The average wedding in the U.S. costs around $30,000. You would think that such an extravagant ceremony would reflect a high level of commitment among married couples. Yet, roughly 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. That divorce rate rises even more sharply with second marriages. While these sobering statistics may make it seem like the success or failure of your marriage is just a very expensive coin toss, there are concrete reasons why some marriages make it while others fail, and what's more: there are things that you as a couple can do to improve your odds. What A Year In Marriage Taught Us About Love
More from YourTango: How To Get Your Partner Into Couples Therapy
By far, the number-one problem that the couples I work with identify in their marriages is that they "can't communicate" with each other. What that usually means is that difficult topics cannot be discussed reasonably, where both sides speak their mind and negotiate a solution. What happens instead is that these topics either turn into vicious fights or are avoided altogether.
One of the key factors that lead to the success of a marriage however, is a couple's ability to work through these kinds of issues. In other words, it's not simply the lack of bad stuff that helps long-term couples to become resilient to adversity, but how they deal with those challenges. So how can you and your partner learn to communicate in a constructive way about those difficult topics? A Couple's Guide to Communication
First, it's important to understand that not only is disagreement normal, it's a good thing! You are two different people with different upbringings, preferences, fears, and coping mechanisms. Second, learning this will be hard at first. That's normal too! Successful relationships take "emotional muscle" and if you haven't exercised your relationship muscles in a while, coping with differences will be painful. But in the same way that you can develop physical muscle, you can stretch and grow relational muscle too, and as a result, make your marriage stronger and more resilient.
A key factor in developing the emotional muscle of healthy communication is something I like to call showing up. Couples tend to feel closest when they can share everything with each other, but that requires being present with each other. Why Do We Feel The Need To Argue?
More from YourTango: Getting Your Money's Worth in Couples Therapy
Showing up has two aspects to it:
1. Showing up means expressing yourself authentically. That means being able to recognize your own thoughts, feelings, values, and desires, and to be willing to honestly share these with your partner. It means showing yourself to your partner with all of who you are — both your good and your bad sides. It means acknowledging that you and your partner are separate people, and that disagreeing on points is an acceptable fact of life.