We have been engaged in marriage research for nearly three decades around the world and have never been asked this question until recently – “Are there words or phrases you listen for when you interview the best marriages around the world?” This is a great question and we are delighted to share the answer with our thousands of loyal readers around the world.
Over the course of our many, many interviews with successfully married couples on six of the world’s seven continents (Number 7, Antarctica, is coming up in January 2012!), we have discovered SEVEN pervasive characteristics that describe and permeate the best marriage relationships.
So when we were recently asked this question on our swing through the Miami area to interview successfully married couples, we choose to answer it based on our discovery of how the best marriages are described in our research.
The most successfully married couples (longevity plus measured happiness according to our marriage interview protocol) use specific words and phases as they talk about their relationship with each other. Here is the important lesson for our readers – if you and your mate do not routinely use these words and phrases in your marriage, you need to take a long, hard look at where your relationship is and where it is going.
Here we go, the words and descriptors of the best marriages:
1. It Takes Two To Tango – In successful marriages, two become one in so many positive and important ways without losing their individual identities. The best marriages have discovered that it is not about you and me, it is about us, our, and we! It is not about “I” and “me,” and “yours.” The most important seven words and phases used within this context by successfully married couples are: We, us, our, together, we are a team, we are like one, we cannot imagine life without each other.
2. No Sacred Cows – In successful marriages, couples talk about anything and everything. There are no sacred cows – no secrets. In the best marriages you hear these words and phases: Truthfulness, confidant, we never worry about betrayal, we know nearly everything about each other, we are the keepers of each other’s deepest and darkest secrets, we trust each other with our respective lives and sacred honor.
3. The Golden Rule – In successful marriages, couples understand that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Successful love and marriage is about mutual love and respect. In the best marriages you hear these six words and phrases the most when it comes to The Golden Rule: Mutual respect, admiration, we repeatedly engage in acts of kindness towards each other; we do nice things for each other with no expectation of something in return; we each other’s needs and wants; we say thank you and please; we open doors for each other. Successfully married couples do all these things automatically, without ever thinking about it. They are habitual.
4. Your Body Is Your Castle – In successful marriages, couples understand that taking care of yourself in a health sense is not sufficient. You must also promote health in your spouse. To live until “death do us part” requires a mutual concern about good health. Here are the words and phrases they use: Health, fitness, exercise, vitamins, salads, taking annual physical exams on the same day; we worry about what each other eats; we remind each other to “take your medicine;” we take long walks andexercise together; whenever possible we shop for food together!
5. Filing a Joint Return – In successful marriage, it is not YOUR money and MY money. It is OUR money. Here are the words and phrases they use: Our financial goals, joint finances (no separate checking accounts), joint decision making, we talk before we buy big items, our house, our bills, we look for bargains, and we live within our means.
6. The Loving Touch – In successful marriages, touching each other multiple times per day is the norm. Their mantra is, “I love you so much I must touch you.” The best married couples cannot keep their hands off each other! And that’s a good thing. They tell us that: We love to hug; we have great sex when the time is right for us; our hands will always find each other whereever we are; we touch each other often in a day; touching acknowledges the presence of each other and reminds us of our love for each other; our hands communicate private and loving messages to each other – it is our private Morse Code. Touching communicates warmth, caring, friendship, love, and understanding.
7. Beyond Boring – In successful marriages, love is characterized by the notions of variety and spice. Successful marriages are exciting, never boring, and full of unpredictable things. Don’t always do that which is predictable. Upend expectacies. Variety is the spice of life! The best marriages use words and phrases like: Fun, adventure, surprise, romance, always finding something to do together, we never get bored with each other, we are each other’s best friends, we do our best to keep our romance alive even during trying or challenging times, we are passionate about each other; we are each other’s best company. In the best marriages, boredom is not an option!
You see, the words and phrases you use tell a lot about your marriage. If you don’t hear these words and phrases in your marriage and relationship, it is clear you have some work to do. Get started today before it’s too late to form the habits that communicate love.
In love and marriage, simple words and phrases mean a lot!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book