Many engaged couples dream of finding the secrets to a successful engagement and a long and happy marriage. Several books and scholarly research articles suggest that there are a few habits couples can form while they are dating that will later contribute to a satisfying marriage and reduce the chance of their union dissolving.
Experts suggest that the basis of a healthy marriage is the quality of the FRIENDSHIP between them. Research presented in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work suggests that couples who develop and strengthen “friendship” behaviors (such as knowing and understanding your partner, and checking in with him or her emotionally on a regular basis) are much more likely to have lasting and satisfying marriages.
What does this mean? One facet of knowing and understanding your partner is really understanding everything there is to know about him or her – his or her likes and dislikes, important memories and attitudes, what things or people she or he values most, his or her dreams and goals. This knowledge serves as the foundation of your relationship. Consider that most people study their job or their chosen field of work with a lot of attention; the high level of knowledge is a pre-requisite to their success in it. Knowing your partner through and through is also part of being successful with him or her. And, since we all change over time, keeping that knowledge fresh and current is key.
Your dates or trips together are a great time to explore and ask questions. And really pay attention to, and remember, the answers! There are several books on the market to help you with questions if you aren’t sure you know what to ask (see the list below). Research by Blaine Fowers, Kelly Montel, and David Olson supports the idea that couples who have similar views of finances, parenting, and the role of affection and sex in the marriage tend to have the highest levels of marital satisfaction. So be sure to touch on your partner’s views in these areas.
While having a great “map” of your partner’s inner life forms a solid foundation for living successfully with him or her, there are other important habits as well. The books and links below offer more information about strengthening premarital relationships and laying the groundwork for a strong marriage. And check back here for more postings. We will also hold several pre-marital couples workshops in the spring – if you’d like to be added to our notification list for the dates/times of the workshops, please let us know at: assistance@TBCRP.com.
“Predicting Marital Success for Premarital Couple Types Based on PREPARE” by Blaine J. Fowers, Kelly H. Montel, and David H. Olson (1996).
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver (2000).
Conversation Starters for Couples by Gary Chapman and Ramon Presson (2012).
The Book of Fabulous Questions: Great Conversation Starters About Love, Sex and Other Personal Stuff by Penelope Frohart (1998).