In today’s world, many people are struggling to build a strong relationship. They feel like they don’t know what to do or where to start. In this article we offer practical tips and help on how to build a marriage that really works.
How would you define a strong relationship? What makes a marriage last?
The average American couple spends over $100,000 dollars on wedding expenses alone. And according to a recent survey, only 15% of marriages survive beyond 20 years.
There are several ways to build a successful marriage. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the key ingredients to building a lasting union.
In This Article
- 5 Principles For Married Couples
- 9 Simple Steps To Build A Healthy Relationship
- Final Thoughts on How To Build A Marriage That Really Works
The Lego Set
For Christmas one year I bought one of my grandsons a Lego set. It’s awesome. He is four but has a knack for building things.
He loves to snap the pieces together and create buildings, cars, and futuristic looking aircraft.
As I watched him work on one of his creations, I couldn’t help but think about how building a good marriage is a lot like snapping lego pieces together.
In this article, we will discuss nine pieces that need to be put together to create a healthy and strong relaitonship.
5 Principles For Married Couples
Before we jump in to some practical steps you can take to build a healthy relationship – one that lasts – let’s lay the groundwork with a few principles you need to understand.
Building a marriage that works is an active process of giving yourself the time and space to think about and discuss what is important to you, so that you can fully meet each other’s needs, and be open to making changes for the better.
Principle #1: A Great Marriage Is Not Automatic
It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require some work.
What does it take to create a successful relationship? Is it luck or skill? Or both?
The term “love at first sight” has become clichéd, but it’s true that love is something that develops over time. In fact, research shows that the majority of couples who get married after meeting each other only fall in love after they’ve been together for several years.
Love isn’t always instant. If you want to build a lasting relationship, you need to invest in it. This means being open to change, having patience, and learning to communicate effectively. These things will help you develop a strong foundation for a long-lasting relationship.
Principle #2: The Necessity To Embrace Change
We all change. Even those who think they don’t, do.
Change is inevitable. It’s essential to accept that things won’t stay the same forever. The only way to deal with change is to adapt to it. It’s vital to expect and embrace change so you don’t get stuck.
Change is actually good, so keep it in perspective.
There are many different reasons why change is necessary in order to build a strong marriage.
The first reason for change is the need to grow together through life changes.
Changes in life can be due to job loss, relocation, or retirement.
These changes can also happen because of children leaving home or for other reasons.
When these things happen, there needs to be a way for the spouses to work through these changes together.
The second reason for change is the need for understanding and empathy.
This means that both spouses need to understand what it feels like when they are on the other side of an argument or situation that they may not have had before.
The third reason for change is the need to compromise and negotiate more often than not.
You must learn to agree to disagree. You must find ways to make compromises. And you must learn to give up your own wants and desires if they aren’t compatible with your partner’s.
If you don’t compromise, then you’ll end up fighting constantly.
If you don’t learn to negotiate, you’ll never reach any kind of agreement.
And finally, the fourth reason for change is the necessity to forgive and forget.
Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon against bitterness and resentment.
Resentment is one of the biggest enemies of happiness. When you hold onto resentments, you’re holding back from moving forward.
Forgiving someone else is a big step towards healing.
So, as you can see, change is inevitable.
But you don’t have to let it destroy your relationship.
By embracing change, you can build a stronger relationship.
Principle #3: Values Are The Key To Building A Marriage That Works
Find your values and agree to pursue them together.
I’ve always found it amusing that we will take months to plan a beach vacation, but not spend a day defining our values and creating a plan to achieve our relationship goals.
We are all familiar with the saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I believe this is true in relationships as well. If you don’t have your personal values and priorities defined, you could wind up doing anything just to please your spouse. Or worse, doing nothing to make your relationship meaningful.
Your values are what guide you in every aspect of your life. They should inform everything you do.
They should also be shared by your spouse.
If you don’t share the same values, you will have difficulty building a lasting relationship.
In fact, studies show that couples who don’t share the same values tend to break up much faster than those who do.
Your values are key components of your relationship. They serve as part of the foundation that makes your marriage work.
Without them, you won’t have a strong foundation upon which to build a healthy marriage.
How do you define your values?
What are your core beliefs about love, commitment, family, religion, money, career, etc.?
Think about the following questions:
- What does being happy mean to me?
- How important is honesty to my relationship?
- What is the most important thing in my life right now?
- What would I want my children to learn from their parents?
- What is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned so far in life?
- What is the most significant accomplishment I’ve achieved in my life?
- What am I willing to sacrifice for my loved ones?
These questions merely scratch the surface. Spend time with your spouse and discuss the things that matter most to you and your family.
This allows you to snap the pieces of your marriage together like lego.
Principle #4: Commit To Develop The Right Skills
We must have a basic commitment to each other as people, but we alson need to commit to develop the necessary skills to make our marriage great.
When we talk about developing the skills needed to create a successful marriage, we are talking about two things:
1) Commitment to learning new skills
2) Commitment to practicing the skills we already have
Learning new skills is an ongoing process. We never stop growing.
