“One aspect of a successful relationship is not just how compatible you are, but how you deal with your incompatibility.”

—Daniel Goleman, Founder of the Emotional Intelligence Movement

Image of an older couple sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean

Image from Unsplash by James Hose Jr.

Did you know that in western cultures, over 90 percent of people marry? Healthy marriages are good for the couple, and for their children. Unfortunately, 40-50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

During the courting/dating phase of a relationship, compatibility is a key element to the initial connection. Over time, partners begin seeing aspects of one another they were a bit blind to during the “show only your best side” phase.

Goleman and other experts on successful marriage point to numerous success factors – see the list below – that help marriage stand the test of time.

  • Respecting each other’s differences
  • Sharing common values
  • Open and honest communication
  • Being fair and respectful
  • Having a sense of humor
  • Demonstrating appreciation and gratitude
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Sensitivity, compassion, empathy
  • Seeing your marriage as a partnership and working as a team
  • Forgiveness for your partner and yourself

EXERCISE:

On this Valentine’s Day, consider having a discussion with your partner regarding this list. What efforts can and will you take to make your relationship more successful and fulfilling?

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