4 Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

by Gideon Hanekom
February 9, 2022

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Today’s post focuses on four key areas of a successful marriage. In my opinion, there are four main or broad areas that should be constantly addressed, improved, and grown in order to have a good marriage, which we’ll unpack somewhat in today’s post.

Marriage is an ancient institution that has existed for thousands of years.

It has endured numerous changes and has kept growing as it has evolved.

When we look at the history of marriage, we can see that there were times when the man was the head of the household. He was in charge of the finances and made decisions about how his family would live.

The woman was often treated as property and was not permitted to speak or vote.

She didn’t even have a name of her own.

Women were accustomed to being subordinate to men during those times.

Things changed, however, as the centuries passed and civilisation advanced.

Women began to demand greater rights and to participate in politics. The church also had an impact on society and contributed to bringing about change.

Marriage is now viewed as a union between two people who want to share their lives with one another.

This can be a very rewarding experience, but it is important to remember that marriage is more than just two people getting together and having children.

A successful relationship is the result of many factors, not just having a life and stuff together.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

In saying that, today’s society is becoming more “individualised” and less focused on commitments such as marriage, and the meaning of marital commitment itself has changed as a result of these changes.

And in light of many changes and pressures of modern-day society, many couples might find it difficult to create and sustain happy and intimate relationships that last.

But, even though problems in modern-day relationships can seem insurmountable at times, a happy marriage is possible and can be achieved by following very specific principles.

This post covers four key areas of a successful marriage in particular.

The important point to understand here though is that unfortunately, creating a happy, healthy, and intimate marriage is not something that happens by accident.

Commitment, focus, effort, compromise, and service are all required.

However, the four key areas of a successful marriage that we will discuss today are:

  1. Communication
  2. Trust
  3. Respect
  4. Emotional Needs

Today, we’ll delve a little deeper into each of these to get a better understanding of how you should think about and approach each in your relationship.

But first, what are the advantages of a happy marriage?

It’s one thing to put things in place and work hard on your marriage with your spouse to keep it healthy and happy, but why?

What exactly does a happy marriage have to offer a couple?

Let’s take a quick look at that.

What are the benefits of a successful marriage?

A successful marriage benefits both spouses.

For starters, it can provide a sense of stability and security, as well as a source of love and support.

As a result, a stable and happy marriage can lead to greater levels of commitment, marital satisfaction, and closeness with your spouse.

Furthermore, having a strong, healthy marriage can help you build better relationships with your family and friends, giving everyone a greater sense of security and belonging.

Another frequently overlooked advantage of a successful marriage is that it is usually more peaceful and enjoyable than a non-successful one.

The most successful marriages tend to share common attitudes, values, and beliefs about family, and this shared understanding can help couples communicate better and resolve conflicts more effectively, resulting in a more satisfying and enjoyable experience as a natural byproduct.

Aside from psychological and emotional benefits, having a successful marriage has physical benefits as well.

According to Harvard Medical School, there is an increasing body of evidence linking marriage to improved health, with some of the more prominent theories including:

It all comes down to immune function.

According to research, people who are in happy relationships have stronger immune systems than those who are not.

Furthermore, cortisol levels tend to be lower in married people compared to single people.

This could be significant because cortisol levels tend to reflect stress levels, and high cortisol levels can impair immune function.

Marriage improves your behaviour.

When compared to single people, married people may take fewer risks, eat better, and live healthier lifestyles.

There is also evidence that married people are more likely than single people to keep regular doctor’s appointments and follow doctor’s recommendations.

When you’re married, your mental health improves.

Poor social supports (which may be more common in single people) have been strongly linked to higher rates of depression, loneliness, and social isolation, all of which have been linked to poorer health outcomes.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

As you can see, there are numerous advantages to having a successful marriage, and this list is far from exhaustive, with many other advantages not covered here.

The main point is that putting forth the effort to create a successful marriage (whatever that means to you) is well worth your time and energy.

As a result, the most pressing question is now, “How do you make your marriage successful?”

To answer that, consider four (4) key areas of a successful marriage.

What are the four key areas of a successful marriage?

A successful marriage is ultimately one where both partners feel loved, supported, and valued.

And in order to create a successful marriage, you should focus on four key areas: communication, trust, respect, and emotional needs.


Communication is one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship because it allows you to express your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly while also understanding what your partner is thinking, feeling, and needing.

In this sense, communication can help to strengthen the bond between spouses and, as a result, improve the health of your marriage by allowing you and your spouse to better meet your desires, expectations, and emotional needs in particular.

