The Time-Tested Trick For A Marriage That Lasts (& Lasts And Lasts!)

As human beings, we have an important need to group together. We formulate friendships, romantic relationships, and look for ways to improve our inter-connectivity with one another.

As psychologist Stan Tatkin says in the YourTango Experts video above, this is how humans are hardwired. But there’s a little rule called the “rule of thirds” that he goes on to describe that helps us understand why it’s so important for us to prioritize our attention appropriately in our relationships — and how putting your spouse first leads to a successful, happy marriage

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Each relationship in your life has special meaning and importance to you.

How everyone arranges the importance of these relationships may differ, but these things can change based on what type of relationship you have with them.

For example, when you are younger, spending time with your friends may be more important to you than spending time with your family members. And when you get seriously romantically involved with someone, it might become more important to spend the most time with them, even over your friends.

What we may not realize is that we are mentally ranking the importance of each relationship in our lives and determining what kind of attention and effort we will give it.

As you get more attached to someone, it requires more of an effort to be involved with them.

Becoming inter-dependent on another person is actually, says Tatkin, one of the hardest relationships to maintain because of the effort it requires. This is why sometimes it can be easier to prioritize kids, friends, or even pets in our lives above our primary relationships with our partners.

And this is why putting your spouse first is so important to creating a happy marriage. When it feels like your spouse is putting more time and effort into other relationships — like spending more time devoted to kids, work, or even to in-laws —you're likely to feel slighted or hurt.

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No one likes being moved from first place into second or feeling as though they’ve been demoted.

Your relationship with your spouse is your “primary” relationship, says marriage therapist Jill Kahn. And if you take the position away from a person that you’ve given it to in order to give your time and attention to someone else in your life, you’ll end up hurting their feelings. And then it will require more effort in order to repair the relationship and make amends.

It's a natural human reaction; one that sometimes results in feelings of jealousy.

This is why prioritizing your needs and those of the person in your “primary” relationship is so important.

Making sure that you’re devoting the amount of time and attention they need can be difficult, but in the long run, will end up saving your relationship with them. How you prioritize your romantic relationship, your time with your kids, friends, in-laws, and even pets can either make or break your connection with them.

Watch the YourTango Experts video above for more tips on how to make sure you’re prioritizing your relationships properly! 

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Jill Kahn is a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed professional counselor in Sandpoint, Idaho. She also uses EDMR therapy to help patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you have any questions about your relationship issues or would like to reach out to her for any other reason, you can contact her here.