By Diana Taylor and Ione Gaberz
1. Give each other pleasure
Happily married couples are committed to the goal of giving each other pleasure instead of pain and suffering. In order to accomplish this goal, be always conscious of your actions and ask yourself if what you are thinking about saying or doing will cause pain or pleasure to your spouse. Make a list of all the things your spouse does to cause you pleasure and one with all the things that cause you pain and swap lists so now you know for sure what to do and what not!
2. Create mutually satisfying love and friendship rituals
Rituals are habits that build and strengthen relationships. How are your rituals? Here we have some ritual suggestions: send an email saying something positive, call daily (especially important for husbands to do!), in anniversaries plan something special together that both enjoy, rather than running out at the last minute to get some flowers, say two compliments to each other every night, have candle light dinners frequently, and do not forget to go out to date once a week.
3. Create a sense of safety to discuss problems honestly and openly
Abusive relationships are ones in which you are afraid to express feelings and opinions. Happily married couples create a sense of safety that allows each person to feel comfortable expressing his/her feelings. Instead of accusing or blaming, say “I feel… when this happens”. The sense of security is fundamental for the couple to discuss and negotiate their dissatisfactions in the relationship.
4. Use good communication skills to resolve issues
Good communication is when both feel they have been fully heard before they try to find the solution for the problem. The person whose turn it is to talk holds an object that symbolizes it is her turn. The person who is listening can only speak to repeat back or paraphrase what the other one said. This kind of communication ensures that each person will be able to say everything she/he needs to say without interruptions, attacks or criticism. Only after each person has been fully heard do you proceed to the problem solving phase.
Happy couples try to find ways and opportunities to be close to each other physically and emotionally. Try to be in contact as much as possible means making each other number one priority. When you pass each other, kiss or whisper something sweet in each others ears! Take a walk together, go have a coffee, take a new class or listen to music together. Being in contact with each other and making each other be a priority in your lives helps the development of intimacy in the relationship and makes each person feel important.
6. Have a shared meaning in your lives
Human beings need meaning in their lives as much as they need water. Happily married couples enrich their relationship by sharing meaningful experiences with each other, sharing a common philosophy and purpose in life. When couples share truly meaningful experiences they bond on a deeper level.
These six habits when practiced consistently and with intention will form the backbone of a deeply fulfilling marriage (*The Jewish Journal Aug/2006, Heller, D.MFT). If you are single look for a relationship where there is good communication, shared values, a satisfactory physical relationship and good quality in your daily emotional life.
*Diana Taylor Ph.D. and Ione Gaberz M.A. are Brazilian and works as psychotherapists in Los Angeles.