Make your marriage last long after you've traded "I dos."
In our continuing search for great marriages around the world, we journeyed to the beautiful country of New Zealand.
Our interviews with happily married couples took us to the cities of Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Wanaka, Arrowtown and Glenorchy. We flew in a twin-engine plane over Milford Sound, rode a boat on gorgeous glacier lakes, drove a Jeep down country roads in search of great marriages throughout New Zealand.
This research excursion of ours covered nearly 18,000 miles by the time we arrived home. Does jet-lag come to mind?
While we interviewed a number of long-time couples in New Zealand (both married and unmarried), there are two that stand out the most. Allow us to share the marriage advice we learned from two sets of lovebirds (both married for over 60 years) — Hank and Hanny, and Harold and Dorothy.
In interviewing these two couples, we found that their advice for a successful marriage echoed each other! We never cease to be amazed at just how universal marriage advice is, whether from couples in New Zealand or the United States. There is almost a mystical consistency to the messages we hear.
So, here in a nutshell are the five ingredients of a successful marriage, as shared with us by Hank and Hanny, Harold and Dorothy, and all those other couples we interviewed:
1. Trust is at the heart of a great marriage.
And to those who say that you can repair your loving relationship after one partner violates the most basic trust — all we can say is, you risk joining the ranks of those couples who got divorced!
2. A successful marriage is easy to understand ... but difficult to put into practice.
Marriage is not for the faint of heart. A successful marriage takes hard work: be kind, show respect, engage in simple acts and loving gestures. In the end, a successful marriage is an accumulation of having done the simple things.
Never, ever be lulled into thinking you can take your marriage for granted. Work to make it work everyday of your lives together.
3. Laugh, don't cry.
In marriage, it is always better to laugh a lot than to cry. Nobody ever promised your marriage would be great all the time. All marriages go through trauma and uncertainty. Your relationship is not alone in this. What makes your marriage work is how you react to the tough times — the uncertain times.
Sometimes, you just need to laugh a lot! Laughing cleanses the soul. Laughter purifies the relationship between you and your partner. How about more laughter in your lives together? Laughter could make or break your marriage.
4. Express your love (in small and big gestures).
The most successfully married couples tell us this — express love to your mate multiple times during the day in a variety of ways. If you truly love someone you will find many ways to tell them.
And there is a corollary — it is not enough to love someone and to express that love. The one you love should also be your best friend. In our travels around the world, we have discovered many simple truths, but most importantly, among these is that the one you love must also be your best friend!
5. Give and take.
In great marriages, you win some and you lose some. Never be obsessed by being right! Frankly, the most important notion you should take from this is that great marriages are characterized by "finding common ground" and "creating common solutions."
Share the burden. Don't always feel like you have to find the best solution by yourself. Search for areas of agreement. Great relationships share the decision-making. Being right when you are wrong is not a good solution to any debate.
Give a little and take a little. Arrive at the common ground that makes your relationship work.
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. We took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building A Love That Lasts. Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take this marriage quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.