The #1 Thing You Need For A Happy Marriage (Hint: It's Not Love)

couple hugging

Love derails so easily when it lacks direction.

Marriage: The term by itself sends shivers down the spines of most macho men, while giving almost any woman of any age, race, or religion, happy butterflies. The mere mention of the word "marriage" creates everything from confusion and dilemma, to thoughts of bliss and security.

Nonetheless, when love goes wrong, marriage can make the most unemotional man break down and cry. Likewise, a unfulfilling committed relationship can cause the most optimistic of women to feel hopeless, doubtful and depressed.

This is why clarifying a shared personal purpose for your marriage leads to greater relationship happiness.

Clarity is crucial for any relationship to work. Without a shared sense of direction, the most stable of relationships will fail. Now, you're probably asking yourself, "What can I do to avoid becoming a future divorce or unhappy marriage statistic?"

Did you know statistics show that 50% of the most committed relationships fail within two years or less? And, here's the real kicker: when you add those who are legally married to that pool, the number actually goes up to around 55%.

You'd think that just stepping the game up by getting married would put the odds in your favor, but that's not the case. Reality check—just running down to the courthouse and purchasing a marriage license and a pricey ring, does not immunize your relationship from future failure. However, there are a few things you can do which will significantly increase your chances of a lasting, successful happily-ever-after.

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. The saying, "People perish for a lack of knowledge," is far more than cliché; it's a fact. That's why having a shared view of how you both perceive the purpose of your marriage is so crucial. You must communicate, in detail, (and agree upon) exactly what commitment and marriage represent to you both, as a couple and individually.

This is the first step in positioning your relationship to successfully endure the attacks your bond will inevitably face. This includes, but is not limited to, everything from setting boundaries about who can come visit and how long they're allowed to stay, to deciding how to share and spend money. Heck, this even includes who does which chores around the house.

The reason most relationships crash and burn is because couples are so infatuated with the idea of love, they fail to look at the realities and responsibilities that come with managing it. After all, you're talking about sharing your life and your entire being with another person. Probably a good idea to get on the same page with one another about what that means before you jump in blindly. 

In the past, people "jumped the broom" for reasons having little to do with love. But today, our economy, shifting gender roles, and human evolution in general create space for a new expectation of the role of marriage. This is no longer a feudal society. Things are different now, but what it takes to make a "happy" marriage work hasn't changed a bit.

Unlike your ancestors, you now know better (or at least you should). Though your instincts are urging you to avoid deep probing conversations, doing so may save you from future heart break. It's time to ask hard questions to ensure you and your partner agree to a shared purpose for your commitment to one another.

Here are some questions to with:

  • How do you feel about opposite sex friendships?
  • What are deal breakers when it comes to opposite sex friends?
  • How often can my relatives come visit?
  • How do you feel about religion?
  • Do you want children?
  • What type of parenting style do you prefer?
  • How often do you like to have sex?
  • What are your sexual preferences?
  • What are your daily habits and routines?
  • What are the roles you that you feel/think are appropriate for woman to play in a relationship?
  • What are the roles you that you feel/think are appropriate for man to play in a relationship?
  • How much information about us can I share with my friends and family?
  • What are your views on saving and spending?
  • Which of my resources or possessions do you expect me to share with you?
  • Which of your resources or possessions are you willing to share with me?

By asking those preemptive questions you will unearth things that you NEED to know about your mate. Yes, asking such questions may seem a bit awkward but you can't afford not to know the answers. Foresight beats the hell out of hindsight every time.

Over the last ten years, I've coached thousands of couples, written hundreds of articles, and even wrote a book that the Associated Press referred to as "the" relationship manual. I'm saying all of this to assure you—I've seen (up close and personal) what works, and moreover, what doesn't in creating and sustaining a successful marriage.

To create a fulfilling, lasting relationship you must know what you're getting yourself into. You must cross your t's and dot your i's. Lastly, the most important thing is that the two of you keep touching and keep laughing. Statistics show that couples who smile, laugh, and share new experiences, while making sincere efforts to communicate, effectively last. 

Dr. D Ivan Young is a relationship coach using powerful dialogue to help women, men, singles, couples, families and organizations develop healthy relationships and understand their true intended purpose despite personal and professional challenges. Visit his website to learn more.