Each year, more than 2 million couples marry in the U.S. While most couples say they are madly in love, some really wonder if they have what it takes to make their marriage last over time.
Whether you're married now or planning to, you'll want to know about a Life Innovations survey of 21,501 married couples from every state. It identified not only the top 10 strengths of happy marriages, but also the top 10 problems in marriage.
The top 10 strengths are as follows:
Partners are satisfied with communication.
Partners handle their differences creatively.
They feel very close to each other.
Spouses are not controlling.
Partners discuss their problems well.
They are satisfied with the affection they show and receive.
There is a good balance of time alone and together.
Family and friends rarely interfere.
Partners agree on how to spend money.
Partners agree on spiritual beliefs.
Additionally, the research found that the strongest couples have strong communication skills, a clear sense of closeness as a couple, flexibility, personal compatibility and good conflict resolution skills.
Strong marriages have a balance between separateness and togetherness. These couples prioritize togetherness, ask each other for help, enjoy doing things together and spend most of their free time together.
Also, some of the common factors in the relationship roles in strong marriages include both parties:
Are equally willing to make necessary adjustments in their roles,
Reporting satisfaction with the division of housework,
Working hard to have an equal relationship, and
Making most decisions jointly.
The happiest couples said they were happy with the way they communicate, it was easy to express their feelings and found their partner to be a good listener. They especially noted that their partner doesn’t use put-downs.
Obviously, conflict management/resolution skills are crucial. In strong marriages, both partners say that their partner understands their positions. They feel free to share their feelings and ideas; they take disagreements seriously and they work cooperatively to resolve conflicts.
According to the survey, the top 10 problems in marriage are:
Problems sharing leadership.
One partner is too stubborn.
Stress created by child-rearing differences.
One partner is too negative or critical.
Feeling responsible for issues.
One partner wishes the other had more time.
Avoiding conflict with partner.
One partner wishes the other was more willing to share their feelings.
Difficulty completing tasks.
Differences never get resolved.
For example, some common stumbling blocks are when one person feels most responsible for the problem, avoiding conflict and having serious disputes over minor issues. Sadly, relationships with unresolved differences can get into trouble. As a result, stumbling blocks become walls instead of stepping stones to build up the marriage.
Finally, no matter how in love you feel, bringing two personalities and their families together and learning how to dance can be challenging. So don’t just prepare for your wedding - take time to prepare for your marriage. Learn how to build on your strengths, creatively address differences and work together for the best interests of your marriage. It will probably be the best wedding present you can give to each other.