What Makes a Happy, Successful Marriage? 9 Psychological Factors

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There are several factors that play a vital role in making marriages successful or unsuccessful. Psychologists have conducted studies to narrow down the essential factors that contribute to a successful marriage. Dr. Judith S. Wallerstein, PhD, gathered 50 couples who had been happily married for at least 9 years and had children together and conducted separate and joint interviews.

Wallerstein also conducted follow-up interviews after 2 years and concluded that there are 9 psychological factors, which she refers to as pillars, on which happy marriages rest.

Here they are:

1. Separation of emotions from one’s childhood
It’s important to detach yourself from your childhood family to build strong connections with your adult family. This does not mean estrangement, maintain and balance the relationships with both families and forge a separate identity from your siblings and parents.

2. Building sense of togetherness
The second task is to build togetherness by sharing identity and intimacy, it should be kept in mind to set appropriate boundaries and protect each other’s autonomy. Both partners should also expand their consciousness.

3. Intimacy and sexual relationship
A healthy, respectable, open, and loving physical relationship is a key factor to help marriages last longer. It should be free from stress, demands, and obligations. Make sure to make your partner feel safe in your arms.

4. Embracing the roles of parenthood
This is for those who want children. You must learn to accept that entrance of a baby is going to affect your romantic life in positive and negative ways. Learn to protect your privacy and love your children. Per research by Dr. John Gottman, marital satisfaction declines in 67% of couples after entrance of a baby. Stay open and clearly express your feelings during this period which will make your bond stronger.

5. Deal with inevitable crises
Crises are inevitable, happy marriages are able to handle these crises effectively. It’s necessary to control your behaviour when the unexpected occurs. Handle them wisely and have full faith in your partner. Replace “I” with “we” and remember that everybody is different and reacts differently to situations.

6. Maintain the strength of the marital bond
This is the strongest bond and one should maintain it. Feel free to express your emotions and differences. Talk about the things that you don’t like. Love your bond and feel proud. Express your anger as a natural occurrence and don’t let it fester.

7. Laughter and Sense of Humor
A strong bond involves a good sense of humou. When you share chores, talk about your life, follow rituals together, laughter creeps in naturally. Look for the positive things in your partner and make it positive rather than expecting positive. Smile and laugh together.

8. Nurturing and Comforting each other
This task involves nurturing and comforting your partner. Encourage and support your partner in times of need. Satisfy their needs for dependency and it will make your bond stronger. Notice low moods of your partner and lend him/her a shoulder of support and help. This will make your partner love you even more and you are bound to become closer.

9. Realistic Love
The final factor involves keeping alive the early romantic idealized images, thoughts, and feelings of love. Life is a journey and you are going to face difference phases. Recognize the changes that love has brought into your life. Welcome all the stages of love and cherish the happy times that you share as couple.