4 Unusual Skills The Happiest Couples Master Before They Get Married

A couples therapist shares tools and habits that carry couples through the best and the worst of times.

Newly married couple Camila Cordeiro | Unsplash 

Before someone gets a driver's license, they take a driver's ed course, practice with the help of an experienced driver, and closely study the rule book. Driving without the necessary skills would make someone a menace on the roads and a danger to themselves and others.

The same thought process applies to getting married, as well. Before getting a marriage license, people must learn how to do the demanding activities that a partnership requires. Otherwise, couples are at risk for intense fighting and starting a marriage weak from the outset.


Couples who learn crucial marriage skills have the highest odds of a long-lasting and gratifying partnership. Sadly, it's still quite unusual for people to have these skills mastered by the time they get married — but you can change that. 

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Here are the four critical skills you must have as a couple before getting married.

1. Emotional self-regulation

Young children often get mad, cry, or even hit their siblings. Adults, on the other hand, live their lives in a calm zone. The good news is that adults who get overly emotional, especially with anger, can learn to overcome their aggressive tendencies. If you raise your voice and get mad more than once every several months (or get so mad that you say and do hurtful things), you've got some critical learning to do.


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2. Effective communication

Talking tactfully, especially when the issue distresses you, and listening productively is essential to any marriage. Talking in a way that's complaining, critical, or otherwise hurtful will get you in serious marriage trouble. Dismissing what your partner says, negating what you hear with "but," or ignoring instead of digesting what you hear are sure to cause extreme marital woes.

couple side hug while enjoying the view

Photo: Bogdan Sonjachnyj via Shutterstock


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3. Conflict resolution

All couples have differences. Successful couples know how to start with a "his way" and a "her way" and end up with an "our way" that they both feel good about. That's true whether the issue is a simple one, like what movie to see on Saturday night, or a big problem like where to live, how to handle money, and how to keep your intimate life alive, you have to come to a compromise you both can live with.



4. Positivity

Every time you share a smile, laugh at your partner's jokes, agree with a comment your partner said, express appreciation, thank your partner for something, or express affection, you are offering "dollops" of positivity. The more dollops you give, the happier you both will be. The moral of the story? Be prepared. Remember that a wedding is for one day. But a marriage, hopefully, is forever.


A marriage takes work and effort from both partners, if you're willing to learn a few crucial skills, you'll be triumphant in creating a vibrant marriage based on love. And if you're spending too much time and energy focused on needing to have a wedding, you still need to make sure the marriage that follows will be a prosperous one.

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Dr. Susan Heitler is a clinical psychologist and author. She is a subject matter expert in breaking bad habits and unhealthy compulsive behaviors.