The way I see it, you have two choices when it comes to avoiding divorce altogether. The first is pretty darn obvious, you don’t get married. If you don’t marry, you technically don’t divorce. At least, that’s how most guys look at it.
The second is to do that working-at-your-marriage thing we keep harping about. The reason? Statistics reveal that most divorced guys get back on the saddle and give marriage another shot at some point in their lives. Interested in how they fare, I did some digging.
Here’s the nitty and the gritty behind what married dudes claim is the ticket to building (and keeping) a successful marriage.
The Seriously Serious Six Tips to a Successful Marriage
Love Potion No. 9 is bologna. You’ve got that much down. But other than the obvious “work at it” and “talk to your partner” brouhaha we’d like you to do and keep doing until you’re blue in the face, there are other things you can keep in mind. While we aren’t specifically telling you what to do (but we kind of are), consider that the advice comes straight from men you can relate to, divorced guys.
So here they are, countdown style.
6. Marry a Similar Spender.
Are you the self-proclaimed King of the Tightwads? If so, find your queen. Go out of your way to find a woman who can see your frugality and raise you a lump of coal-turned-diamond.
The science behind “opposites attract” is legit. Most frugal warriors tend to end up with super spenders. Attracted to the freethinking ways of these folks, it becomes easy to get lost in the fantasy of living off an imaginary trust fund.
Instead, exercise control. Nothing is as it seems, remember? She may actually have a trust fund or rich uncle or annuity coming from the state lottery, but chances are, you don’t. And that caution-to-the-wind way of living won’t last regardless of who her fairy godmother might be.
5. Get Close. Then, Get Closer.
A couple’s sexual chemistry is telling of the type (and level of intimacy) of relationship they have. It’s inately how humans connect. Part of our DNA is encoded in one way or another to be attracted to another person for the purposes of mating. And if some mating is good, more is always better.
And I’m not wrong. A study published in a journal called Social Psychological and Personality Science proves what I’m saying. In it, scientists Michelle Russell and James McNulty of the University of Tennessee concluded that moody, neurotic people who engaged in more frequent sex with their respective partners experienced better outcomes.
Ergo, if you’re a moody person, have sex. If your partner is moody, have sex. Win, win. Right?
4. Be Grateful. Then Say, “Thank you.”
You have to mean it when you say it. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? There’s this sense of entitlement like, “I took out the garbage and washed the dishes, so I don’t owe you a ‘thank you’ for the dinner that took you six hours to prepare.”
If you’ve ever felt that way, don’t eat the dinner. A healthy marriage isn’t based on tit-for-tat.
Instead, be nice. A foreign concept to some who may be thinking, “I work hard and all she does is…” Nope! Stop there. The old adage is true. You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will vinegar. Don’t be a jerk.
In 2007, researchers from Arizona State University asked married partners and student roomies whether they appreciated the chores done by the other person. Most said they felt gratitude but couldn’t express it. In short, don’t just assume your mate knows you care. Say it.
3. Recognize the Annoyance Factor
You get annoyed. It’s natural. You’re human. You have a short attention span and are probably already waiting for me to get to the damn point.
So what am I trying to say?
You need to bite the bullet and accept that you do that same thing (or many others) too. The annoying behavior you loathe to loathe in your partner is also in you. It happens over time.
In fact, in 2008, at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, a research fellow named Kira Birditt presented research proving you, sir, can and will become annoyed by a myriad of things your partner does. You’re not crazy. And it’ll happen in every relationship you’re in. It’s actually happened since you were a wee young lad.
Recognize it. And think of ways to spend some time alone or with the guys doing guy stuff. Retain your identity. Don’t think that suddenly liking the same stuff your spouse does will make it any more tolerable. You’ll only end up hating her for it in the end.
2. Don’t Be a Weenie.
You teach people how they’ll treat you. I include your spouse in that statement.
While it seems unproductive for me to tell you to stand up for yourself, science has actually proven that you should. Some couples thrive on negativity. The relentless back and forth forces you to talk to each other. Inadvertently, you air out your grievances – some you might not have known you had.
James McNulty of the University of Tennesse agrees. Perhaps the behavior motivates and provokes change within the partners.
1. You’ll Get Back What You Put In, So Give It Your All.
Work at it. Then, work some more. There’s no secret to how couples get to the 20-year mark excited to have 20 more. They work at it.
To get there, think it through. What do you want? That’s honestly what matters. Your own heart will tell you what you will or won’t do for it.
A healthy marriage won’t come overnight. Most of the enduring ones I know went through their share of the worst possible situations. Everything from infidelity to disease to poverty was thrown at them. But they knew what they wanted and what they were willing to do to have it.
Research has suggested that couples who work at having a healthy marriage spend time and really care about the relationship. Novel experiences can stimulate the production of norepinephrine. It’s the hormone responsible for all those feelings of puppy love in the beginning. Bianca Acevedo, a post-doctoral researcher authored a study at Stony Brook University. She claims love can last, but you have to be open to creating opportunities for it.
If it all makes you want to throw your hands in the air, yeah, no, it’s not for out. Go with our first option and don’t get married in the first place. But if you’re willing, and if you give a damn about what you have, put in the work.
Start by marring someone with similar financial values as your own. When you do, liven up your sex lives, and be openly grateful for their contributions to the marriage. Recognize that you, too, are as annoying as you claim she is. So spend some time apart. Stand up for yourself in arguments and speak your mind. But always give it your all.
If it were easy, everyone would have half-century-long marriages. They’d be everywhere. If you want one. And you’re serious. Put in the work with these six easy steps to a healthy marriage.
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