Couples from across the globe share four basic rules of a happy marriage. And guess what? Love and understanding aren't top criteria on that list!
In a world of instant gratification and quick-fix so lutions, when someone talks about the `secret to a successful, happy marriage', one is bound to snigger. After all, isn't `happily married' an oxymoron today? However, when relationship expert and author of Happy Wives Club, Fawn Weaver, interviewed 10,000 happily-married couples from 110 countries across the world, she was quite surprised to find that love and understanding weren't topmost on a couple's list to keep a marriage going strong. She identified certain habits that happy couples have in common across societies.We talk to experts and decode them.
MARRIAGE BEFORE KIDS
Harsheen K Arora, clinical psychologist and relationship expert says that in order to make parenthood work, couples need to make their marriage work first. "Your children get the first introduction to what a relationship is from watching you and your spouse together.Focussing on your relationship with your partner, especially after you have had kids is very important.When one becomes a parent, it becomes even more important to remember why you and your spouse came together in the first place -the things you like about each other, the things you like to do together -as these are the things that keep you going even when you are in a stressful situation. Children with happy, content parents have the best chance of growing up to be happy, fulfilled adults." Putting your marriage first doesn't mean neglecting your kids - it means investing in the fundamental glue that holds your family together.
DIVORCE ISN'T AN OPTION
Most of the couples had decided at the start of their marriage that they would subtract divorce from the equation, no matter what. Take the example of Holly wood star couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. Despite the temptations and pressures of celebrity life, they have been married for 17 years and recently confessed that one of the reasons their marriage has survived is because they didn't have a plan B. "What I found is divorce just can't be an option. It's really that simple. So a huge part of the success for (Jada) and I is that we just removed the other options," said Will in a TV interview.
ENHANCE THE ROMANCE
Do you laugh at couples who have a silly, daily ritual of romance? Believe it or not, maintaining small rituals can drastically enhance, sustain and build a more meaningful marriage. From having breakfast together every morning to keeping aside time to watch a movie every week, each of the couples interviewed maintained at least one practice for years. Psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh says, "What couples refer to as rituals, are in fact spontaneous patterns that have formed over the years.These rituals or patterns form because of similar interests and understandings that partners hold, and these rituals then move on to form a unique sense of dyad - creating an identity of togetherness. Even when couples hit a rough patch, these patterns can serve as a defence and continue to remind the partners about the good times that they've shared."
TOO MUCH EMOTIONAL DEPENDENCE IS BAD
Dr Uttam Dave, sexologist and relationship counsellor explains, "Too much togetherness can be claustrophobic for both partners. By venturing out, they can share their experiences with each other and build an ongoing line of communication. It will also give them some personal space. A hobby is a very good way to unwind the stress of daily living and return rejuvenated to the relationship. It also keeps the heart chakra in balance, which is responsible for a good relationship." By maintaining separate identities, couples aren't emotionally dependent on one another for their well-being, which helps their marriage thrive.
MUTUAL RESPECT ISN'T OPTIONAL
Constructive communication is the key while humbly remaining open to each other's views.
Supporting and encouraging each other's individual dreams and aspirations while also having some shared dreams.
Role demarcations for shared living based on individual skill sets with independent decision-making.Suggestions can be given, but the final authority lies with the one whose role it is.
Agree to disagree respectfully if preferences, likes and dislikes do not match.
Strike a balance between `we' timespace and `me' timespace, negotiating the dailyweekly schedule in a mutually acceptable way.
Listen to each other attentively, empathically, and actively without any prejudice or assumptions.