Keys to Successful Marriage: The Top 10 Ways to Succeed in Your Marriage

by Gideon
February 4, 2022

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This post looks at the keys to successful marriage and how to succeed in your relationship rather than face the realities of marital decay and divorce.

It is a known fact that marriages around the globe are constantly being threatened by various things, the least of which include the lack of understanding and fulfilling of your spouse’s needs.

Now, with that said, and even though all relationships are different, there are ways to make your marriage more successful that are proven to work compared to others.

It is, therefore, the goal of this article to provide you with the top 10 ways to succeed in your marriage without having to figure it all out on your own.

The Top 10 Keys to a Successful Marriage

Now, first of all, I must admit that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to creating a successful marriage, but there are some general tips that can help make any marriage successful.

Here are the top 10 keys to a successful marriage I want to discuss today:

  • prioritising your marriage
  • commitment
  • trust
  • respect
  • friendship
  • a positive emotional climate
  • communication
  • regular sex
  • healthy finances
  • interdependent independence.

Make a conscious decision to prioritize your marriage

Prioritizing your marriage is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your spouse because you are committing to prioritising your relationship above all else.

As you may be aware, there are several reasons why it is critical to commit to putting your relationship first.

For starters, prioritising your relationship increases your likelihood of making time for each other and being more attentive and responsive to your partner.

This, in and of itself, can help to strengthen your bond and improve communication, which, of course, has a direct impact on your marriage’s satisfaction and happiness levels.

Consider this: when someone prioritises us, we feel important, which increases our sense of self-worth and trust in that person.

As a result, when we feel good about ourselves and trust our spouses, we are more likely to form a strong and intimate bond with them and to communicate truthfully and honestly with them.

That, when combined, will almost certainly lead to greater levels of satisfaction in our marriage.

Keys to Successful Marriage

Furthermore, by prioritising your relationship, you are more likely to invest in your marriage and the process of growing and improving as a couple, which is important for a couple of reasons.

The most important reason, for example, is that your marriage is the foundation of your family.

When your marriage is strong, your family is usually strong as well, because a strong marriage provides security and stability for your children and can help them grow up to be emotionally healthy adults.

So, why not prioritise your marriage?

It will transform you into a better person.

It will help to strengthen your family.

It will make your life better.

The Importance of Commitment in a Marriage

When two people marry, they make a commitment to each other, which is essential in any successful relationship, let alone marriage.

This commitment is critical because it is what holds the marriage together, and if either partner is not committed, the marriage will fail.

Now, the reason I say that may be for a different reason than you think.

Commitment, psychologically speaking, creates a sense of certainty, safety, stability, and predictability – all of which are essential components of a stable relationship.

When one spouse does not feel a strong commitment from the other at any point in time, the relationship is doomed.

It is extremely difficult for us as humans to be in a situation, including a relationship, when we are unsure of the boundaries, where it is going, what will happen next, how the person will react, and so on.

We require a healthy level of certainty and predictability in order to feel secure enough in ourselves and our situation to be willing to become more vulnerable and invest more of ourselves.

In many cases, couples who tend to hold back in a relationship do so due to uncertainty.

In other words, they’re unsure of where things truly stand, how their partners perceive them, and where things are headed.

As a result, they wait to see what happens.

If you want to have a successful marriage, you must understand the significance of commitment in a marriage.

Your spouse must believe that you have their back, that you are committed to them and your marriage, and that they can rely on you no matter what.

When that is not present, you will feel the consequences very clearly.

And, as I’ve learned, the most powerful way to communicate your commitment to someone and your relationship is through concrete actions and behaviours rather than nice-sounding words.

The Importance of Trust in a Marriage

When two people marry, they tend to build a life together that is founded on trust.

This trust becomes the foundation of their relationship, allowing them to face and overcome most obstacles together, as well as achieve specific outcomes.

However, without that trust in a marriage, everything else becomes exponentially more difficult.

For example, if you don’t trust your spouse, you won’t be able to rely on them, which could lead to other issues in the relationship.

Furthermore, trust, like commitment, allows you to feel safe and secure with your spouse, which is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Keys to Successful Marriage

Consider this for a moment: when you trust someone, how does that affect your relationship with them? 