As long as we continue to grow, we’ll keep improving ourselves. And when we improve ourselves, we become more attractive to others.
The same goes for the skills we already have.
It’s easy to think that because we have been married for many years, we no longer need to practice these skills.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can’t expect to master a skill overnight. You have to continually practice it. You can’t expect to be perfect at something until you’ve practiced it enough times. The only way to master a skill is through consistent practice.
Practicing means putting yourself out there. It means making mistakes. And it means having the courage to admit when you made a mistake.
But if you don’t practice, you’ll never improve.
So commit to developing the skills you need to create a successful marriage.
Principle #5: Have A Proper View of Conflict And Problems
Many couples want to throw in the towel and quit when conflict arises.
Conflicts are opportunities for deeper understanding, stronger friendship, closer intimacy, and a deeper commitment to one another.
If we view conflicts as problems instead of opportunities, they will end up destroying us.
Instead of seeing conflict as a problem, we should see it as an opportunity to strengthen our relationships.
A good marriage requires both parties to be open to the possibility of change. Both partners must be willing to work on themselves and their relationship.
In order to do this, we need to understand why we fight.
- Why do we get upset or angry? Why do we react in certain ways?
- What causes us to feel hurt and rejected by our spouses?
- Why do we get jealous?
- How does our partner treat us differently than he treats his friends?
- Why do we sometimes act selfishly?
Understanding the root cause of our fights helps us avoid getting into them in the first place.
Once we know what’s causing our fights, we can take steps to prevent them from happening again.
Understanding the root cause also helps us resolve our conflicts.
Resolving conflicts takes time and effort. But resolving conflicts is worth every minute spent trying. Because once we resolve our conflicts, we have a better chance of creating a happy marriage.
9 Simple Steps To Build A Healthy Relationship
These 9 simple steps will help you build a lasting, loving relationship with your spouse.
Marriages are built on trust, respect, communication, and compromise. If these elements aren’t present, then the relationship won’t last. Unfortunately, many couples don’t realize they need to address these issues before marriage.
Remember my illustration of the lego set? Each piece has to be snapped (connected) together to build something. It’s the connection that makes it strong.
Same with marriage. These nine things need to be connected in our relationship or it will not be strong enough to stand.
Here are nine steps for building a lasting relationship:
1. Make Time For Each Other
You may say “we’re too busy” or “there’s no time.” But if you want to build a marriage that truly works, there’s no excuse for not making time for each other.
Make time to connect with your spouse. Talk about what’s going on in their life. Ask questions. Listen. Be interested. Share your feelings. Show interest in his/her dreams and aspirations.
Make sure you have at least one date night per month. This could be dinner out, movie night, or even just spending time in bed reading a book together.
2. Take Time Out From Each Other
While this may sound like a contradiction, it is not. It’s important to have down time; I call it personal time.
My wife and I both love the mornings. We like to rise early.
We like our quiet time. We usually hug and kiss each other good morning, then we head off to our respected ‘quiet place’ to enjoy our morning.
For both of us, it’s a time to reflect and spend time with God.
It’s only after an hour or two that we ‘meet up’ in the kitchen and share a cup of coffee and connect.
Our time alone is as important as our time together. In fact, our time together is better because of our time alone.
We recommend each couple have apart.
My wife often jokes: ‘How can I miss you if I’m always with you?’
It’s true. Time apart makes time together sweet.
I’ve often told couples: If you don’t know how to be by yourself, you are not ready to be with someone else.
Personal time is where (and when) you grow the most. You connect with God, yourself, and your dreams. It’s vital for a healthy marriage.
3. Be Honest About Your Feelings
We should never allow our feelings to govern your life, however, it is important to be open and honest about how you feel.
Don’t be afraid of expressing how you feel about things — even if you feel disappointed or upset, don’t hold those feelings back from your spouse. If a problem comes up between the two of you, don’t dismiss it; take it seriously and discuss it as soon as possible.
A marriage needs honesty, and if one party isn’t willing to speak his mind about something wrong with the relationship, there’s a problem somewhere else in the relationship — whether that’s in communication or some other
If you are not feeling love, then you need to talk about it. Don’t pretend that everything’s fine just because you don’t want to hurt his/her feelings. You may think that he/she doesn’t notice but they do. They feel it.
Discuiss things that are on your mind. Talk about your problems. If something bothers you, talk about it. Tell him/her exactly what you’re thinking and feeling. He/She might not agree with you, but at least you’ve got someone who cares.
And if you don’t tell them how you really feel, they’ll never know what you’re going through.
By openly communicating with your spouse, you are connecting the lego’s of your relationship together in a strong bond.
4. Be Clear About Your Needs And Expectations
Be clear about what you ask for, and be clear about what you expect.
Being too guarded about your feelings will keep people at a distance; sharing them openly will establish trust and a deeper connection. If this isn’t your style, start by telling your spouse how you feel when he or she does something to make you feel good — whether it’s giving you a hug, complimenting you on something or just saying hello.
Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. It can actually help in building intimacy with your mate.
It’s not easy to admit you’re insecure and it takes a lot of courage to say, “I’m scared.” But if you don’t admit that you feel this way, the other person won’t know how to respond or what to do to help you overcome your fears.
So, be brave enough to share your thoughts and feelings. Letting go of control over your emotions is an essential part of letting others into your heart.
Dreams are the language of our subconscious mind. They are a window into your soul and they can help you understand yourself better, as well as others.
We all have dreams. When we share our deep desires and dreams with our spouse we allow them into our life on a deeper level. This helps us bond and connect.
If you have big plans for the future, let him/her know. Even if you’re only dreaming about a simple trip somewhere, it’s better than keeping it inside.
Sharing your dreams will not only help you stay motivated and keep you focused on achieving those goals, it brings your spouse into your world. This is how they truly become your partner.
Sharing dreams with your spouse is a way of bonding. It helps you build a bridge between two different worlds.
6. Make Intimacy A Priority.
Physical intimacy is great for your relationship. It helps you bond and connect emotionally. Plus, it makes you feel good physically.
Physical intimacy is a key part of maintaining a healthy marriage, and one way to make it a priority is to work on small ways to make your relationship more intimate.
Work on the “romantic” stuff:
You don’t have to be a sappy romantic to appreciate the little things that spark romance in your marriage. Some key activities might include:
General happy-hour activities – Take some time out of your busy schedule for a drink or dinner with your partner — even if you don’t usually enjoy these kinds of activities, taking time for just the two of you can make such moments special.
Small surprises – When you have a surprise planned for your spouse, give him or her advance warning so he or she has time to prepare for it and to consider how he or she will feel about it afterward.
Gifts – Surprise gifts are great ways of showing appreciation without costing much money. Think what you might be able to buy with $10 or $20. It could be something as personal as an extra hug when it really needs one, or as practical as a new tool for his or her job.
7. Accept Each Other Unconditionally
If you want to truly love someone, you have to accept them unconditionally. This is a strong statement, but it’s true. To love someone means that you have the ability to accept them in their entirety — good and bad — unconditionally. It means that even if they’re rude or selfish, you can still love them.
This is especially true of your spouse. Accept each other as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses. When you make this commitment, it doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree; it just means that when you do, you work things out amicably instead of being petty or vindictive. And when one person doesn’t do something right, the other will forgive them and move on without holding grudges or dwelling on what went wrong.
It’s crucial for long-term relationships because the key to a lasting marriage is not loving each other more than anyone else; it’s accepting each other as they are — flaws and all — and learning to live with those flaws over the long haul.”
If you don’t accept who your partner is, then you won’t be able to build a strong foundation for your relationship. You need to understand that everyone has their own unique personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. These things make them who they are, and if you don’t accept these differences, then you will never be able to build a solid foundation for your relationship.
8. Don’t Take Things Too Personal
We often make mistakes and do things that hurt our spouse. Sometimes they do things that wound us. It’s important to keep these things in perspective and not take things too personal.
It’s easy to take things personally when you’re hurt or offended. But it’s more important to keep things in perspective. We’re all human and make mistakes, and we don’t always handle them the way others want us to.
One of the greatest mistakes people make when they’re in a relationship is taking things personally. We tend to assume that what one person does reflects on us, and we react accordingly.
When you take something personally, you get upset over something that doesn’t really matter. This leads to arguments and misunderstandings. When you try to fix problems that aren’t really problems, you end up making everything worse. Instead of taking things personally, learn to let go and focus on the positive aspects of your relationship.
Sometimes the best way to find out what might be personal is to talk about it openly with your significant other so you don’t misinterpret their actions as something about yourself. It’s OK for your spouse to share how they feel about something without it being meant as a criticism of you
9. Resect Each Other
Respect is one of the most important factors that determine if a relationship is strong. When you’re working together, communicate effectively and have clear and open communication, you can build a strong bond with your partner.
When you respect each other’s opinions, you’ll be able to work out any problems or disagreements in a constructive way. You’ll also find it easier to solve issues when they arise because you know how to talk about them without getting angry or defensive.
You should respect each other’s decisions and choices. If you don’t agree with someone’s decision, ask them why they made that choice. Have a discussion. This will keep you from jumping to conclusions and making judgments about them.
Honesty is an essential part of building trust. Honesty builds credibility and helps you establish a good reputation.
A lack of respect can be the source of many problems in a marriage, and it’s not uncommon for couples to end up splitting up over the matter.
Final Thoughts on How To Build A Marriage That Really Works
Although many couples struggle to create a strong relationship and build a marriage that really works, it is possible when you understand the prinicples that guide and govern how relationships work. In this article we covered five basic relationship principles every couple should embrace, and nine practical things you can do to build a great marriage.
Much like using lego’s to build a play house, these priniciples and steps will help create a healthy connection in your marriage.
- 5 Principles For Married Couples
- 9 Simple Steps To Build A Healthy Relationship
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
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The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Courses
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.