Your Love Language
Don’t worry, it doesn’t always have to be serious and stressful when it comes to making it work with your significant other. Determining each other’s love language can be a fun way to learn more about your partner and drastically change your relationship for the better. This concept was developed by Gary Chapman who wrote a book about how to express yourself to your partner depending on which of the five different emotional languages they speak in. Chapman says there are five ways to express and experience love that include:
- Quality time – spending one on one time together
- Gifts – receiving gifts
- Words of Affirmation – verbal affection and words of endearments.
- Acts of Service – an “action speaks louder than words” approach
- Affection – physical touch
The key point of Chapman’s book is that everyone gives and receives love differently, so it’s important to know which love language you and your partner prefer. For example, you may feel loved when given gifts, so you buy your partner material things in hopes of making them feel loved too. However, your partner’s love language may be words of affirmation like saying “I love you,” or “you look beautiful today.” Therefore, your gifts may not make them feel as good as verbal affection. It’s extremely important to know what love language your partner speaks in order to keep each other happy in the way that makes your partner feel most loved and appreciated.
Talk About Everything
No matter what stage of marriage you’re in, the most important thing you can do for you and your spouse is to have ongoing conversations with each other, whether about finances, your wants and needs in your relationship, or career goals. But communication doesn’t just mean talking about the heavy stuff, talking to your partner about how your day went can be a big game changer. Your partner should be your best friend, but that’s hard to do when communication is lost.
Face-to-face communication is almost a lost art, with technology taking over almost every aspect of our lives. Make a conscious effort not to discuss important things over text since our feelings don’t always translate well over text message. Communicating with your partner is one of the most obvious, but forgotten ways to build a long-lasting relationship.
Communication Is Key
Every single one of the pieces of advice mentioned involves communication. From discussing finances to determining love languages, communication is a key part of a successful marriage. By following these three key pieces of advice your marriage – young or old – can have a better chance of lasting for the long haul.