Usually, when we trust someone, we are more likely to share personal information with them and be more open in their presence.

We may also be more likely to rely on them and trust their judgement, i.e., we listen to them.

In other words, trust is central to any successful marriage because it encourages us to open up to the person we trust.

The Importance of Respect in a Marriage

Respect, like trust, is one of the most important aspects of a successful marriage because when both partners show respect for each other, it builds a foundation of trust and understanding, which aids in the development of a strong and lasting relationship.

Furthermore, feeling respected in a marriage directly feeds our self-worth, which has a significant impact on our personal happiness and willingness to express ourselves openly and transparently.

However, the inverse is also true.

We tend to clam up as a type of defence mechanism when we feel disrespected and unvalued, or worse, judged and less important.

According to Dr John Gottman’s research, one of the world’s most renowned researchers, contempt is one of the most dangerous threats that can appear in your relationship.

In essence, contempt is a feeling or attitude that expresses disrespect for someone or something, and it is usually based on feelings of superiority which can be demonstrated through words or actions.

In a marriage, for example, contempt is frequently displayed when one partner makes disparaging remarks about the other partner, or when they roll their eyes or hissy fit when the other partner is speaking.

It can also involve one partner completely ignoring the other.

The above type of behaviour is extremely damaging to a relationship because it easily breeds resentment and a lack of trust, both of which are critical for the well-being and success of a marriage.

Contempt can easily lead to bitterness and a breakdown in communication over time, eventually destroying the relationship entirely.

As a result, having a genuine and deep respect for your spouse, both in word and deed, not only creates a positive environment in your relationship but also establishes self-worth and trust, which combats any feelings of contempt that have the power to destroy your relationship.

The Importance of Friendship in a Marriage

Is your relationship with your spouse still one of being friends, if not best friends? Have you ever been friends?

If you compare them to your other friends, would you say that they’re similar but also distinct?

A second, and equally important question is, how well do you still know your spouse?

Dr John Gottman frequently discusses the importance of creating what he refers to as “Love Maps” for your spouse and how critical this is for maintaining a healthy, intimate, and lasting relationship.

According to Dr Gottman, the principle behind creating Love Maps is simple: knowing the intricacies of your partner’s life lays a solid foundation for your friendship and intimacy.

As a result, it is essential to get to know your partner and to keep rediscovering them as you both grow older and evolve as people.

Because you and your spouse are no longer the same people you were five, ten, or thirty years ago.

Of course, you are in many ways, but in others, such as physically, mentally, emotionally, experience, goals, and so on, you are most likely not.

Simple things like asking your spouse about their favourite childhood memory, discussing their greatest challenges, and learning about their current fears and dreams are all part of creating Love Maps.

Your marriage will never achieve the levels of happiness, peace, and intimacy that it is capable of achieving without this type of ongoing and growing intimate friendship.

That of course leads to another key component of any friendship, and also marriage – having a positive emotional climate.

The Importance of a Positive Emotional Climate in a Marriage

A marriage that lacks a culture of fondness and admiration is doomed to fail because a culture of deep affection and positive regard between two spouses is required for their marriage to foster a positive emotional climate.

This climate is typically marked by positive emotions such as love, warmth, happiness, and satisfaction, but it also includes admiration, respect, and appreciation for one another.

The most important aspect of a culture of fondness and admiration is that when spouses have this type of culture in their relationship, they are more likely to feel good about themselves and their relationship, which naturally leads to higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, personal well-being, trust, and intimacy (including physical and sexual intimacy).

Furthermore, they are more likely to be responsive to each other’s needs and desires, which will naturally encourage the development of a strong emotional bond between partners.

That is significant in and of itself because there is a large body of evidence supporting the notion that a strong emotional connection is one of the primary predictors of a happy marriage which essentially happens through the process of making and responding to our partner’s bids on a daily basis.

Couples who struggle with this have a higher chance of relationship dissatisfaction, negative interactions, eventual marital decline and eventual divorce.

