Archive for the ‘New Relationships’ Category

It Is NOT Enough To Just Be In Love

February 21, 2013
Love is not enough without friendship.

Best Friends

In our thousands of interviews with couples who have lived and worked on all of the world’s seven continents, we have heard the popular refrain over and over—”I love my partner.”  “I love my fiancée.”  “I love my spouse.”  I love, I love!    We admit it – people who say they are in love, probably are!   But is love enough to sustain the best relationships?

Is love enough to have a great marriage?  That is the most important question to ask yourself.

Here’s the rub – being IN love is easy.  It expresses an emotion common to those relationships that have transcended the millennia.  Being in love is central to the best marriages – to the best relationships between two people.  But being in love is NOT enough!

Here is what we know from our thousands of interviews with those who have had a successful and long-lasting relationship with another human being – no relationship has ever passed the test of time without friendship.

One of the questions of our interview protocol is this – “Who is your best friend?”  While we ask this question in every interview, there are two answers that stand out for us as to the importance of friendship in the best relationships.

We got our first most telling response in Rio de Janeiro.  After asking this question of the so-called “Best Couple in Rio” we got answers that drove home this point to us.   When we asked the most prominent physician in the magnificent city of Rio who his best friend was, he named TEN people and NONE was his wife of 37 years!

And it gets worse – when we asked his wife who her best friend was, she gave ten names and, like him, the list of names did not include her husband, the prominent physician she had been married to for the same 37 years!

Here’s another good example of our point.  When we interviewed a couple in Sydney, Australia a few years ago, as usual, we asked the same question – “Who is your best friend?”

To our surprise, both people in this so-called loving relationship, did not consider each other their best friend.  We probed and we probed, but alas, neither would admit that their spouse was their best friend.

The simple truth of the matter is this – these two couples professed to “love” each other, but they did not “like” each other.  They were clearly not best friends. In fact, when we asked clarifying questions, it became quite clear that neither couple had friendship within their respective relationships.

Make no mistake about it – loving someone is NOT enough.  If they are not your best friend, your relationship with them will not pass the test of time.  Your relationship with them can never be judged as a great success.

You see, the standard principle in the most successful relationships around the world is this – your partner IS your best friend!  There is no equivocation when it comes to this point.  Best friends provide each other total trust, loyalty, mutual respect, admiration, encouragement, support, caring, and much more.

If the one you love is not your best friend, your relationship is in serious trouble and, in all likelihood, will not become one of the lifelong love stories we have heard around the world on all seven continents.

So, we will ask you what we have asked every couple we have interviewed across the continents – is the one you purport to love really your best friend?  If they are not, you are not really in love for a lifetime .

In the best marriages and loving relationships, being best friends trumps everything else.  There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

Love well!  More importantly, like well!

Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our Simple Things Matter blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.

**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.

By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts

 

Marriage: The Greatest Weapon Against Poverty

September 18, 2012

Marriage, Marriage Economics, Marriage Advantages, Marriage Advice, Love and Marriage Experts We have found in our 30+ years of research on successful marriage around the world that being married has huge economic advantages.  Doubters have challenged us to “prove it!”  The latest proof is in the just released special report by the Heritage Foundation entitled, Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty.

Being married has tons of advantages – love, companionship, children, shared responsibility, financial stability, and the like.  But in the end, financial stability in the modern era may, in fact, drive almost everything else.  We know this – among the principle advantages of marriage, is shared financial stability – now and in the future.

Here are the facts.  The number one economic advantage of marriage is income!  According to recent data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and by the Heritage Foundation, the 2009 poverty rate for single parents with children in the USA was “37.1 percent.”  The poverty “rate for married couples with children was “6.8 percent.”  The Heritage Report goes on to say that being “raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by nearly 82%.”  Need we say more about being married and its positive impact on our children?

The sad reality is this – in 1964, more than 9 out of 10 children born in the USA were born to married parents.  In 2010 that number had dropped to 6 in 10 – a one-third drop.  If you wanted to know the single greatest cause of childhood poverty, look no further.