The inverse is obviously true and should not be overlooked.

A marriage can suffer as a result of poor communication.

When spouses are unable to communicate effectively with one another, they can become distant and resentful.

Misunderstandings can become entrenched and lead to conflict. Poor communication can even lead to divorce in the worst-case scenario.

But what exactly is meant by “poor communication”?

Many people associate poor communication with a failure to express oneself clearly, but it is much more than that.

Communication entails more than just speaking; it also entails listening.

Listening does not imply agreement with what the other person is saying, but rather that you are aware of their words and body language.

When one spouse does not listen to the other, it can lead to misunderstandings and distance.

But how can you tell if you’re communicating poorly?

In my own marriage, I’ve learned that there is only one certain and reliable way to gauge the level of your communication, and that is your spouse’s reaction.

That will tell you everything you need to know about how well you’re communicating or whether they’re getting the message you’re trying to convey.

If they react defensively, withdraw, or are hurt by your communication, it means it is not doing what you intended.

Effective communication is a two-way street that requires both the sender and the receiver to understand each other and to want to understand.

When we communicate poorly, we can come across as accusing, defensive, and lacking in compassion.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

Good communication, on the other hand, almost always fosters safety and trust.

Good communication assumes that both spouses are on an equal footing and allows for an equal flow of ideas and experiences between them.

Each of us has the opportunity to have our voices heard and to express our thoughts.

This creates a safe environment in which we can all grow, develop, and express our true selves.


Another important factor to consider is trust.

If you don’t trust your partner, you won’t be able to communicate freely and openly with them, making it difficult to share your life with them in the long run.

Trust is something we develop over time, and it must be nurtured indefinitely because trust can be broken.

After many years of marriage, a spouse may begin to lose trust in her spouse for a variety of reasons.

One reason could be that the couple has stopped communicating effectively with each other and is no longer sharing their thoughts and feelings.

This can lead to a sense of disconnect and a lack of understanding, eroding trust over time.

Another reason could be that the couple has grown bored with each other and is no longer enthusiastic about their relationship.

This can lead to complacency and a “good enough” attitude, leading the spouse to question her partner’s loyalty and commitment.

It can also be caused by changes in the couple’s life circumstances that cause stress in the relationship.

Other reasons a spouse may begin to lose faith in her spouse after many years of marriage include controlling behaviour by a spouse which can make it more difficult for spouses to manage their marriage.

As a result, a partner may develop low self-esteem and low expectations, which can lead to low self-confidence.

Furthermore, controlling behaviour can have an impact on the controlled spouse’s ability to form new interpersonal relationships and make friends.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

The definition of controlling behaviour is “a pattern of persistent or repeated behaviours used by one person in an intimate relationship to dominate, manipulate, or subdue another.”

This includes berating or belittling a partner to humiliate them; gaslighting, which is an abuser’s attempt to undermine their partner’s sense of reality; and withholding information and making baseless accusations against their partner.

Controlling behaviour in a partner with narcissistic tendencies is frequently a form of disguised or indirect abuse.

For example,

  • Constantly criticising their spouse while never accepting ownership or responsibility for their own actions.
  • Using their spouse as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in the relationship.
  • Emotional and verbal assaults aimed at making the victim feel inferior and insecure, which frequently result in depression and anxiety.

The point is that trust is a critical component of a successful marriage, and being together for a long time does not guarantee that trust still exists between two spouses; in fact, the opposite is true.

Time together does not give anyone a free pass to control, abuse, threaten, or neglect their spouse in any shape or form.


Respect is a term that is bandied about a lot these days, but many people don’t really understand what it entails.

Respect is defined by some as “a positive attitude of acceptance and approval, usually of someone or something” or “a reverence for something’s intrinsic worth” (in other words, to have respect for something is to have an attitude of awe or wonder towards it).

Respect, in its most basic form, is having a positive attitude towards someone or something because you value them or it.

Respect in marriage, in particular, entails acknowledging that your spouse is a distinct individual with thoughts, feelings, and needs that differ from your own.

It is then a matter of respecting your spouse’s opinions and feelings, even if you disagree with them.

Respect also entails allowing your spouse to be themselves without attempting to control them.

On one level, all of that is respect.

The other important thing to understand in a marriage (and in life in general) is that respect is something that must be earned; it is not something that is given freely, it cannot be bought, and it can be lost.

This is where many older couples who have been together for a long time frequently fail miserably.

Being in a long-term relationship with someone has its benefits, but it also has some potential drawbacks.

