Our parents' lives was simpler. They got married, had kids, and stayed married, whether they could stand each other or not. Our lives are anything but that. We find ourselves caught in a situation where we don't know whether to stay or flee, and everyday, we ask ourselves the question: Is my marriage happy, something our parents never had to deal with...marriage counselors have come up with a formula to make it work (yes, divorce is not an option, as that only leaves you starting on the drawing board all over again, pity!)
1. Happiness is not a constant
Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Therefore, to find happiness in marriage, one has to intentionally do things that will keep the happiness quotient intact when life sucks it away.
2. A positive attitude: Give and Take
Once again, the biggest ingredient in a successful marriage, as in any successful venture, is our attitude. How much do you give and how much do you take...how easily do you forgive or how do you view your spouse's shortcomings.
3. Be affectionate
Physical expression of love is crucial. Be it a lingering kiss (doctors advice this six times a week) sex (twice a week at least) hugs (twice a day) and saying "I love you" (five times a week)...if people ask you if there's not more to life than just the physical, tell them you're counting on that! :)
4. Allow a healthy fight a week
Fights and arguments are part of the deal, so don't run away from them or feel overly guilty about them. Two complex people are sharing an intimate space - what else do you expect? Learn not to hold grudges, not to bring up the past, and that a fight doesn't mean the marriage is over. Crises can be like storms: loud, scary and dangerous, but keep believing the sun will come out.
5. Spend time with each other
The best way to bond is to spend quality time together, and if you can't find something romantic to do, you can even catch up with one another over the washing machine or in the kitchen...but don't let the void get bigger...
6. Take a short break together
It's very important to get away from family, work, kids and other routine commitments if your marriage has to work. Fulfilling our various commitments makes us forget each other, so it's necessary to go on a drive or fly to someplace new to infuse fresh energy into your relationship...
7. Count your blessings: It could be worse
Count your blessings means to add up, in your mind, the hundreds of ways in which your spouse contributes to your life. Imagine a world without them and you will soon fall in love with them again... this includes admiring their unique qualities, like his sense of humor, or forgiving nature or even manly forearms (other qualities for a female)...
8. Allow space in your marriage
Too much space - the kind that leads to infidelity or work a holism - means a breakup of marriage, but too little space, where one spouse is constantly breathing down another's neck, isn't too good either... allow each other the space to explore their own interests, and happiness is guaranteed...
9. Complain constructively
When there are problems, there will be complaints. But you can choose whether the complaints are loud letting off of steam or aimed at concrete solutions that pave the way for greater peace at home...learn diplomacy and, as the saying goes, you cannot see eye to eye when you are looking down on someone...
10. Marry someone a lot like yourself
Although the phrase "opposites attract" has been around for a while, what makes a marriage successful is finding someone who shares your ideas even if that person is not your carbon copy...unless there is empathy, you can't go far...