The terrible truth of the matter is this – the number of children born out of wedlock has increased to just over 40% in 2010.   And make no mistake about it, most of the births of our “out of wedlock” children have come to women who have a high school degree or less – those women who have the most difficult time going it alone in the world – those who are most likely to raise their children in poverty.

Here’s the bottom line:  the huge increases in child poverty are twofold – out of wedlock childbearing and increases in single parenthood.  According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, some 71% of poor families with children are not married.  So we ask this simple question – why would we continue to have children out of wedlock?   What favors are we doing for our children?  Why do we want to have children born in poverty?  Why would we not want our children to be born out of poverty and with a reasonable chance of success?

Here is one undeniable fact – children born of married women who have some level of education beyond high school are much more likely to be born out of poverty.  When it comes to child welfare, when it comes to combating poverty, get married!!

Now, on to another important fact in the battle for marriage.  Income, income, income!

According to recent statistics, more than HALF of single mother families have an annual income of less than $25,000 per year.  The median income for single mother families is also about $25,000.  But imagine this – the median family income for married couple families is nearly $78,000 – more than THREE TIMES the income of single mother families!

Unbelievably, 41% of single-mother families live in poverty compared to only 9% for married-couple families – FOUR times as many!  Moreover, 40% of single mothers are poor and nearly two-thirds of single mothers receive Food Stamps.

In the final analysis, married couples in the USA are no longer a majority according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  In our estimation, that is a sad situation.  This drop in marriage explains more than any other phenomenon, the substantial increases in child poverty and in the significant income disparity of married versus unmarried individuals.

In the end, the choice is yours.  Do you want your children to live in poverty?   Do you want to live in poverty yourself?  Do you like the income difference between being married or not?

Here’s the deal – we do not advocate marriage for the sake of marriage, for eliminating poverty, or to address income disparity.  We DO advocate marriage for the stability it provides our children, for the income stability it provides our families, and for the many positive opportunities marriage provides, in general, for all of us.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

Can You Change Him?

August 22, 2012

Marriage Advice from Love and Marriage Experts

Over the past three decades our favorite question for women whose marriage has failed is, “WHY?”  What went wrong?  Why do you think your marriage failed?

The answer we often get from our female respondents is this, “I thought I could fix him.”  We wish she had asked us about this issue before she decided she could change him into Mr. Right.

There is one truism you can take to the bank – YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM!  Either accept him the way he is—warts and all—or move on.

Always remember, the personality of a human being is WELL established by their early to late teen years!  If you think you can change him, you are potentially setting yourself up for an unsatisfying and failed relationship . . . and often times, with dangerous consequences.

In our 30 years of interviews we have learned that there are seven telltale signs of relationships that will not work.  These are not habits such as burping after dinner, leaving messes around the house, or turning the music up too loud.  These are pervasive personality characteristics you cannot CHANGE or FIX.  These are character flaws.  Don’t be fooled and don’t be deluded into thinking you can make these attitudes and behaviors go away.  You can’t!

Here are the seven fatal personality characteristics to watch for:

1.  Controlling Behavior:  We often hear women say to us “He always wanted to be in charge.”  He wanted to “Have the last word.” “If I wanted to go to movie X, he would buy tickets for movie Y.”  He wants to control who you talk to, what you do and where you go. True loving relationships are characterized by adherence to “democracy” – a relationship where responsibility is shared.  Having someone “in charge” does not make for a healthy relationship.

2.  Condescending Attitude:  Here’s the deal – your guy is NOT your master, ladies!  You are not his slave. He is not more important than you and his attitudes and opinions do not trump yours. If he exhibits a condescending attitude towards you more than once a week, you might want to reconsider your relationship with him. If he acts like he is superior, it is time for you to move on!

3.  Narcissistic Behavior:  According to the Mayo Clinic, “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.”

Many women we have interviewed tell us that their so-called “partner” believes everything should be about him and that he has an insatiable need for admiration and self-aggrandizement.  If he thinks he is superior to you, you should demonstrate otherwise by walking away from your relationship with him.

4.  Bullying Tactics:  Let’s be honest here – nobody likes a bully. A bully wants to push you around. A bully wants to make you cower in his presence.  A bully is a termite.  He is always trying to get inside of you and weaken you.  He wants to eat away at your interior so he can control you.  So, we ask this simple question, “Does your mate bully you?”  If he does, it is time to walk away from your relationship.

