3 Ways To Have A 'Happily Ever After' Type Of Marriage In Real Life

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How To Live 'Happily Ever After' As Husband And Wife In A Real-Life Fairy Tale Marriage

Find your mojo for staying married happily ever after.

We all dream of that "happily ever after" sort of love and romance. And when you met your spouse, your relationship probably felt like it was right out of a fairytale. But now that you're married, you have to work to keep the connection and romance alive in order to maintain a healthy marriage.

"A young couple marrying for the first time today has a lifetime divorce risk of 40 percent, 'unless current trends change significantly'," according to Divorce Source. Scary numbers.

Yet, you must wonder, what is the 60 percent doing to stay married and of those how many would describe their marriages as the happily ever after kind?

If you want to learn how to have a healthy marriage and create your own happily ever after kind of love, try these 3 things:

1. Make your spouse a priority.

Taking your spouse’s requests seriously is an attitude with follow-up behaviors practiced consistently. If you agree to buy some stamps your partner needs today, you make sure you do it regardless of schedule interruptions unless of course someone dies or you’re in an accident. That’s making your partner a priority.

Another way to make your partner a priority is being aware of sliding door moments.

Sliding door moments is a phrase popular researcher and speaker Brene Brown uses to describe relationship opportunities to pivot and choose self-sacrifice over selfishness. She took the phrase from the movie, Sliding Doors, an exploration of two parallel pathways for Gwyneth Paltrow's character. As viewers, we get to see the two-story lines unfold.

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As a spouse, you have sliding door moments in your relationship where you can choose the path of selfishness (well-deserved and earned) or self-sacrifice (being present for your partner even though you’re interested in doing something else).

Happily ever after couples tend to frequently choose the path of sacrifice for the sake of their spouse’s well-being.

It could be staying up late to greet and support your spouse arriving home from a major presentation when you’re tired. Or delaying the soccer game you’re watching because you sense your spouse needs to talk after getting off the phone with their sick parent.

Or being genuinely accommodating while vacationing with his relatives because you know it’s important to your spouse and he’s concerned you’d rather stay home (and he’s right!). Maybe you go back inside the house to kiss your spouse goodbye even though it's inconvenient to get out of the car, but you want him to know he's worth it.

2. Commit to traveling the marital journey together.

Although society is more accepting of divorce than decades ago, the commitment to not divorcing matters for many — not only older generations.

Just a few weeks ago a 33-year-old married, father of two talked with me about his intention to work hard to keep his commitment to marriage just like he promised eight years ago when he said his vows to his wife. Now, like then he does not consider divorce an option.

What’s extra cool is his patience and compassion for his wife’s stresses and hurtful behaviors she finally admitted. He owns his angry, hurt feelings but keeps the commitment to struggle with her in the forefront. Honesty is present and with that clarity of his and her expectations going forward articulated.

A better analogy is a commitment to the marital journey says a husband, married for the second time for over 30 years. You’re travelers, not tourists together. It takes years to learn how to communicate with each other, to share deeply and honestly, talk about any subject, and trust the other so you can reveal tender and vulnerable stuff about yourself.

In a study conducted at the University of Rochester, researchers said that watching romantic movies (like Steel Magnolias and Love Story) and having conversations around it helps in lowering the divorce rates from 24 to 11 percent in marriages of three years.

As travelers on this marital journey, you’re interested in learning and experiencing new things about yourself and the other. It isn’t all nice and pretty, convenient, and comfortable, well-defined, and planned.

Throw on your backpack and journey together for marital happy ever after goodness.

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3. Know that there are natural cycles in any committed relationship.

Just like anyone who creates knows there are hours, days, and weeks when nothing happens. No inspiration, no ideas, and no energy is forthcoming. Then there’s a spark and the wheels of creativity turn again.

It’s like that in relationships too. There can come a day when you look at your spouse and think, '"Yuck!"

The key to remember is not to panic. View it as a part of the natural cycle of a relationship. Hang in there. Keep doing all the good things you normally do.

Take the opportunity to examine what you’re doing for yourself. Have you had a stimulating conversation with anyone? Are you doing anything about your interest in learning a new language or joining a new exercise class?

I guarantee the next time you experience a lull, and you probably will, it won’t be alarming. You’ll know you’ll get through it. You have before and there’s every reason to think you will again.

Leonardo Da Vinci took 16 years to finish the La Giocondo, popularly known as Mona Lisa according to a recent biography. Make your marriage a work of art that takes years and years to finish.

Happily ever after is a marital masterpiece in the making.

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Mary Franz LCSW, PCC is a couple’s therapist, critical incident responder, and personal strategy coach. Need to talk about a personal or business relationship challenge? Visit her website and ask for a complimentary strategy session.