A book could be written on this subject. There are four essential ingredients of a successful marriage. These ingredients require that both partners have reached some maturity as adults and are free of major mental or emotional problems.
1. Loving touch. Touching heals and connects us to each other. Research shows that both the toucher and the one being touched receive physiological benefit from touching. Touching can raise our hemoglobin levels, lower blood pressure, and increase the length of our lives! One study has shown that both men and women need eight to ten meaningful touches every day. We need to be touched for physical, emotional and psychological reasons.
Research also shows that we feel more positively toward the people we touch than toward those we do not touch. Therefore, to keep a marriage loving and fulfilling remember to touch each other affectionately every day.
2. Loving Words. We need to hear from our partner that we are loved and valued. Words can hurt or they can heal. We are usually quick to share criticisms; words that hurt. When do we share the things we value about our partner?
Silence can also hurt. For example: “She knows how I feel without my having to say it.” Does she? Many do not know it unless it is expressed verbally. Most of us need and want more love and acceptance than we receive.
Why do we withhold our thoughts and feelings of love from each other when this can help heal past hurts and can deepen a relationship? Since no one said these words to us we feel strange, awkward and vulnerable when we begin to say them. But the risk is worth it and will bring many rewards.
Comment on positive traits such as kindness, generosity or thoughtfulness in addition to commenting on things your partner accomplishes or on his or her appearance. Be specific and positive about what you like. Don’t just say, “That was a good meal” or “Thanks for cooking dinner.” ”Say, “The chicken was so tender and you cooked it just the way I like it. I know it took a lot of your time. I really appreciate it and love you for it.”
3. Envision a positive future together. Watch how you talk about your partner and your marriage. Be positive and future oriented rather than dwelling on problems from the past. You will need to avoid saying “you always...” or “you never...” In order to do this you must assume the best about your partner and about your relationship. We allow the other person to grow by assuming that their motives are positive ones.
4. Commitment. People in happy marriages choose over and over to be married to each other. As they grow and mature they learn to appreciate each other’s individuality and they learn to stay connected to each other in a meaningful way even through storms and crises. They know that their partner will hurt them or fail them at times; may not deserve their trust and loyalty but they are there to stay. Their relationship is not perfect but their love is growing.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2