5.  Manipulative Actions:  Here is a simple question for you to contemplate – does the one you love try to manipulate you?  Does he try to “pull your strings” as if you were a puppet?  Does he continuously find different ways to manipulate you – your actions, your feelings, your behaviors, and your aspirations?  Some men always want to steer you towards a conclusion they would have drawn, not one you would have drawn.  Beware of manipulation!

6.  Lack of Follow Through:  Okay, he promised you a rose garden, but never delivered!   He told you he would take you to dinner, but made excuses for why he do it.  He told you he would cut the grass, but didn’t.  The truth is, he told you he would do a lot of things.  In the end, he rarely ever follows through on his promises.  Heed the warnings – not following through is a warning sign that you should pay close and careful attention to.

7.  Cannot be Trusted:  We have found over the years that the best marriages have at their core – TRUST!  If you have caught the man you think you love in lies—even little lies—be very cautious.  Brushing it off as no big deal can have major consequences.  If he talks about how he doesn’t have to be truthful with his friends or family members in certain circumstances, be very cautious.  If he can lie to a friend or family member, he will lie to you. If you can’t trust him, move on.  If you stay, you do so at your peril.

Here is the most important lesson of all – if he is flawed, if his actions and behaviors correspond to the aforementioned, you have to understand that you can’t fix him!  If he demonstrates any of these pervasive personality characteristics, he is impossible to change.  If you want to flail away at windmills, go ahead and believe that you can change him.  But in the end, you will be terribly disappointed.

His actions do, in fact, trump his words.  Always remember the age old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.”

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

Great Marriage Advice from Madonna

August 3, 2012
Madonna, Marriage Advice

Photo by David Shankbone

According to WENN News Madonna gave one piece of advice to the couple who got engaged during her recent Amsterdam concert.  Madonna’s advice was, “ Never go to bed angry.”  She just gave the couple the best advice possible. This is the same advice we have heard from thousands of successfully married couples who have lived on all seven continents of the world.

As many of our readers know, we have been researching successful marriages for more than 30 years.  We have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples in 47 countries of the world, learning a lot about what makes good marriages work.

Towards the end of our interview protocol we ask these wonderful couples if they could offer three pieces of advice that we could share with newlyweds.  And guess what, the number one piece of advice they have given, and it is has been consistent over three decades of research, is “Never go to bed mad at each other!”

Remember, this advice comes from thousands of happily married couples around the world.  The advice these couples give isn’t designed to shock the media with something unusual or out of the ordinary.  These are the words of couples with a proven track record.  Madonna had it exactly correct!

The good news about the notion of “Never go to bed made at each other” – it is based on research from those who would know best – those who have been happily, blissfully, and successfully married for 30-60 years!  It was delightful to hear Madonna giving a newly engaged couple exactly the right advice when many so called “experts” routinely miss the boat!

Married couples do, from time to time, have disagreements.  They argue over big things and little things.  They argue over stuff that doesn’t matter and stuff that does.  But here is what we have learned from 30 years of research – happily married couples rarely ever go to bed without resolving their differences on an issue, be it big or small.  Many report to us that they have stayed up all night trying to bring closure to an issue that has divided them.  They know that gaining resolution is far more important than getting a good night’s sleep.  And remember this, issues that are not attended to more often than not fester through the night and only appear worse in the morning.

It is good to know that Madonna, who has struggled with her marriages, has now learned the most important lesson of all – never go to be mad at each other!

Simple things matter in love and marriage.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

Positive Communication Can Strengthen Your Marriage

July 14, 2012

Communication in a Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Advice, Love and Marriage Experts, Marital Communications

The “heart of the matter” is this – successfully married couples report a high level of satisfaction with the way they communicate.  They talk about everything and anything with each other—there are “No Sacred Cows.”  Great couples attribute their marital success first and foremost to the fact that they have honed their communication skills over time.

So, what are the lessons we have learned over the past 30+ years of research from those couples that communicate effectively on just about every level?  As we poured over our interview notes from thousands of couples around the world, five important actions emerged.

