10 Steps to a Successful Marriage

What’s the secret to a successful marriage? While the answer may vary between couples, there are some tried-and-true steps that can help you set your marriage up for success from the very beginning, even if you’re just dating or in an already established relationship and want to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Here are 10 steps to a successful marriage every couple should take together to start their marriage off on the right foot and keep it going strong over time.

1) Know Yourself
Before you can commit yourself to another person, you have to understand yourself. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult or impossible for any relationship to work out long-term. Spend some time getting comfortable with who you are, what your values are and what kind of relationship makes sense for you. Know Yourself.

2) Don’t Date Your Spouse
This seems like common sense, but it’s easy to fall into that trap. If you’re not married yet, avoid dating your future spouse. You can still date others while you search for Mr. or Mrs. Right—but don’t start seeing your current soul mate too soon! Why? Well, if things go south between you and one of your significant others (and they will), it can put a big strain on your relationship with your partner-to-be.

3) Communication is Key
Communication is key in any relationship, especially when it comes to resolving conflicts or simply communicating your thoughts and feelings. Spend time talking with each other on a regular basis and avoid heated conversations as much as possible. If you’re having trouble being heard or need help working through your thoughts, consider seeing a marriage counselor for some advice.

4) Embrace Differences
No relationship can work if you can’t accept your partner for who they are. Make sure you understand and embrace their differences, which will make it easier for you to communicate with each other as well as respect their boundaries. Knowing how to communicate better is one of life’s most important skills. Mastering that skill will not only help your marriage but also every other aspect of your life.

5) Small Habits Lead to Big Changes
Habits are routine behaviors you perform without even thinking. They can make up as much as 45 percent of your actions, according to research from Duke University—which means more than half of what you do each day is habitual. But bad habits can be just as powerful. In fact, 80 percent of those surveyed by Duke researchers said their bad habits were more difficult to break than their good ones.

6) Love Yourself First
You can’t really love another person until you learn to love yourself first. This is one of those cliche sayings that bears a lot of truth. If you don’t take care of yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone else. That said, if you do your best and still feel like something’s missing from your life, don’t automatically assume it has something to do with marriage or relationships.

7) Love as if You have Never Been Hurt Before
In order to have a successful marriage, one must first understand love. Most people go through life with no idea what it means or how to recognize it. The human heart is fragile and can be easily hurt, but without risk there cannot be reward. When dating, always show your affection for that special someone because you never know if you will ever see them again. These steps will help you be prepared for marriage, in case anything does happen or if something does happen.

8) Give Respectfully
The best way for you to show your partner that you care is by giving him or her what they want. Giving out of respect means spending time with your significant other, doing something they enjoy and actively listening when they’re trying to tell you how they feel. Furthermore, it’s important that even when you don’t agree with someone, you respect their feelings.

9) Speak Kindly
Speak your partner’s love language. If you don’t know what it is, consider asking him or her. Here are some questions that can help: What makes you feel loved? What gets on your nerves? How do you want to be treated? Although we all want our partners to give us affection and act lovingly toward us, that isn’t always how we feel loved or appreciated.

10) Have Fun!
You may get bored, you may feel like you’re in it for the wrong reasons, but if you want your marriage to succeed, remember that marriage is supposed to be fun. Enjoy each other’s company and make time for love in your relationship; as long as you still are having fun together after all these years of commitment, there isn’t anything that can hold back your marriage. And it all starts with being able to laugh together!

If you feel that your marriage or relationship could use a little nudge in the right direction, click here for information that could change your life.