One in two marriages ends in divorce. Given those odds, it’s easy to think of marriage as a gamble. However, by taking a few basic steps, you can raise your odds considerably. Here are four ways to make sure your marriage can weather any storm.
1. Have fun together
The number one difference between couples that stay together and couples that split up is how much fun they have together. It may sound obvious, but as responsibilities mount, it can be easy to view your spouse as more of a business partner than a life partner. Find fun things to do together as often as possible. If your marriage is missing the fun ingredient, start small. Check out a new restaurant together, spend a day at the beach, or go to a baseball game. Keep your expectations low and concentrate on just enjoying each other.
2. Learn your spouse’s language
Everyone has a slightly different definition of love. Some people see gifts as the ultimate expression of love, while others see quality time as the key ingredient. Renowned marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman describes these different preferences as “love languages.” Learn the language that resonates most with your spouse and you will experience less tension and a tighter connection. To find out what love language resonates most with your spouse, ask them to take this test.
3. Schedule your arguments
It’s natural, even healthy, to argue with your spouse. However, fighting in the wrong way can tear your marriage apart. Fighting without boundaries or without a clear goal of what needs to be worked out can make a bad situation worse. Make a rule in your marriage that whenever tempers flare, either person can call a timeout and schedule an official fight. For instance, you can say, “I can see that this is not getting solved tonight. Let’s collect our thoughts and discuss this tomorrow night.” When you show up to the “official” fight, come prepared. Write down exactly what bothers you, and more importantly, what you are prepared to concede. Then, agree on some ground rules for the discussion. For instance, you might decide not to interrupt each other and not to issue personal attacks.
4. Surprise your spouse once in a while
A successful marriage is usually based on solid routines. And, over time, you may feel that you know everything there is to know about your spouse. However, as the old saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Make an effort to maintain the mystery in your marriage by surprising your spouse every once in a while. Learn a new skill, plan a spontaneous vacation, or do something positive that is completely out of character every once in a while. Keeping your spouse slightly off balance will give them a chance to rediscover their love for you over and over again.