1. Effective marital communication always begins with proper engagement and in a proper context. Talking about serious matters cannot occur effectively when dealing with chaos, such as a blaring television, crying baby, etc.

2. There is proper etiquette to follow in effective communication. Lower your voices, speak in a calm manner, make eye contact, listen intently and seek clarification if you don’t understand.  Refrain from blaming, accusing, calling names, making nasty remarks or getting defensive.

3. Discussions about serious issues must always begin with agreement about what the issues really are.  Work to identify the issue, establish the parameters of the discussion, and agree to solve the problem together.

4. A fruitful conversation about important matters always begins with the brainstorming of ideas.  It is important to get your respective ideas out on the table.  Talk about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.  Agree on ideas worth exploring.

5. Never, we repeat, never be judgmental when debating issues with your mate.  Instantly passing judgment on an idea is usually the death of open and honest debate between two people.

The thousands of successfully married couples we have interviewed report to us that they never felt invalidated by their spouse, that they always felt their arguments were heard, and that their opinions always mattered.  Learn the simple lessons of communication that these wonderful couples practice everyday of their lives together.

Simple things matter in love and marriage.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter 

Marriage Advice TV – Positive Communication is the Elixir of Love

July 8, 2012

Marital Communications

Enjoy our latest short Marriage Advice TV episode called Positive Communication is the Elixir of Love.  We have heard advice from thousands of happily married couples around the world regarding the important things you should say to your spouse everyday. Here are the five most important things to say to your spouse everyday.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter 

Myths and Truths About Marriage

September 16, 2011

Myths and Truths About Marriage
Improving your chances for success can be as easy as understanding the difference between myths and truths about marriage. For example, it is a fact that if you get married before the age of 24 in the USA, you have a MUCH higher chance of getting divorced than those who get married at 25 and beyond. In fact, the divorce rate for those getting married after the age of 25 is only about 30% — less than half the 65% divorce rate for those getting married before the age of 24!

The facts about marriage reveal that people who get married older, who have higher education levels, who do not have children when they get married, and who marry someone of their general social class, have a much higher chance of marital success than those who do not meet these thresholds. In the end, what really matters are the ”truths” about marriage, not the mythologies about marriage.

Here are our Top Ten Myths about Marriage in America based on our nearly three decades of marriage research in 46 countries and on six of the world’s seven continents.

MYTH 1 – Married couples have sex lives that are less satisfying than those who are not married. REALITY – Not true! In fact, the research evidence supports the opposite conclusion– those who are married have far better sex lives and enjoy it more than those who are not married. There is no debate in reputable circles about this fact!

MYTH 2 – Cohabitation works as well as marriage. REALITY – Those who cohabitate are not as committed to their relationship as those who are married. In fact, those who cohabitate before marriage have a significantly higher divorce rate when married than those who have not cohabitated!

MYTH 3 – Married women have a higher risk of domestic violence in their marriage than unmarried women. REALITY – Simply not true!! In fact, women who are married have a far LESS chance of being abused than those who cohabitate without being married.

MYTH 4 – Marriage can survive infidelity. REALITY – While some marriages do in fact survive infidelity, the overwhelming majority do not. Think long and hard about what you will lose before you engage in infidelity.

MYTH 5 – The more educated a women is the less likely she is to get married. REALITY – There is no basis in fact for this mythology. In fact, college educated women are more likely to get married than their less educated counterparts.

MYTH 6 – Bringing children into a marriage strengthens the marriage. REALITY – Nora Ephron once said, “Having children is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage!” Children are wonderful, but they bring stress and challenges to a marital relationship. Be prepared for the ups and downs!
.
MYTH 7 – When you get married you lose your individual identity for the benefit of the oneness of your marriage. REALITY – Nothing could be further from the truth. In the best marriages neither spouse loses their individual identity or subjugates their individual strengths.

MYTH 8 – The one you are married to does not have to be your best friend. REALITY – Our three decades of research across cultures and continents reveals the opposite. In fact, the most successfully married couples report to us in our interviews with them that their best friend in life IS their spouse.

MYTH 9 – There are no particular advantages to being married. REALITY – In our own research and in the research of others, there are clear advantages and benefits to being married including living longer, being healthier, and accumulating more wealth. The health benefits accrue more to men and the financial benefits more to wives.

