The 7 Principles of Marriage – building a happy and fulfilling partnership

The 7 Principles of Marriage - building a happy and fulfilling partnership

The 7 Principles of Marriage – building a happy and fulfilling partnership

What does it really take to be happily married or in long term relationships? Most blogs, well wishers and maybe some qualified therapists would tell you about either of the three three C’s of marriage- Communication, Compromise, and conflict. But haven’t we all tried that. What then, just take it as it comes?

In my opinion, definitely not. The stakes are  too high –  Marriage is the primary relationship of up to 80% of our lives and can have long-term impact on the overall level of satisfaction of a person’s life?

In today’s blog, I will take you through 7 research backed principles that have been found to make marriage work across ages, cultures, sexualities and childbirth. These principles have been formulated by Drs. John & Jullie Gottman, after almost 30 years of research. I have adapted them to be the filmy version of course

  1. Dosti Pyaar Hai:  Pyaar Dosti Hai – We all grew up with this adage with Shah Rukh Khan as its poster child. What they really should have said was Dosti Pyaar Hai. Yes ‘Dosti pyaar hai’ and not the other way round. Think about your best friend or your siblings. How well do you know them? Quite well right? Now get to know your partner even better. Learn more deeply about their likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, fears, etc and develop a strong marital friendship. Having such a bond will help you build emotional intimacy that prevents you from being hostile even when you disagree. Research  showed that the 33% of couples that did not drift apart after childbirth, had a deep marital friendship prior to it.
  2. Focus on the positives – Intentionally focus on your partner’s positive qualities and nurture admiration for your partner. Some ways to nurture admiration are:
    • Think of three things you admire about your partner and share at least one of them with your partner.
    • Discuss your history. Talk about how you first met, what your first conversation was about or even your first date.
    • Appreciate your partner when they do something for you. Remember the ‘good’ moments

    Research shows that 94% of couples who remember the small, yet significant moments of their history, fondly are either satisfied with their marriage or they can at least repair it

  3. Turn Towards each other, Not Away: Give your full, undivided attention to your partner. It builds emotional intimacy and a sense of teamwork. This is not about big gifts or vacations, but more about showing up in the micro moments -Listening when they talk, understanding when they are exhausted and you need to pitch in more for housework, not multitasking when you spend time with them.
  4. Let your partner influence you: Allow your partner to have a say in your decisions. No, I am not asking you to do exactly as they say but simply take their viewpoint into consideration. Take decisions together. This reduces the power struggle between you and your partner and foster’s your marital friendship. Also, your partner is supposed to be your friend, and hopefully, your best friend. You would take your best friend’s viewpoint into consideration when you are making an important decision, right?
  5. Solve your Solvable Problems: Not all your problems are solvable. Yes, you read that right. Some conflicts are simply differences in values and life choices. For instance, you are an early riser while your partner is a night owl. This is not something that you can solve, it’s just something you have to accept and work with. Dr. John Gottman calls these problems the perpetual ones. Solvable problems are situational – they don’t keep coming back again and again. Solve your solvable problems.
  6. Overcome Gridlock: Perpetual problems often get you gridlocked. Being in gridlock means that you can’t find your way around a problem that keeps coming up again and again. The key to navigating gridlock is to understand the importance of the value or the dream behind what your partner wants. This will create space for you to come to a compromise. Suppose your partner wants to take a solo trip and that makes you feel like you’re not important to them. However this may simply be more about them waiting to explore their individuality and have nothing to do with you. Understanding that dream will help you create more space for them and come out of gridlock.
  7. Create Shared Meaning: Creating shared meaning means creating a microculture of your own, a way of living that you and your partner created. Shared meaning comprises of any of the following things
  • Shared goals
  • Rituals of connection (E.g., working out together, going for walks together)
  • Shared values and systems
  • Supporting each others roles

Almost 30  years of research support these principles as the secret sauce to making marriage work. I will be doing a deepdive on each principle in the coming weeks. Stay Tuned!

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