“Four Elements of a Committed, Happy, Loving, Marriage!”

elements of marriage

By the time I was 16 years old, I was a senior in high school and I’d received seven marriage proposals.  I couldn’t figure out why a bunch of guys wanted to get married – marriage wasn’t attractive to me at all!  All of the marriages I knew about were, damaged or doomed, including my parents and married siblings.  When I whined and complained about my predicament, after explaining that some girls might find this situation flattering, my mother’s only suggestion was that I take a night class on marriage at the local community college.  Not having a solution of my own, I took her up on it, not knowing it would give me a life-long thirst for studying relationships and a curiosity about what does or doesn’t make them work.

I’ve been committed and married to the same man, Hal (the wonderful), for 38 years and have coached hundreds of couples over the past 20 years and learned a lot from them, from my own experiences and education.

When couples ask me “what is the most important thing in a marriage?” I like to smile, and say, “The two individuals and how they define Commitment most often determines whether or not they will have a happy, loving, lasting marriage.”  So, let me share what I have found to be “Four Elements of a Committed, Happy, Loving, Marriage!”

It is all about Commitment.  When you step over the threshold together, into your new life as a married couple, make sure you shut the door tightly behind you and remove the doorknob!  If either of you believe there is a back-door, or a way out available to you, you haven’t jumped in with both feet! That’s not commitment and it takes COMMITMENT to make a marriage work!

Elements of Commitment:

  1. Shared Perspective:  A long-term perspective that allows partners to weather the inevitable ups and downs in marital satisfaction: Every human being changes over time and in response to new environments. How we will change, is unknown. As partners, each of us can recognize this truth and anticipate that change; choose to embrace it; and find joy in the new again.
  2.  Shared Core Values:  When spouses commit to governing their relationship from Shared Core Values, with mutually agreed upon definitions, there is solidarity, unity and foundation for all decisions to be made as a couple.
  1. Shared Future: When a couple dreams together; then puts in place plans, goals, and details of what their future will be like together; that is what signifies commitment to a Shared Future as a couple.
  1. Shared Choice to give up SOME Choices:   For example:
    1. Making the choice, as partners, to choose happiness over “being right.”
    2. Making the choice to give up control of all of my time.
    3. Making the choice to give up control of all of my finances.
    4. Making the choice to give up control of…some of my choices.

I love this quote by Scott Stanley, PhD, from the University of Denver:

“It is the formation of commitment—a clear series of decisions about choices and the future—that brings security to a relationship … commitment brings evidence that one can actually trust that that security exists.”