The experience of others is a valuable resource.

Though Rachel and I have only been married a month, I have spent decades learning from others who have devoted their lives to marriage, largely within my own family.


I don't think a marriage should be treated like a game or treated like something delicate to be abandoned at the first indication of trouble.


A lifetime commitment is precisely that, but we all know that it takes work, effort, compromise, respect, and love to make it work.


In any case, why do some couples manage to "make it" while others don't? While there is no one cause for success, I have found that the following 10 strategies provide their implementers the greatest odds of achievement.


Their friendship is the number one reason.

The greatest and healthiest relationships are founded on a foundation of friendship, yet there is such a thing as the feared "friend zone."


Layers of closeness and friendship are necessary for forming a link that lasts for decades. While intimacy is the spark that lights the fire, friendship is the glue that keeps everything together.


The fact is that life is long, and that means you and your partner will have to work through difficulties that can't be solved by physical proximity alone.


Friendship, the enjoyment of one another's company without romantic attachment, will be the glue that holds you together through the ups and downs of parenthood and beyond.


It's a shared household in which they all participate equally.

You may remember the tale of how Rachel and I met during the pandemic lockdown and talked for months through video chat before we finally met in person, and I really feel that the fact that we didn't hold back during our chats was a major contributor to our strong connection.


Both of us had reached points in our life where we had little interest in frivolous activities like playing games or having a one-night stand, much less doing so during a pandemic.


We wanted to find out everything there was to know about each other before deciding to "give it a go," so that we could be confident we were both on the same page and seeking the same things.


It's reasonable to say the stars aligned now that we've been married for over three years.


Most individuals, you see, lack the time to pause and take the effort to get to know someone thoroughly. They're drawn to one other for some reason, perhaps because of shared interests or an activity they like, but that doesn't guarantee they're a good fit for a committed relationship.


We learned to take our time and have more in-depth conversations as a result of the epidemic, and we continue to do so often. That's how we got started, so that's how we've kept going.


In short, they do not solve the problem.



I'll try to explain:


Many married pairs, when confronted with difficulties, allow the tension between them grow or rekindle past fights.


They let their feelings get the better of them and fail to address the underlying problem.


As a unit, strong and healthy marriages tackle problems when they arise. The challenge is not each other, but the opponent.


It's not "you and me against each other because of the difficulty," but rather "you and me against the task."


That's why they're number four on the list: they keep the fire burning.

Friendliness is crucial as a cornerstone of every relationship (see point #1), but let's be honest: regular, healthy romantic encounters are also essential.


When it comes to intimacy, every couple has their own unique ideas and preferences. As long as two adults are acting on their own volition and finding satisfaction in the activities they are partaking in, there is no "wrong" choice.


Perhaps it's as simple as signing up for a knitting class together.


Basically, whatever gets your motor running.


Only the requirement of continued upkeep is truly universal. If you ignore the smoldering embers for too long, they will go out completely.


Intimacy and romance are like flames; they need constant tending or they would go out.


They've made the decision to forgive, which is point number five.

Picture this: you've decided to spend the rest of your life with someone, but the cumulative effects of all the times you (or they) have messed up weigh on the relationship until it's no longer enjoyable.


Eventually, the burden would be too much for you two to bear, let alone bearable.


The fact is that you, too, are human and prone to error.


and you need to forgive them before you can move on (within reason).


Let's be clear: not all transgressions can be overlooked. There should never be any tolerance for abuse (of any kind), infidelity, or treachery. It's important to remember that a marriage is not a free pass on the rest of your life, and that there are bounds to everything.


Sixth, they are appreciative of one another and regularly show it.

Gratitude for the other person's choice is essential in any relationship. They need to recognize the gravity of this commitment and never take it for granted.


Having someone select you for a committed partnership is one of the finest forms of recognition possible. You're the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and they could have their pick of anyone. This is really significant, and we must not discount its significance.


Another aspect of this is expressing your appreciation to your mate. They equate a lack of emotion with an absence of reality.


Seven: They push one another to improve.

Before we met, Rachel and I were quite different individuals. Because she brought in two kids when I had absolutely little experience with kids, I've been propelled along a journey of self-discovery and expansion into realms I never knew existed. As a spouse, business owner, and human being in addition to a bonus dad.


Together, we've developed into a stable family unit. We're living in the home of our dreams, driving the vehicles of our dreams, and doing the trips of a lifetime.


But making money isn't the point; that takes time and effort. For us to reach our shared goals, we must each develop into the person who can do so.


It would be unhealthy for our relationship if one of us tried to hold the other back, compete with them, or otherwise discourage their interests and goals.


Even worse, it would impede our progress toward the life we both want.


If we want our spouse to continue selecting us every day, we need to give them room to develop and trust that they will.


In number eight, they are able to maintain their identity.

A client of mine used to invest so much time and energy into his relationships that he neglected his own hobbies and interests.


To impress the girl he liked, he'd do anything she asked, refrain from voicing his own thoughts if doing so may cause friction, and generally lose himself in the prospect of a romantic relationship.


...till the day came that it would have to cease.


Why? For the simple reason that two unique people with their own perspectives, values, and goals are required for any meaningful partnership to exist. It's impossible for one to fully absorb the other; doing so would lead to boredom and confusion.


If all you do is agree with the other person and say what they want to hear, how can they ever know who you are or what you stand for?


You, as much as them, will benefit from learning more about one another.


When you know who you are and why you're here, you can bring that certainty to the table and work effectively as a member of a team.


One thing unites all championship teams throughout sports:


They assemble a group of top professionals in a given field, and the resulting synergy is remarkable.


The same holds true for romantic partnerships: when both partners are able to let their individuality and authenticity emerge, there is no way for either to come out on top.


9. They cooperate well as a unit.

Let's go into that final point a bit more...


I like to think of my significant other and myself as a team, thus I use the term "teammate" when describing us.


Together, we are a family, a team, and a community, doing everything from parenting to housework to career advancement to community service in order to create a life that is rich in love, peace, and happiness for our children and ourselves.


When one party to a relationship does to fulfill their obligations or does actions that might have a negative impact on the outcomes, the entire connection is weakened.


The comparison to a sports team is apt. Everything a quarterback does to throw the ball is for naught if no one catches it.


You may ignore the question of whose talents and abilities are whose and focus instead on how to best utilize your own to come out on top.


They make the same daily decision to be with each other.

When you wake up in a relationship, you have a new opportunity to decide how you want to proceed with it.


In other words, you have the option of continuing your relationship with this individual or not.


Not every situation is so simple. Life is complicated and complex; I'm not suggesting you can just pick up and leave everything behind, including children, homes, dogs, shared assets, and a joint company. However, there are exceptions.


In some cases, a considerably more involved strategy is necessary; in fact, it may even be required by law.


The healthiest and longest-lasting partnerships never consider this option.


You automatically become their friend, and they instantly become yours.


When I made the decision to marry Rachel, I committed to her for the rest of my life. As much as she is my person, I am also hers. That is an active decision that I reaffirm each morning when I open my eyes.


As committed partners, we need to view each other through the prism of the long haul. To fully grasp and internalize the promises we have made to one another, and to conduct our daily lives accordingly.


That is a lot of labor, and you're right to assume as much. To put it bluntly, this is why so many marriages fail; ultimately, one or both partners lose up.


Making something lovely and lasting out of our time together.


Nothing can stand in the way of a pledge like that, especially when both partners are committed to keeping it every day.