Five Key Factors to a Happy & Successful Marriage

You need more than a little 'Love' to make a marriage work
You need more than a little ‘Love’ to make a marriage work

**This is the longest blog post I have ever written. It has been written for awhile now and I have been debating whether or not to post it. But, I guess if you are reading it, I hit the publish button!**

Marriage: An Overview

Statistics scream that marriage is hard. It’s true! So many end in divorce these days. Some marriages end because of financial problems, some end because the grass on the other side was far too tempting, and in Taiwan, a lot end because of the in-laws.

And I don’t need to consult the statistics to know that most marriages end in divorce. Three of my friends got married the same year as I did and are now divorced. The first one ended in record time [in less than six months] when they relocated to his hometown and they just couldn’t see eye to eye. Another one ended when the guy came out of the closet [true story], while the latter ended two kids later, when he cheated and chose ‘her’ over my friend. So, out of the four weddings that year, my marriage was the only one that surpassed year five and has now reached double digits, ‘the big 10.’

I would like to say that married life has been all roses [and you know how much I love flowers], but marriage can be challenging at times and it can be even more challenging if the couple doesn’t work together. Luckily for us, our challenges have been few and far between. And when there has been, we faced these challenges together and some of the obstacles have even made our relationship stronger [especially one in particular that made us realize that life is precious and we should treasure all the good in our life each and every day.]

We are by no means relationship ‘experts,’ but I would like to think that we know a thing or two about making a marriage work. We realize that love and lust are important to a foundation of a marriage, but they can only go so far [so these points will not be discussed]. Here are some keys factors to a healthy and happy marriage [according to us.] Some are by no means secrets, but they work for us. And we hope that from reading through these factors, they will strengthen your marriage, relationship, or if you are single, you are more aware of what it takes to have a long-term successful relationship and marriage.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

[1] Open Verbal Communication & The Power to Listen Carefully

If something about your spouse is bothering you, then deal with it!! Because let’s face it! Most of us are not mind readers, so it is important to verbally communicate to your partner what you are thinking or how you are feeling. Your feelings will not transfer automatically by osmosis nor will they disappear if you don’t talk about them. You need to discuss them and get them out in the open because problems or issues will not go away – they will fester and become way bigger and become combustible the more time they are left unresolved. Also, the key is to not jump down each other’s throats, but rather listen carefully and try to meet somewhere in the middle, in neutral water or on comprising grounds. Also, make sure you listen to your partner and understand where they are coming from.

I may be a private person about certain aspects of my life, but I am also the type of person who has no job expressing her feelings or saying what it on her mind. My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t really good at telling me what was bothering him and I felt that sometimes I had to pry it out of him. However, after being together for over fourteen [!!] years, we are very open and honest which makes it easier for us to help each other.

[2] Keep Finances in Order

It is important to be on the same page in terms of money and if not, discuss it. I have heard from people all too often that the wife is a spender, but the husband isn’t, or vice versa. Having differing views regarding money is a ticking time bomb. Poor spending habits can lead to a lack of money which will lead to conflict and thus, strain on the marriage. However, even if you have differing views, it is not the end of the world, and compromise is the key. Working together can alleviate the burden.

My husband and I see eye to eye in terms of our finances. Neither one of us are big spenders and when we are going to make a big purchase, we usually discuss our options and arrive at a decision together. We do like to treat each other to expensive things from time to time, but it is not an every day thing. We are careful with our money because we are not from wealthy families and I personally know what it is like to be poor. Money to us equals security.

[3] Respect Each Other **and Each other Cultures** [if you are an interracial couple]

Respect is a key component of any relationship. If there is no respect, then it is hard to tick off the other boxes for a happy and successful marriage. And what I mean by that is you have to respect each other’s thoughts and opinions. You don’t need to agree with them, but you need to realize that everyone is entitle to their own thought process, even if it is different from yours. Plus, if you say if you are going to do something, then do it. It is a way to build not only respect, but also trust. And this one is even more sufficient if you are in an interracial relationship where there are different customs and values.