For example, it is all too easy to begin taking your spouse for granted and treating them in ways that ignore the very things that drew you in the first place, such as kindness and respect.

Being together for a long time does not make these crucial parts any less important; in fact, the opposite is true.

The longer you are a couple, the more important things like respect and kindness become, and the more difficult it is to work on them.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

Yes, it is true that it is critical to cultivating respect and kindness in any relationship.

However, in a long-term relationship, these values become even more important because they can help to sustain the connection between partners over time, with the inverse also being true.

When couples are new to each other, they may be more prone to overlooking or taking for granted minor irritations.

However, over time, these minor annoyances can accumulate and create tension in the relationship to the point where something has to give at some point.

Long-term married couples, on the other hand, can help to prevent such tension from arising in the first place by working to maintain respect and kindness.

To be clear, respect and kindness are not merely abstract concepts with no practical application of value or meaning.

Respectful love entails feeling empathy and compassion for your partner, as well as valuing their unique qualities and never making them feel judged for them.

This positive attitude of acceptance and approval contributes to the creation of a loving environment in which your partner feels safe, loved, and supported by you, which brings us back to the first point on trust that we will discuss.

It is a love in which both people’s needs are met and they feel respected by the other.

It is a love that “looks out for the other person’s best interests rather than just one’s own.”

When there is a lack of respect in a long-term marriage, it can result in sadness, bitterness, anger, and even contempt.

This can lead to the couple becoming estranged from one another, which can eventually lead to a temporary break or divorce.

However, a couple does not have to go down this path because we can learn to respect our partners by treating them with consideration, care, and kindness on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, respectful love necessitates a balance of empathy (the ability to see the world through your spouse’s eyes) and compassion (the humane feeling of concern for your spouse and willingness to help them when in need), as well as the ability to understand where your partner is coming from and being mindful of their feelings.

To do so, each spouse must be willing to truly prioritise their spouse in both word and action.

When it comes to showing respect to your spouse, there is no room for shortcuts.

Emotional Needs

When a couple understands and meets each other’s emotional needs, they are essentially building a solid foundation of trust and security in their relationship.

This foundation then allows the couple to feel safe exploring and sharing their deepest feelings and vulnerabilities with each other, which means they are naturally building a connection based on mutual understanding and respect.

This type of connection, in turn, is critical for a marriage’s well-being because it provides a solid foundation for the couple to grow and thrive together.

Key Areas of a Successful Marriage

As you can see, understanding and meeting each other’s emotional needs, in whatever way is relevant and practical for each couple, is a critical component of establishing a successful marriage.

Because, at its most basic, when a couple in a marriage understands and meets each other’s emotional needs, they are essentially laying the groundwork for a strong and healthy relationship.

As a result, they will be able to rely on one another for support and comfort during difficult times.

Because they have a stronger bond, they will be able to enjoy each other’s company more.

While we’re on the subject, there are a few key reasons why a strong couple bond is important for a marriage.

For starters, as previously stated, when a couple has a strong bond, they can better understand and support each other.

This support is especially important during difficult times when a couple can rely on each other to overcome obstacles.

Furthermore, a couple with a strong bond is more likely to have a happy and fulfilling marriage because they can share a deep and meaningful connection with each other.

When this connection exists, a couple can help each other grow and learn, and they can rely on each other in difficult times.

Furthermore, because a strong emotional connection often translates into an intimate physical relationship, a strong connection between a couple tends to form the foundation of an intimate marriage.

If a couple in marriage does not understand and meet each other’s emotional and physical needs, the relationship will most likely suffer.

One significant possibility is that the couple will grow estranged from one another and may even begin to resent one another.

Lack of fulfilment in emotional and physical needs can often lead to one or both spouses withdrawing, or in some cases, affairs or other types of cheating.

The cold hard reality is that if the needs are not met, the relationship will most likely end.

However, if the couple has a strong emotional connection and both partners are able to meet each other’s needs, they will be able to create an intimate marriage and avoid the ruin of their relationship.

Take Away

The one big takeaway from the four key areas of a successful marriage for me, learning from experience and research, is that couples must remember to always communicate with each other, even when it’s difficult to do so.

Talking about anything and everything is required here.

Because effective communication allows couples to ensure that they are always on the same page and that they are able to resolve any issues that may arise as soon as they arise, communication is essential in any relationship.

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a renowned relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website shares valuable insights on creating healthy relationships life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling more than a decade ago. In addition, he since completed post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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