MYTH 10 – The most successfully married couples don’t argue. REALITY – Simply not true! In fact, all couples argue – those married successfully and those who are not. The difference is how they argue. The best marriages fight fair. If you decide to submerge your feelings, let the anger fester, and go to bed mad at each other – well, you are heading down a path that could ultimately lead to the destruction of your marriage. Arguing is healthy for a marriage. Just fight fair!

The truth of the matter is this – the best marriages survive and thrive – many for a lifetime. And those successful marriages know the differences between truth and mythology. They practice truth and ignore the myths.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

Is his love for me real?

July 21, 2011

Seven Tests of LoveSince time immemorial, the most important question of the day for women is this – Is his love for me real? The answer is simpler than you think. In the end, there are Seven Tests of True Love.

As our many readers know, we have been studying successful marriage and relationships for nearly three decades. And frankly, we get asked this question a lot. If you pay close attention to the following seven indicators, you will know the answer to this timeless question as well.

1. If you observe his actions rather than his words, what have you learned? Does he talk about how nice he is, yet kicks his dog? Does he tell you how much he loves you, but decides for you what you should eat, or the movie you should like on Saturday night?

Always remember this simple truism – he is what he does! Actions always speak louder than words! Ignore this notion at your peril.

2. Does he always treat you with respect or does he do so sparingly and inconsistently? People who are truly in love know this – treating the one you love with respect is a full time activity!

You cannot pick and choose the time and place to be kind, considerate, and respectful. He is either respectful full-time or he is not. It really is that simple. He is not entitled to pick and choose!

3. In your relationship, are you relegated to second-class citizenship or are you an equal partner? When someone really loves you, they treat you as an equal partner – as a person who has an equal voice in your relationship.

If he makes the significant decisions in your relationship and relegates you to following his directives, then he really does NOT love you. In the best loving relationships between a man and a woman, both share equally in the relationship.

4. When you are in love, you know this – you cannot imagine life without the one you love! So try this question on him – “Honey, do you love me more than life itself? Can you imagine life without me?” If his answer makes you wonder about the depth of his commitment to you, he doesn’t truly love you. He is not the man you should commit your life to!

5. People who truly love each other tell each so everyday of their lives together. Does he tell you he loves you? Does he do it without prodding? Does his love for you come naturally, repeatedly, and frequently?

The truth of the matter is this – when you love someone, you tell them. And don’t fall for that old line that goes like this – “I don’t need to tell her I love her because she knows.” This notion is just plain wrong! If he doesn’t tell you, then your relationship has a problem.

6. One of the underlying notions in the best relationships is this – “I trust him with my life and my sacred honor – I trust him more that life itself.” Your trust in him is unequivocal and without hesitation.

Here is the question of the day – Is the man you purport to love a man you trust without question? If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider the question, does he really love me?

7. In the end, if he really loves you, he is always there for you – through the good times and the bad. When somebody loves you, they love you through thick and thin. They love you without conditions. They love you when you are at your best and when you are at your worst.

When you are really in love, he makes you feel good. You are stronger because he is a part of your life. He makes you excited about where your relationship is going.

The measure of his love for you is always, in the end, about consistency. When you love someone, you cannot pick and choose the times you show you care, when you express love, and when you demonstrate your affection for the one you love. If his love for you is conditional, sporadic, and only comes when the times are good, you have to answer yourself this simple question – does he really and truly love me? You decide.

In the end, if he really loves you, he will meet the Seven Tests of True Love.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

Great Marriages Use Common Words and Phrases

July 3, 2011

Common Words in Great MarriageWe have been engaged in marriage research for nearly three decades around the world and have never been asked this question until our recent research trip to the Miami area – “Are there words or phrases you listen for when you interview the best marriages around the world?” This is a great question and we are delighted to share the answer with our thousands of loyal readers around the world.

The most successfully married couples (longevity plus measured happiness according to our marriage interview protocol) use specific words and phases as they talk about their relationship with each other.

