1) Happy couples never argue
Even the happiest and most stable couples have their fights. What makes a good marriage is not simply ‘chemistry’ but how the partners handle conflict.
2) You can influence your partner to be more in line with your thinking/values
69% of conflicts involve such perpetual or irresolvable problems. For example, Meg wants to have children, but Donald does not. Walter always wants more sex than Dana does. Chris always flirts at parties, and Susan hates it. John wants to bring the kids up Catholic, Linda wants to raise them Jewish.
Couples spend years and huge amounts of energy trying to change the other person, but significant disagreements are about values and different ways of seeing the world – things that don’t change. The successful couple knows this and attempts to live with or incorporate the conflict nevertheless.
3) Happy marriages are open and honest
The truth is, plenty of good marriages shove a lot of issues ‘under the rug’. When many couples have a fight, the man will storm off to watch TV, and the woman will storm off to talk to friends or go shopping. When they see each other a couple of hours later, it has all blown over and they are pleased to see each other again. Many partnerships remain stable and satisfied without an airing of deep feelings.
4) Men and women are too different and this causes issues
70% of couples said that the quality of friendship with their partner was the determining factor in happiness, not gender or anything else.
5) The more arguments a couple has predicts the likelihood of divorce
What following predicts an increased likelihood of divorce:
- contempt for one another
- lack of empathy
- blaming the other person for everything
- disengaging or stonewalling
In 85% of marriages, it is the man who is the stonewaller. This is because the male cardiovascular system recovers from stress more slowly. A man’s response to conflict is likely to be more indignant, with thoughts of getting even or ‘I don’t have to take this’. Women, on the other hand, are better able to soothe themselves down following a stressful situation, which also explains why women nearly always have to raise the issues of conflict in the relationship and men try to avoid them.
Regular emotional ‘flooding’ is when either partner are overwhelmed by verbal attacks from the other. When we are attacked, heart rate and blood pressure go up and hormones are released, including adrenaline. On a physiological level we experience verbal attacks as a threat to our survival.
When frequent flooding occurs, each partner’s wish to avoid the experience results in them emotionally disengaging with each other.
How to have a happy marriage
Be good friends and take an interest in each other’s lives. Make time for each other – giving each other attention once a year on Valentine’s day pales in comparison to the small daily treats and thoughtful acts in a relationship.
Treating each other with respect and empathy, being non judgemental and supportive and making time to let your partner know they are special in many small ways all contribute to a marriage/ relationship that will go the extra mile and withstand the usual conflict we all face in relationships.