by Dr. Shannon Warden
10 Tips for Successful Couples was first posted on shannonwarden.com
Successful couples know they need help with their relationship. That’s why successful couples are successful—they regularly think about how to build one another up, work through issues, and grow their relationship in healthy ways.
Not every couple is always successful, though. I hear this in the counseling office and in everyday conversations. I know, too, from firsthand experience as a married person that it takes work to stay happily married. Let’s face it—most of us as couples need at least a little help successfully achieving a I Corinthians 13 relationship.
Below, you’ll find 10 tips for successful couples that I compiled from a 12-session marriage class I recently taught. These are simple truths that I’ve learned from my studies over time, my work as a professional counselor, and my own personal experiences. These will likely be familiar to you and, I hope, a helpful reminder of some things we can do to be successful couples.
Celebrate what’s right in the relationship. Looking for and being grateful for the good can help change how you feel about the not-so-good. Successful couples often express appreciation for and to one another and make the most of their strengths.
Accept differences in opinion and perspective. So many of us fight battles that can be avoided when we accept that we’re not going to agree 100% of the time. Remembering Matthew 22:39 can help here: “Love your neighbor as yourself” [even if you don’t agree on how to fold the laundry :-)].
Believe that you’re both right to some degree. Admit it! Our loved ones are not wrong nearly as often as we might like to believe. Successful couples validate one another and work together to solve problems as opposed to competing against one another. [Be encouraged: Experts have determined that swallowing your pride is not hazardous to your health.]
Choose to forgive one another. Generally speaking, we can be more gracious and forgiving of each other’s imperfections. Too many of us are too good at “knit-picking.” I’m personally convicted here, especially when I think about my own shortcomings and how God has forgiven me (Matthew 6:9-13; Romans 3:23). I forgive more easily when I think about this.
Learn to trust each other. Successful couples value each other’s partnership in life and protect each other and their relationship at all costs. This means that we’re trustworthy, dependable people that our loved ones can count on. [If you brought mistrust issues from previous relationships, or if there is disloyalty or hurt between the two of you, professional counseling may be helpful for support and direction.]
Don’t take each other for granted. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and abandon our friendship and romance. To counter this, successful couples get creative. They do things like speak other’s love language, for example. To learn more about The Five Love Languages and take the free online quiz, go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Know what season your marriage is in, and do the work that is required of that season. Our relationships experience many spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons. Each season has its joys and challenges, and each has potential for emotional closeness and emotional distance. Successful couples pay attention to their relationship, sense seasonal challenges, and do the work that is required in each season to grow closer together. For more insight, watch as Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Freda Crews discuss the four seasons of marriage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFV7_mTkznM
Husbands love your wives. Wives respect your husbands. This counsel comes directly from Ephesians 5:33: “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” Both men and women want and need love and respect. Yet, as Dr. Emerson Eggerichs teaches in his book, Love and Respect, women often value love over respect, whereas men often value respect over love. Successful couples work to understand and appreciate the love-and-respect balance in their relationship.
Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit to improve your relationship. This requires us tending our relationship with God. No relationship with God means no spiritual fruit. No spiritual fruit means difficult relationships. It’s as easy as that. What do you need to do to cultivate more fruit of the Spirit? As a reminder, those fruit are: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
It may be you! Do your part! We can be really good at blaming the other person for our relationship failures when sometimes it’s actually us—me and you—that are responsible for the tension we’re feeling in our relationship. We each must take accountability for our individual contribution to the relationship, stop making excuses, and get busy doing our fair share to make the relationship more successful.
In closing …
If you’re like me and so many, change doesn’t happen fast. But, it doesn’t happen at all if we don’t start somewhere! Why not start with one or more of these 10 Tips for Successful Couples? Small steps are better than no steps!!
Dr. Shannon Warden is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and based in Kernersville, NC. She serves on the Board of Directors for Great Families of the Triad. For more resources from Shannon and to learn how you can seek counseling through her private practice or invite her to your church to speak, please visit www.shannonwarden.com.