Here are the words and phrases commonly used by happily married couples categorized into the seven pervasive characteristics of successful marriage from the 28 year study of marriage in 45 countries of the world:

1. Togetherness: In successful marriages, two become one in so many positive and important ways without losing their individual identities. The most important words and phases used by successfully married couples are: We, us, our, together, team, we are like one, we cannot imagine life without each other.

2. Truthfulness: In successful marriages, couples talk about anything and everything. There are no sacred cows – no secrets. In the best marriages you hear these words and phases: Confidant, complete trust, we never worry about betrayal, we know nearly everything about each other, we are the keepers of each other’s deepest and darkest secrets.

3. Respect: Successful love and marriage is about mutual love and respect. In the best marriages you hear these words and phrases: Mutual respect, admiration, kindness, politeness, we do nice things for each other with no expectation of something in return, we put each other’s needs first. Successfully married couples do all these things automatically.

4. Fitness: In successful marriages, to live until “death do us part” requires a mutual concern about good health. Here are the words and phrases they use: Health, fitness, exercise, vitamins, nutrition, salads, taking annual physical exams, take your medicine, we exercise together, we shop for food together!

5. Joint finances: In successful marriage, it is not YOUR money and MY money. It is OUR money. Here are the words and phrases they use: Our financial goals, our house, our bills, joint decision making, joint finances (no separate checking accounts), live within our means, we talk before we buy big items.

6. Tactile communication: In successful marriages, touching each other multiple times per day is the norm. Their mantra is, “I love you so much I must touch you.” They use these words and phrases: Warmth, caring, friendship, love, understanding, we love to hug, we have great sex, touching acknowledges your presence, our hands communicate loving messages, touching is our private Morse Code.

7. Surprise: Successful marriages are exciting, never boring, and full of unpredictable things. Boredom is not an option! The best marriages use words and phrases like: Variety, upending expectancies, fun, adventure, romance, passion, always finding something to do together, we never get bored with each other, we are each other’s best friends.

You see, the words and phrases you use tell a lot about your marriage. If you don’t hear these words and phrases in your marriage and relationship, it is clear you have some work to do. Get started today forming the habits that communicate love.

In love and marriage, simple words and phrases mean a lot!

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter

The “We” versus “Me” and “You” in great marriages

February 23, 2011

Great marriages require We versus You and MeOne of the key ingredients of a successful marriage is a feeling of togetherness – we are in this together and are stronger because of our relationship. While the importance of togetherness is easy to understand, for many couples it is difficult to put into practice in their relationship.

Happily married couples become one without losing the individual identities of each other. Their relationship is NOT focused on you and me, but rather it is all about WE!

Here are the three most important actions you can take to build togetherness as reported from our thousands of interviews with happily married couples:

1. Be the number one cheerleader for your spouse. Support your spouse in every way that you can. Let your partner know just how important they are to you and to the rest of the world. Perhaps the best help that you can give your spouse is to give them the confidence they need to become all that they can be in everything that they endeavor to do. Be your spouse’s strongest supporter. Become their cheerleader. Remember that when your spouse reaches the top of the mountain, you will be standing there with them.

2. Learn how to use comprise as part of daily living in your marriage. No one can have it all his or her way. We share the bed, the toothpaste, the car, the house, and the bills. While this sounds so simple, it can cause some unusual challenges as the two individuals in a marriage have to discuss and work out mutually agreeable arrangements for such minor issues as who uses the shower first and who takes out the trash, as well as major issues such as where to live, if children will be a part of the family, and what car to purchase. Discuss how the two of you will make decisions. When you share a marriage, you must learn the art of compromise—giving a little to gain a lot.

3. Carry the burdens of your marriage on four shoulders, not just two. Helpfulness should become such a matter of habit that you feel and act like a winning team. Both of you individually are good, but the two of you working together can be a dynamite team. The old saying that two heads are better than one is very true in a marriage. Ideas that the two of you generate can be better than most ideas generated alone. As you begin working together you will learn to sense when your spouse needs help, even when they do not ask for it. You will have a “sixth sense” that tells you when your spouse is in need. Sharing life’s burdens on four shoulders is certainly easier than on just two.

Successfully married couples report the importance they feel of always being able to count on their spouse for moral support when they are down in the dumps. This comes from the togetherness they have established in their everyday interactions with each other.