By: Cassandra Soars
Most people know a couple who have a marriage to admire. My husband and I met a lovely Dutch couple in Toronto at a conference almost seven years ago. Fedde and Ria have been married for over 30 years, and they make marriage look easy and beautiful.
They were able to share some of their wisdom with me and my husband during a tough season in our marriage, and they spent a significant amount of time helping us get to the other side of our challenges. Want to know their secrets of a successful marriage? Here are 7 of them.
1. Successful couples are positive about each other.
They don’t speak negatively of their spouse to anyone, and they encourage one another rather than criticize.
2. Successful couples apologize as soon as possible and bounce back from disagreements quickly.
One of my friends told me that his mentor taught him early on in marriage that the stronger person apologizes first, even if they are only 1% wrong. This secret helps disarm the conflict almost immediately.
3. They grow and try new things together.
It’s easy to grow apart if you’re not growing together. Learning something new together will often bring new joys and new ways of connecting. Now that their four kids are grown, Fedde and Ria have begun traveling and exploring new horizons together.
4. Each person in a successful relationship takes care of themselves.
They are proactive in dealing with their own emotional baggage, past hurt and anything that would limit them from being a healthy person. They don’t let their stuff get in the way. Before he retired, Fedde was a veterinarian surgeon, which often kept him up all hours of the night helping farm animals deliver their young. When he had a physical burnout, Ria took care of the demands of the family, and Fedde made sure he took time to fully recover from the toll of his career, so he could also be healthy again and able to give to Ria and the kids.
5. Successful couples try to see things from each other’s point of view.
They don’t become defensive, but they practice empathy. When Fedde and Ria don’t understand the other’s point of view, they spend hours sitting together and gently discussing the situations and their respective feelings in order to come to a place of empathy. They actively show one another they care by trying to see things from the other’s point of view.
6. They commit to forever.
They never threaten to leave because they don’t consider leaving an option. Opening the door to divorce mentally has an immediate negative impact on a marriage. It weakens your resolve to stay. Love is an act of the will, and resolve is essential.
7. They make each other a priority and don’t take each other for granted.
They put in effort, and they never stop dating. This takes intentionality and effort, but it is effort that produces great results in the relationship. Couples that do this will never be lonely in their marriage.