Marriage is a huge step in most people lives, and has traditionally been a way to unite two people who love each other, but is that always the case? Although it is a common desire of human beings to procreate and build a family, living a happy married life is not so frequent than that. In fact, studies have shown that the divorce rate in the U.S fluctuates from 40 to 50%. Does it sound like a lot? It is!
Unfortunately, “life makes people change”, or so I heard. I don’t believe in the slightest that the reason why most people divorce is because they suddenly changed, but rather because they grew apart.
No matter what the official reason might be: infidelity, lack of commitment, unrealistic expectations… divorce always stems from something called ‘communication’.
There is no possible way to be unhappy in a relationship if there’s a deep and intense level of communication: what does the person want from you and that relationship?
Most people live their daily life without even considering about how they could grow their relationship, and so it naturally grows or dies. As statistics show, about one on two couples ends up dying. Then, they end up blaming their partner or life itself, but they never blame the real cause of this: themselves.
Today, I’ll share with you the 6 common things that distinguishes the happiest couples in the world that I studied from the others to live a happy married life.
1 – Selfishness
Most people are in a relationship to receive, and not to give, which is in my opinion the biggest mistake you could ever make. They do not intend to make any effort, yet they are expecting their partner to work on the relationship.
How could that lead to a healthy and happy married life at all?
As I’ve already talked about in my article on givers (The Art Of Giving: Why You Should Give And Not Take From Other People), people want to hang out with givers, not takers. Would you spend time with someone that’s only asking you favors and always need your help? Probably not. On the contrary, we would all love to spend more time with givers – people that just give out of generosity.
A relationship works in the same way: if you’re expecting the other to give you what you want, then you’re in the wrong mindset. Not only will you not get what you want, it will destroy your relationship.
Being selfish is a common trait that I found in divorced couples. This is no coincidence. Instead, what I found is that people who gave unconditionnal love to their partner were the happiest: they do not expect anything in return, they just give love. Doing this not only will enhance your love and passion for your partner, but your partner will also realize what you are doing for them and will give back to you.
Unfortunately, most people get it all wrong here. Although they receive, they do not notice it, which brings me to my next point.
2 – Different Ways Of Communicating
Did you think that communicating in iteself (talking) was enough? That’s entirely wrong.
As a matter of fact, we all have different manners to express our love to our soulmate. There is a great book called ”The 5 Love Languages” that goes deeper into this, but I’ll sum it up for you:
Out of five ways, all of us have one or two ways through which we’d like to receive love in a relationship.
Those five ways are:
1- Words of Affirmation
Words of Affirmation is about expressing your love through words. Thus, the best way to express love to your partner would be to litteraly say it. Other than that, you could just express your appreciation for anything that they did, such as: ”Thanks for helping me today”. However, be careful: have you ever dated someone that hated this form of love? For some people, words of affirmation such as ”I love you” are just that – words – although it can be very poweful on certain persons.
Gifts is pretty self-descriptive, isn’t it? It’s about expressing your love through gifts. For some people, gifts are proof of love. If that’s the case, just shower them with gifts!
3- Acts of Service
Acts of Service is about doing them a favor. It might be powerful on ‘words-are-just-words’ type of people as this kind of person usually demands action: ”Actions speaks louder than words”.
4- Quality Time
Quality Time is about giving undivided attention – this means no distraction whatsoever (TV, phone, computer…). In a sense, it’s a really good form of communication. Good old communication.
5- Physical Touch
Physical Touch is, as expected, about expressing love through touch: kisses, love-making, hugs…
These are all different way of expressing love, and there is no better way than the other.
They’re all equal, and the only way to use one of them full-power, is to ask your spouse. You could try to guess all night, but at the end of the day, only your spouse can give you confirmation.
Truth be told, it is very likely that you would be wrong if you tried to guess, because we all have a bad habit: we tend to project our values onto others.