My husband and I are an interracial couple. With regards to our different cultures, my husband and I view it as a asset. We get to celebrate holidays from two cultures and we get to learn about each other’s traditions. My in-laws are very open-minded and are such an awesome bunch of people [they really truly are], so they have never ‘pushed’ their way of thinking on me.

[4] Make Time For Each Other, Do ‘The Little Things’ & Be ‘There’ For Each Other!

Another aspect of maintaining a successful and happy marriage is to keep the magic alive. Allocate time to do something fun together. If your spouse is going through a hard time, be there for him or her. And do a little thing or two regularly to show the love of your life that you appreciate him or her.

My husband and I always make time for each other each and every day. For example, we enjoy a morning coffee together and always have dinner together. We go on regular ‘dates’ to our favorite restaurants. But, I think the thing that truly wins my heart are the little things – giving me the first bloom from our backyard, having dinner on the table when I get home, or buying a little gift for no reason.

[5] Spend Time Apart Pursuing Individual Interests

It is important to spend time pursuing things that interest you. Maybe it is a hobby that you enjoy or maybe it is a class you want to take. No matter what, it is important to keep doing the things that you enjoy, even after marriage.

For example, my husband is an avid cyclist. On weekdays, he cycles every other day after work and on weekends, he takes to the roads for a long four to five hour ride. He also participates in several cycling events covering a distance of 100 KM. It is not only a great stress reliever, but a form of exercise that he thoroughly enjoys. Plus, he doesn’t do it alone. For the weekend rides and events, it is much more than exercise as he cycles with a group of his buddies. He gets to chat with them and they eat together. And along the way, he usually lines [are you familiar with the app called Line?] me some pictures of the views [as he knows I would appreciate the pictures of the scenery taken along his route.]

And while he is off doing his own thing, I usually have a meal or coffee with some of my friends, followed by some window shopping. But, if I am not doing that, I will take advantage of the alone time and the silence, and use the time to write.

Then, at the end of the day, it is nice to hear about how each of our day’s went and to share the events of the day with each other.

Now, over to you! Did we leave any of the important points out? What do you think is the key to maintaining a successful relationship or marriage? Be sure to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment box below!

The Legs of a Cyclist - My Husband at a Temple in Taiwan
The Legs of a Cyclist – My Husband at a Temple in Taiwan
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37 thoughts on “Five Key Factors to a Happy & Successful Marriage

  1. A really good list. I was thinking about this already today after I read Jocelyn’s recent post on Speaking of China. I think along with respect also comes compromise, especially in a cross-cultural relationship (but it’s important in relationships with all people, really). I think communication is huge too.

    In relation to fiances, I think how a couple raises their kids (if they decide to have them) is a huge hurtle, one that couples may not realize they differ on (much like finances) until they are actually put in that situation together. This has been a challenge for my husband and I throughout the years. It’s something we need to continue to work on.

    I think many couples overlook the value of having time apart and their own friends and interests. Good point to bring up!

    1. You bring up another great point. I think a whole different dimension is added to a relationship when a child enters the picture. No only do you have to think about how your actions affects your spouse, but about what you are teaching or demonstrating to the child [because sometimes actions speak louder than words.]

  2. I love that you guys have coffee together in the morning. I wish I could do that, but truly, I’m a morning grouch! I don’t want to talk to anyone until I’ve gotten in a morning walk, coffee, and breakfast. So we settle for sitting on the front porch on our glider, or watching our animals play in the backyard.

    Like you, I have to DRAG my guy’s concerns out of him. Then I have to wait FOREVER after we talk about them for him to process his feelings. Like, days, even. It’s hard to be patient while he figures out all his emotions and tells me what he wants/needs.

    So my advice would be: Guys! Speak up and process faster already! 😉

    1. My husband wakes up before me every morning. However, I am usually the cappuccino maker, so he has to wait until I get up.

