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When a couple marries, a bond of love is invariably present; this bond will at times be put to the test, because marriage is no ‘bed of roses’. For most couples this bond will grow, mature and become a wonderful source of joy despite the rough times. However, others may not cope well with the problems of living together. To split up is a terrible loss in every respect, especially for any children of the marriage.

Many troubled couples have achieved great happiness by following some basic rules of sharing.

The three keys to marital success are caring, respect and responsibility.

Some common causes of marital trouble

  • Selfishness

  • Financial problems/meanness

  • Gambling

  • Sickness (e.g. depression, chronic disease)

  • ‘Playing games’ with each other

  • Poor communication

  • Unrealistic expectations

  • Not listening to each other

  • Drug or alcohol excess

  • Jealousy and mistrust, especially in men

  • Fault finding

  • Driving ambition

  • Immaturity

Some important facts

  • Research has shown that we tend to choose partners who are similar to our parents and that we may take our childish and selfish attitudes into our marriage.

  • The trouble spots listed above reflect this childishness; we often expect our partners to change and meet our needs.

  • If we take proper care and responsibility, we can keep these problems to a minimum.

  • Physical passion is not enough to hold a marriage together—‘when it burns out, only ashes will be left’.

  • While a good sexual relationship is great, most experts agree that what goes on out of bed counts for more.

  • Open and clear communication is paramount. Let one another know what you are thinking and feeling. Don’t allow miscommunication to lead to misunderstandings.

  • When we do something wrong, it is most important that we feel forgiven by our partner.

Positive guidelines for success

  1. Know yourself. The better you know yourself, the better you will know your mate.

  2. Share interests and goals. Do not become too independent of each other. Develop mutual friends, interests and hobbies. Tell your partner ‘I love you’ regularly at the right moments.

  3. Create time for one another. Dedicate a portion of your day, no matter how small, to giving your loved one your undivided attention. It creates the perfect forum to support one another through the good and bad.

  4. Continue courtship after marriage. Spouses should continue to court and desire each other. Going out regularly for romantic evenings and giving unexpected gifts (such as flowers) are ways to help this loving relationship. Engage in some high-energy fun activities such as massaging and dancing.

  5. Make love, not war. Learn about sex and reproduction. A good sexual relationship can take years to develop, so work at making it better. Explore the techniques of lovemaking without feeling shy or inhibited. This can be helped by books such ...

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