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Marriage is Hard: 12 Characteristics of a Successful Marriage

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We live in a culture with a lot of negativity surrounding the idea of a long-lasting marriage. Many are adamant that it’s simply impossible to maintain a successful marriage (because married life and marriage is hard). 

While your marriage is not doomed to fail from the start, it does take more than love to keep it going. Marriage is work! To succeed, a married couple must solve problems as a team and work through tough times together. It’s a challenging task, but it is possible. The reward is a successful, fulfilling partnership. 

In this article, we will review 12 characteristics of a successful marriage that help bust the myth that marriage is hard (or at least- not too hard). With some effort, you can build a marriage that fills you both up. 

#1 Build a Friendship That Endures Over Time and Marriage

While building a long-term friendship takes time and effort and is fraught with challenges, couples can develop and maintain a strong bond throughout a marriage. 

After getting married, it’s easy to watch the friendship your relationship was built upon slowly erode, especially if priorities diverge or the challenges of raising a family (and parenting) arise. The focus can quickly go from mutual enjoyment to taking care of transactional responsibilities. 

Establishing a fun and playful atmosphere with your spouse will help strengthen your relationship and build a lasting bond.

# 2 Be Honest About Your Needs and Expectations Throughout Marriage 

Those who try to communicate openly with their partners after are more likely to have a satisfying relationship. Marriage is work, and marriage is hard- but so is anything worth doing. Don’t always wait to discuss something with your spouse when something bothers you. 

Setting clear expectations and boundaries allows your spouse to understand you and your needs better. In successful marriages, both partners speak openly about their thoughts and feelings.

#3 Give Your Partner the Affection They Need 

All couples differ in how they show their love for one another in marriage. Affection may include cuddling, kissing, and giving compliments. Some people prefer to receive their love more physically, while others prefer to feel affection through words. Knowing what works best for you and your partner is essential to understanding how to best care for and appreciate them.

Still trying to figure it out? Ask them! Or try reading a book about love languages. 

#4 Commit to The Work of the Marriage 

After getting married, a successful relationship is a partnership in the truest sense, which means working through tough times together without giving up on the commitment and process. That way, even when you know marriage is hard, you know that the end goal is worth it for you both. 

Successful partners know that commitment and compromise are essential parts of a fulfilling marriage, and they know when to seek help for issues that cannot be resolved by themselves. Marriage is work. Whether as a couple or individually, attending counseling for men or women can help couples connect, resolve problems, and bolster their passion for each other.

commit to each other and get counseling if needed for a successful marriage

#5 Share Similar Habits in Your Marriage

Couples in long-lasting relationships tend to have similar habits. Research shows that couples with similar patterns are more satisfied. Sharing meals, sleeping in the same bed, and completing household chores are just some everyday habits that can help bolster relationships.

Do you and your partner eat healthy meals together? Cooking and dining together are both great opportunities to bond. The University of Lincoln conducted a study that showed that couples who eat together are more likely to be happy in their marriage. As a bonus, those couples who ate together also enjoyed their meals more. 

#6 Make Each Other Feel Secure and Safe in the Marriage 

Safety isn’t just about our physical well-being. Caring partners look out for each other’s mental health and emotional well-being. It can be easy for insecurities to pop up and take over in marriage. Whether in a long-term marriage or just starting one, it is crucial to let the person you love know you are committed to them. 

Life can be unpredictable, and relationships often change over time. Still, do not let those changes keep you from making your partner feel safe and secure in your life together. Marriage is work (and marriage is hard), and being a stable, steadfast partner is essential to feeling in control. 

#7 Help Each Other Feel Erotically Alive 

A healthy sexual relationship requires awareness and communication about each other’s desires, thoughts, and feelings. In a successful marriage, both partners feel erotically alive. 

Many married couples willing to express what they do and do not want from their sex life experience deeper intimacy. Eroticism isn’t about having the most sex possible. It’s about nurturing a healthy, quality physical relationship in which both partners feel satisfied. 

#8 Tackle Disagreements Head-On in Marriage

Successful marriages mean resolving conflict constructively rather than avoiding it until it festers into something that can no longer be ignored. It’s important to remember that fighting fair is not about who wins or who loses but how you fight. That means ensuring that both of you are calm and relaxed before talking about the issue and paying attention to your tone of voice when speaking.

One of the most important things successful couples do is resolve disagreements effectively in marriage. While marriage is hard, it’s a lot less hard when you aren’t yelling at each other. Instead, talk openly and remain as calm as possible.

tackle disagreements head on in marriage

#9 Spend Quality Time with Your Spouse

We’ve already talked about building friendships, and that’s hard to do if you don’t spend time with your spouse (and family) in marriage. When you feel disconnected, reconnect by making time for each other. Quality time for married couples can be anything from going out on a date, watching a movie, or visiting the beach. 

Think about the things you used to enjoy doing when you were dating: how can you bring some of that quality time into your marriage? By spending time together, you can strengthen your relationship while lessening the likelihood of disagreements.

#10 Communicate Well in Marriage

Successfully married couples communicate well and openly share their hopes, dreams, and concerns without fear of being judged or criticized by the other person. If a couple can learn to listen without interruption or assuming what their partner has to say before they finish speaking, they will feel safe enough to share these things in the first place!

#11 Take Care of Yourself

If you want a successful marriage, you must take care of yourself. Remember that marriage is work, and marriage is hard (sometimes). Eat healthily, exercise regularly, and pursue interests outside the relationship. Talk about your feelings with each other; don’t gossip or talk badly about the other, and go on dates once in a while. But also, periodically do things separately to renew your love when you’re back together. 

We want our mental health to be a top priority. Individual therapy can help you work on your mental well-being to be ready for whatever comes up in marriage. 

#12 Don’t Try to Change Each Other in Marriage

When it comes to your marriage, don’t try and change the person you love. You must accept your partner as they are. Never keep a score of who does what around the house or how much time they spend with their friends or family. It’s about balance and compromise. 

After all, this is your partner in life’s journey with whom you’ve chosen to share your days for better or worse. While marriage is hard, you don’t have to make it any harder than it needs to be by feeling resentful. 

Marriage Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Happy, fulfilling marriages are more than possible, and knowing the characteristics of a successful marriage makes you more likely to find one. Marriage is hard sometimes, and you’ll have to work to discover what success looks like for you and your partner- and that’s all part of building a life together.

Remember, these characteristics have helped many relationships, but they may not work for you. As always, don’t worry about getting it all right — simply apply what you can to your relationship.

Are you married or in a long-term relationship? What has helped you most in cultivating a positive atmosphere?

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