      Plus, he has gotten better with expressing his feelings over the years. So, by year 10 of your marriage, Andy’s feelings and emotions will be an open book. So, there is hope! haha

  3. It sounds like you and your husband have a great relationship, weathering the good and not so good times together. Talking about things with each other is always key – being honest and upfront with each other tends to leads to ideas to sort things out to make two people happy once again with each other 🙂

    Doing your own activities is certainly great too. I wonder has your husband tried dragging you along to cycle with him? Maybe it’s not your thing…like how writing isn’t really his thing 😀 Looks like he’s thinking of you wherever he goes ❤

    1. Yes, being honest and upfront is good for any relationship and makes life much easier.

      We did go cycling together once. He rode on his new road bike [which is lightweight and has a great gear system] and I rode on a 15 or 16 year old bike. He ended up doing circles around me and I was huffing and puffing and exerting so much energy just to move the bike and keep up. I thought about trading bikes with him but his bike is way too high for me. Maybe in the future I will buy a better bike, but for now, I think it is something he can enjoy with his buddies. I am more of a cardio-kickboxing kind of person.

  4. Thank you for sharing… and I’m glad you did!
    I think that a lot of these things hold true for anyone, married or not, in ensuring a good friendship or relationship. But the combination seems en point for a good marriage. You and your husband work at this together, and that’s beautiful.
    I’ll return to this when I happily tie the knot…

  5. Reblogged this on Uniquely Toronto and commented:
    I think that this provides sound advice for any relationship, not just marriage.

    I especially like the idea that each party in a relationship should be able to spend time apart doing their own thing(s).

    The relationship then grows when both parties later share their individual experiences with each other.

    Cool post, glad for the opportunity to reblog it.

    Vincent Banial

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post and I am so honored that you thought it was good enough to re-blog and share with your readers.

      And you are right! These tips would work great for any type of relationship!!

      Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

  6. I’m not married (and I’m not going to be for a long time), but I think you’ve covered pretty much what’s needed for a successful relationship. I’m rubbish at expressing my feelings, instead I just go hide in a corner waiting for the other to telepathically (read magically) read my thoughts. That’s something I’m still working on. I’m part of an interracial couple as well and yes it means double holidays!!!

    1. Yes! Celebrating double holidays is totally awesome!

      And I agree with you when you say that the points extend beyond married couples and can apply to relationships as well. I am sure you will get better with expressing your feelings with time. My husband has.

  7. Food for thought, indeed!

    I’ve been dipping in and out of different blogs for a number of weeks but I’ve commented till now.

    I used to let my emotions simmered till it became stewed tea. It wasn’t a healthy dose of sunshine for my well being. Over the years, the School of Hard Knocks , kindness, blessings, generosity and support from others (the greatest gifts were from strangers and people who hardly knew me) have taught me a thing or two.

    I think the turning point for me was when I became very ill on 2 occasions and seeing the way my hospital consultants have had bended over backwards for me, it has given me a different perspective of life. My present hospital consultant has certainly gone beyond the call of duty. He has given me a deadline…..there’s a moment of sadness but also joy because it’s very likely that I no longer require another operation (my 3rd). I feel very privileged and blessed. It has opened my eyes in how I deal with emotions, situations and with people.

    I’ve now embraced the concept of be kind to others. and myself. One does not know what goes on in someone’s life. It’s very easy to judge. Yes, I’m single. Blogs like yours, Speaking of China etc have been insightful.

    My recent experience of living in a very conservative part of the Middle East has shaped my life. The positive experience has opened my heart and mind to many things. Life’s a journey!

    1. First off, thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing your experiences.

      The story you shared in your comment just goes to show how the kindness of strangers can make us realize what it important and can also help us through tough times. This particular story had me thinking about all the times strangers have reached out to me to lend a helping hand in Taiwan – from giving me directions to simply asking if I was ok. They didn’t need to, but they did.

      And you are right. Life is indeed a journey and all we have to do is embrace it. 🙂

      Have a great weekend!

