Lessons from lasting marriages
Rather than studying failing marriages, several people (Wallerstein
& Blakeslee, 1995; Gottlieb, 1990; Hendrix, 1991; Klagsbrun, 1985;
Lauer & Lauer, 1985) have explored successful marriages to see why
they last. Both men and women give the same basic reasons:
My partner is my best friend and I like him/her as a person; I
put him/her first over all others, over my work, over TV, over
everything. It isn't just "you're # one" in spirit; I actually give
him/her my whole attention and make time every day.
I regard marriage as a deep, almost sacred commitment; we've
had some disagreements but never for a moment did I
seriously consider divorce. We worked it out. To love, you must
feel emotionally safe--totally accepted, respected, and
supported. Therefore, we don't criticize or strike out in anger,
instead we gently request a change (see method #4 in chapter
I enjoy my partner, we laugh and touch, we confide, we agree
on values, goals, and sex. We look for the good in each other
and in life; thus, we are optimistic. We have wide interests and
try new things. We try to have fun.
We have equal power; we respect our partner's wishes and
know we can't always have our way; disagreements are
negotiated (method #10 in chapter 13). Decisions are made
fairly, some together, some by me, and some by him/her. We
both make changes when needed, tolerate losses, and accept
unresolved conflicts. We are patient and forgiving.
We accept and trust each other, permitting honesty and
security; I tell him/her everything (methods #6 and #7 in
chapter 13). I love the closeness; we share our minds, hearts,
and souls. We listen to the other (see method #2 in chapter
We are equally dependent on each other in ways that enrich
our lives; and we are equally independent from each other in
ways that enrich our lives. We do so much together and agree
on most issues, but we have a clear sense of self and do things
by ourselves. Clearly, we think for ourselves.
We cherish our time together, expressing our appreciation of
each other for little acts of kindness as well as major sacrifices.
We treasure our memories and frequently remind each other of
the good times.
Note: Of course, everyone would stay together if they were getting all these benefits. No
one has it so good but some come close. These are ideal goals which require a good
psychological adjustment, great skill, and effort to achieve. In this sense, good marriages
are not "made in heaven."