Keys to Successful Marriage

But how do you foster a culture of fondness and admiration that leads to deeper levels of emotional connection, which leads to more happiness and intimacy?

One simple way for spouses to develop deeper levels of emotional connection is to actively show appreciation in their relationship on a daily basis, gradually uncovering more positive traits about each other.

Dr John Gottman discovered that happy couples continue to look for ways to celebrate the positive, even after years of marriage.

This could include saying things like, “You give the best hugs,” or “I’m not sure if I’ve told you this, but I really appreciate sitting with you and just enjoying your presence.”

The point is, we all want to feel appreciated and valued, especially in our marriages.

When this culture of fondness and admiration is missing in a marriage, no amount of good intentions, material wealth or resources, or promises will be enough to keep your spouse around, because they will leave, even if it is just to create their own environment where they feel good about themselves without all the criticism, nagging, complaining, control, and manipulation.

So, just to be clear, if your behaviour, actions, or words threaten or harm the existence of a positive emotional climate in your marriage, your marriage is probably screwed! 

It goes without saying that actively threatening your partner’s sense of self-worth and them as a person in any way is a sure way to cause irreparable damage to your relationship that will be difficult to repair.

Once you have lost your spouse’s trust because you have consistently harmed his or her sense of worth, trust, and overall happiness, your marriage will begin to unravel very quickly.

Another aspect of a positive emotional climate that is frequently overlooked is the idea of having fun and experiencing adventures together.

Keys to Successful Marriage

Fun and adventure can help keep a marriage fresh and exciting by giving a couple new experiences or activities to enjoy together that can help build memories or “shared meaning,” as Dr Gottman refers to it.

In this regard, fun and adventure can help couples get to know each other better and add excitement to their relationship, resulting in positive emotional experiences.

Furthermore, a marriage that focuses on getting to know each other (see Love Maps), growing as people and experiencing things together, getting away for fun, trying new things together, and having a good time is more likely to feel satisfied and less frustrated over time.

The opposite is also true: without fun and adventure, a marriage can quickly become stale and boring.

This can lead to a loss of interest in the relationship over time, and it may even lead to one or both spouses becoming attracted to a different type of lifestyle or even other people.

Practically speaking, a lack of fun and adventure in a marriage can lead to a lack of communication and intimacy because a couple frequently finds themselves in a rut.

But what exactly is a “fun and adventurous marriage?”

It essentially entails spending a lot of time together for fun and adventure, doing fun and even new things together on a regular basis.

As a result, one or both spouses should feel free to suggest fun things to do together and should be willing to try new things together, as it is a good idea for married couples to continue looking for ways to develop their relationship.

However, it is also a good idea for newlyweds who want to learn more about each other and how they function as a couple in various settings.

The Importance of Communication in a Marriage

Apart from everything else mentioned already, building a strong, healthy connection with your partner also starts with intentional communication where you seek to understand each other.

By communicating this way, not only do you lay a platform for trust, respect, and friendship, you also create a context in which you can express yourselves and become more aware of each other’s feelings and needs.

That’s usually where genuine curiosity and open-ended questions come into play.

It is very difficult to share your thoughts and emotions by answering yes or no questions, but with open-ended questions, the door for deeper connectedness is unlocked.

The Importance of Regular Sex in a Marriage

Regular sex is important in a marriage because it helps keep the couple connected and keeps the relationship healthy in a variety of ways.

For example, sex releases endorphins, which can make couples feel happy and help them bond.

According to some studies, higher levels of sexual activity are also often correlated with positive improvements such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress, increased intimacy, and even a lower divorce rate. 

Now, that being said, however, although sex isn’t always necessary, it can be an essential component of a happy, satisfying relationship.

The importance, however, differs from person to person.

Some people believe that having a sexual relationship with their spouses is critical.

However, other forms of intimacy and connection may be more important to other couples.

Keys to Successful Marriage

That being said, sex can be important in a marriage for a number of reasons:

  • Feeling more connected to your 
  • Affectionately expressing yourself to your partner
  • It’s enjoyable
  • A strong desire to have children
  • Feeling sexy and confident
  • Stress Reduction

Additionally, according to research, having frequent sex can have an impact on a person’s overall well-being.

