Marriage Musts: A list for lovers.

Marriage Musts: A list for lovers.

All You Need is Love may be one of the greatest songs written by the Beatles, but the premise is scientifically invalid, according to a study in the latest edition of Monitor on Psychology. In fact you need quite a bit more than just the love stuff, with one in three Australian marriages ending in divorce. Here's some tips on how to beat those statistics, according to experts who have studied wedded unions that have lasted.

Work hard: People who stay married for a long time make a conscious effort at working at their relationships. They place their commitment to each other as a higher priority than work, hobbies and even their children. They know the best way to be a great parent is to be in a loving and long-lasting relationship.

Talk about things that matter: It's so easy to waste time talking about routine matters of work, family or chores. Happy couples talk about their dreams, fears, hopes and fantasies. They share very private and personal feelings and thus stay emotionally engaged with their partner. With a psychological security based on trust and communication, these couples can truly be themselves and experience that amazing feeling of being safe and accepted in another's presence.

Be nice: We all want to feel special, particularly from our lifelong partner. The experts have found that little things mean a lot in a relationship. Simple things such as a genuine compliment, a thoughtful surprise and special attention during tough times really matter. They reflect a caring and concern that mean a lot more than flowers once a year.

Celebrate life: A colleague left work early to take her husband out for dinner to celebrate his recent positive evaluation at work. I voiced some surprise at making such a big deal over such a routine event. My friend gently advised me that their family constantly searches out opportunities to notice and enjoy events that others may view as routine. Successful partners enjoy each other and they actively look for ways to have fun. They are attentive to the small accomplishments of their partners.

Argue gently: Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. Arguments about making, saving and spending money are the No.1 sources of tension between partners. Good couples don't ignore such problems, but deal with them in a respectful way with lots of compromise and communication. They avoid bringing up past hurts but focus on coming up with acceptable solutions for both partners.

Fight boredom: So much of how we live our lives is due to routine and habit. After a while, it is natural to get bored by your partner and seek excitement elsewhere. Committed couples avoid that malaise by taking risks and trying new activities. This adds a vitality and excitement to your relationship and makes it more enjoyable to be around your partner.

 

Dr Gregory Ramey is a psychologist

The New York Times