  8. I don’t really have any real idea what makes my married life successful so far. We try to respect each other,give each other enough space to breath and enjoy planning new things together. Whether it will successful or not it is hard to say but I surely hope so. Right now we are just a bit over three years married 🙂

    1. I am sure you guys are great together. And from what I have read, year one is suppose to be the hardest and you have surpassed that with flying colors. Plus, your in-laws are nice to you, so you have passed that hurdle as well! 🙂

  9. Lovely post! I think I would add be ready to give. There are many instances in life together that call for compromise and negotiation. Unless each person keeps some flexibility, things can get contentious very quickly. This becomes even more important if children enter the picture. While certainly each parent has a different viewpoint and experiences, they need to have a coherent approach to parenting so that the child(ren) doesn’t get confused.

    1. Luckily, my MIL is amazing – you couldn’t meet a nicer or sweeter person.

      However, I have a few mother-in-law nightmare stories from others to share. So, be on the lookout for a article I plan to post in the coming month or two about MILs in Taiwan. For example, one of my friends lived with her MIL until her and her husband bought a house and moved out. My friend referred to her new home as ‘Freedom House.’

  10. I thought you will be giving the ultimate tips on how to survive the in-laws trouble! 😀

    I don’t know about the westerners, but I think one of the main reasons current generation of Asians have a higher divorce rate is because of a shift in mindset. When I look at the older generations, divorce is kind of like a taboo word, it is the ultimate shame that can happen to oneself, or something like that. People don’t just divorce, they try to make things work and tough it out.

    Whereas today, I see more and more people who thinks that getting a divorce is normal since many people have already done it. If things don’t work out in a marriage, it just means “we are not compatible” and it is best to part ways rather than suffer.

    1. I think it is the same thing with Westerners as well. However, you can’t expect to be together for years and not have a disagreement from time to time. If that is not the case, then one bending over backwards to please the other.

      I can’t speak for all of Asia, but I feel that some Taiwanese couples get married rather quickly without really knowing each other that well which may lead to divorce. For example, most marry after a year of dating, but probably only went out together once or twice a week for a couple of hours. It is not until they get marry and live together that they notice the other’s flaws.

  11. A great list, that I can only wholeheartedly agree to.
    We are an interracial couple and the first year of our marriage we were constantly fighting about a myriad of little things, but in the end it made all the difference because we talked about everything and still do ^^

  12. Great list, Constance. I think number 1 is specially important. My past failed relationships taught me that things have to be discussed and clarified immediately or they will explode in your face even years later. I regularly ask my boyfriend, “Is there anything about us you are not happy about?” and force him to say something hahaha. We haven’t had much problems until now though, and we have been living together for more than 2 years. We have never fought, I am not a fighting person and honestly we have never had anything to fight about until now. We are very understanding with each other haha. However, as R Zhao said, I know probably having kids (in the future) will be a big challenge, particularly with me not being specially “motherly” and his parents doing weird kid-related Chinese things that I don’t agree with/am not used to…

    1. We are kind of like you guys. My husband is a very happy go lucky guy and I am one to voice her opinion, but once it is out there, you can take it or leave it. My husband’s sister even asked him once ‘Do you guys ever fight?’

      Like I said to another commenter, some factors change when children enter the picture because the couple has to be in the same page with regards to parenting styles and values. I think though some of this is cultural and some is personal. Two of my husband’s brothers each has a child and they have two different approaches to parenting – one more effective than the other.

  13. So lovely of you to be open enough to share this with us. Must really make you reflect when your friends had such different outcomes. I have seen quite a few inter racial couples among my friends and all the ones that seem to be working the best are the ones that take that approach of seeing it as an asset rather than an inconvenience and where both partners and families are accepting and open minded. Wishing you many more years of happily married life.

    1. Yes, you are right! I think my husband have a good balance of east and west because we do respect each other’s cultures. And I think having the support of family definitely makes like easier as there is no friction or conflict.

      Thanks for dropping by and reading!

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