In short, if the way from which you feel the most loved is through Words of Affirmation, then you’ll have the bad habit to assume (unconscioulsy) that your partner value it as much as you. Except if you are in luck, chances are your spouse will value something else.
Communication is the root of all healty relationships I’ve come across: although it would be nice, we can’t read minds in the real world – at least I can’t.
Therefore, the best and surest way to know for sure is to ask.
3 – Lack of communication
I sound it sounds cliché, but it’s true: it all comes down to this. A couple will never last unless you have deep, profound communication with your other half. It does not mean ”talking about it for 5 minutes”, but ”real talk”. You just evaluate the relationship with your partner and try to improve it, with no distraction whatsoever.
It sounds so simple, and yet so many people manage to fail this aspect of the relationship, which is the foundation. Just like a house, without the foundation everything else collapses.
The purpose of communication is to improve the relationship by both looking areas to improve on within the relationship, and by preventing any problem from growing further than it needs to be.
When a problem is not solved when it’s small, it will grow and will eventually lead to resentment and other negative emotions. I think we can all agree on the fact that building a relationship on resentment is far from being what we would call a happy married life?
Although it might not be easy sometimes, the whole purpose of communicating is to solve problems, not to worsen them. That’s why there must be an unbreakable rule that everything, no matter how embarrassing or bad it may seem, can be shared without repercussions.
One thing to always remember is that, in a healthy relationship, the intent is always good. Thefore, even the most unpleasant things that can leak from your spouse’s mouth does not come from an attempt to hurt but to love: consider it thoroughly.
4 – Be In The Right Mindset
What I learned is that the healthiest thing to do in a relationship is to love, no matter what.
It’s about loving so much that the needs of your partner become your needs, which pulls you towards filling their needs instead of trying to fill yours. In fact, the worst thing that you could do in a relationship is to try to fill your own needs. It sometimes happen that a partner does not experience happinness on their own, and hence, try to extract as much as they can from the other to become happy too.
The math is simple: to be in a great, happy, healthy, fulfilling relationship, you only need two happy people. If only one of the two is happy, I can guarantee you that it will eventually repell the other.
5 – Happy You, Happy Relationship
Some people say that two unhappy people equals a bad relationship, but I don’t necessarily agree. Although two unhappy people will make a unhappy couple, two unhappy people will often find themselves in the other. We all attract what we are, and so it becomes a sort of attraction.
The best way to live a happy married life is to be overflowing: instead of trying to fill your half-empty glass, you must be so abundant that you want to give as much as possible to your partner.
Is that really hard to imagine that two partners overflowing with joy will end up happy? It’s up to you to figure out how to enjoy life, no matter how tough it may be, to the fullest.
6 – Grow Together
Tony Robbins says that ”If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
There’s no in-between: you either grow or you die. It means that if you don’t proactively do things that will allow your relationship to grow, it will eventually fade. I hate to break that myth, but if you stay passive too long problems that were just infant years ago will start to emerge.
A lesson that life has taught me is that you should always be proactive, not reactive.
That’s why I strongly recommend that you have a, at least weekly, ritual with your partner. A ritual is a moment you dedicate yourselves to check-in in the relationship: what made the relationship evolve, and what didn’t? How could you grow even more? There are tons of questions you could ask your soulmate and tons of answers both of you could give.
Most people are reactive, meaning that they let life decides how the relationship will evolve – whether it will grow or die, but why would you even take the risk? I’d rather take the future of my relationship in my own hands, instead of hoping me and my partner will walk down the same path.
The reason why some people change and lose attraction is that they never checked-in with each other, and never tried to adjust their relationship to make sure it keeps growing.
I want to make sure that you stay proactive and that you always make sure you and your spouse are aligned, walking down the same path. If you go one way and your partner go the opposite way, how are you supposed to live a happy married life?
Growing a relationship is a never-ending process, that’s why we must keep learning and adjusting our processes to always make sure our relationship keeps being on the right track.