Additionally, it has also been shown that having sex is associated with greater levels of affection.

As a result, when couples feel more affection for one another, they are more likely to have more frequent sex. 

In that sense, I guess more frequent sex leads to more sex.

But, apart from the personal benefits for you and your partner, regular sex contributes to the health of your relationship in a variety of ways.

For example, the oxytocin released during sex increases a person’s sense of bonding and improves emotional intimacy between two people.

Having sex is also good for your emotions and your mental health.

Sex, for example, is strongly associated with a higher quality of life.

Among these advantages are the following:

  • Better self-image: Sex can increase self-esteem and decrease feelings of insecurity, resulting in more positive perceptions of ourselves.
  • Higher levels of happiness: According to a 2015 Chinese study, more consensual sex and higher quality sex increases happiness.
  • Even more bonding: During sex, brain chemicals such as endorphins are released, which reduce irritability and feelings of depression. Another hormone, oxytocin (the “hug drug”), rises in response to nipple stimulation and other forms of sexual activity, according to this paper. Oxytocin also promotes feelings of calm and contentment.
  • Stress reduction: Chronic stress may contribute to lower sex frequency. Sex, on the other hand, can be an effective stress-reduction technique. Sex lowers stress response hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine), with effects that last well into the next day. 1
  • Improved sleep quality: Orgasms cause the hormone prolactin to be released, which aids in sleep.

The Importance of Finances in a Marriage

Finances are one of the most important aspects of marriage because disagreements and tension can arise if you and your spouse are not on the same page financially.

When two people get married, they frequently make a promise to each other that they will love, honour, and cherish them through thick and thin.

When money problems arise, however, that thin can quickly become a lot thicker, as financial problems are one of the leading causes of tension and conflict in marriage.

In fact, financial stress and strain have been identified as one of the leading predictors of divorce.

That’s why it’s critical to start talking about money right off the bat.

But simply talking about money isn’t enough; you also need to work on your finances together.

Keys to Successful Marriage

However, if you are unable to reach an agreement on a plan, it is best to remove the emotion from the situation and seek the advice of a financial planner.

The Importance of Interdependent Independence in a Marriage

To begin, what exactly is interdependent independence?

In a nutshell, interdependent independence in marriage refers to the ability of spouses to be independent while still relying on one another.

It is the ability to live independent lives while remaining in a relationship.

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as having separate finances or social lives.

The point aim is to have a healthy interdependence rather than an unhealthy reliance on one another.

Interdependent independence is ultimately important in a marriage because it allows both individuals to retain their individual identities while also remaining united as a couple.

It is obvious that spouses must be able to rely on each other, but they must also be able to stand on their own.

This is often referred to as being both interdependent and independent.

It’s a delicate balance that must be maintained.

You must be able to accept healthy independence within the context of marriage in order to create a healthy interconnected relationship.

Couples who are overly reliant on each other can easily become fused and codependent, which can lead to a slew of problems.

When one or both spouses become codependent, they may find themselves overly reliant on their partner and unable to make decisions or take action without their partner’s approval.

This can cause tension and conflict because each spouse may feel controlled by the other.

Furthermore, codependent spouses are more likely to tolerate or ignore abusive behaviour from their partner, which can be hazardous and harmful.

To avoid all of that, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s autonomy are essential components of creating intimacy in marriage.

Take Away

The big takeaway point of the keys to successful marriage is that successful marriages are ultimately built on a foundation of trust, communication, and mutual respect.

When two people are married, they form a unit, and as such, successful couples strive to understand and respect each other’s differences, and to communicate their needs and expectations while growing both on a personal and relationship level.

About the author 

Gideon

Gideon is the founder of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a top-50 relationship blog (2021) and top-100 marriage blog (2021) which focuses on providing healthy relationship advice about love and life. He earned a Master's degree in theological studies before training as a professional counsellor and hypnotherapist (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.) almost 10 years ago. He completed a graduate diploma in Psychology and is currently pursuing postgraduate Psychology studies at Massey University. He has been married to his wife for over sixteen years and is the father of two children. His articles have been published on Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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