Everyone has an opinion on what makes a marriage successful. Researchers research, counselors counsel, and preachers preach. I suggest there are some basic considerations that give a couple the opportunity to have an effective marriage. And I use the term “effective marriage” because the idea of what is successful is so relative.
First there is the issue of communication, and particularly listening. Couples who honestly listen to each other learn about each other. But what is just as important as listening is Responding Appropriately to what you have listened to. Do you respond with empathy or sympathy? Is your response supportive? Do you probe and question effectively? Responding appropriately is so important to the entire listening process.
Secondly, couples have to have Clear Expectations even before the vows are shared. Each person must understand what they are expected to bring to the relationship and clearly understand what their partner is bringing to the relationship. Couples can’t let the euphoria of romance cloud the need to ask questions that may not seem all that loving. Often times the answers become the foundation on which the relationship is built. Too many time couples find out “secrets” about their partner after the ceremony and realize that there were questions that needed to be asked.
And finally, each couple needs to establish the Rules and Roles of the relationship. Marriage is a partnership. The rules of operation and each person’s role in carrying out those rules have to be discussed. While all of the rules and roles may not be established by time the “Wedding March” begins, at least an open and honest dialogue should be started.
So you see, none of this stuff is a secret. It simply requires time, energy, and effort.