I call them the 6 Pillars of a Happy Marriage. They are not merely marriage ideas, tips, or concepts. They are fundamental and integral to a happy marriage. They are not even my ideas or anything that is based on my life experiences. If they were, they would only apply to people who are like me, raised like me, raised where I was raised, and had similar life experiences. No, these are far more universal than that. These 6 Pillars of a Happy Marriage apply directly to you and your marriage.
I use the term “pillar” on purpose. The definition of pillar is fitting. According to Merriam Webster, the definitions that apply include:
- A firm upright support for a superstructure
- A supporting, integral, or upstanding member or part
- A fundamental precept
These pillars do support a superstructure, your marriage.
These pillars are integral to your happy marriage.
These pillars are precepts, or rules, that say how married couples should act.
As I said early, I did not come up with these pillars. I would love to say that I did, but I was merely a researcher who sorted through a lot of information and categorized that information into these pillars. So, who did come up with the source information? They are the best marriage experts who have superior results. I’m talking about folks like:
- Cloe Madanes – a founder of strategic family therapy and trainer of over 100,000 counselors.
- Dr. Greg Baer – author of the “Real Love” book series and teacher on the real meaning of unconditional love.
- Dr. John Gottman – the foremost marriage researcher, author, and trainer.
- Dr. John Gray, author of the “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” book series, and expert on gender differences.
- Dr. Willard Harley, Jr, founder of Marriage Builders, author, and expert on infidelity and marital conflict.
- Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, author of the “Love and Respect” book series, combining scientific research with Biblical principles.
- Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the “5 Love Languages” book series and teacher on how to truly love.
- And several more.
As a marriage coach certified in Strategic Interventions, I know how important it is to get to the root of marriage problems and not mired in surface issues. The best practices of these marriage experts help to do just that. What I summarize as the 6 Pillars of a Happy Marriage are fundamental to your long-term marriage success and happiness.
Imagine a building structure held up by 6 pillars. The structure is solid. It can withstand terrifying storms. It is a place of comfort and safety. It is a refuge. Now imagine that same structure without one of the pillars. Take out a second pillar, and a third. The once solid and safe structure will now likely fall down, break apart, and harm anyone under the structure. With the removal of even one pillar, the structure becomes weaker and less safe. When bad storms hit, without even one pillar, the structure is compromised. Without a second or third pillar, even the smallest of storms can destroy what was once a safe place.
The structure is your marriage. When your marriage is supported by these 6 pillars, it is solid and can endure the most terrifying of marital storms. Remove even a single pillar, and your marriage is weakened and less safe. Remove a second or third pillar, and the marriage is likely to fail, break apart, and hurt those once protected.
For those who participate in my marriage coaching programs, each month I address the issues presented with a focus on a pillar, in the following order. The order is important. The first 3 pillars focus on understanding yourself and your spouse in a way you have probably never experienced before. Understanding yourself and your spouse is critical. When I see couples reach this new level of understanding I can see their eyes light up as they now understand why they or their spouse do the things they do. That new understanding reduces conflict and arguments. The 4th pillar looks at the best practices of happy marriages. The 5th pillar addresses the behaviors and attitudes that destroy a marriage. Finally, the 6th pillar ties the previous 5 pillars in with practices that are conducive to long-term and abundantly happy marriages.
6 Pillars of a Happy Marriage
Pillar #1 – Human Needs
We all have 6 human needs. They are the root cause for why we do the things we do. It is said that if 2 needs are fulfilled between you and another person, a connection is formed, like friendship. When 4 are met, a bond is formed. When all 6 human needs are met, an everlasting relationship is formed. A marriage is happier and stronger when you and your spouse meet each others needs. Problems occur in a marriage when either spouse has several needs met outside the marriage or not from their spouse.
The 6 human needs are certainty, uncertainty, significance, love, growth, and contribution. When I coach couples in Pillar 1 we do an exercise that allows each partner to discover their priority of the needs and existing behaviors tied to each need. We then discuss new ways each can positively enforce the needs of their partner. This exercise quickly goes past the surface issues and directly to the root causes of problems in a marriage, providing new and positive ways to have the happy marriage dreamed of.
Pillar #2 – Love, Sex, and Affection
Love, sex, and affection are critical elements of a happy marriage. It is hard for a woman to feel loved without affection. It is hard for a man to feel loved without sex.
A common issue heard by marriage coaches is that one spouse feels they are not being loved by their partner, but the partner feels they are showing love. The problem is that they are not speaking the love language of their spouse. It is a marriage problem that has an easy, and reasonably quick, solution. This is another example where surface issues may cloud the real problem. The surface issue could be something like he’s lazy, or she nags. Once partners recognizes and their own love language and the love language for their partner, they will know how to express love in a way that will connect them to their partner and be understood.
Sex and affection are often the top emotional needs for men and women. You cannot have one without the other. A man wants sex, but often fails at providing affection to his wife. When a wife does not feel affection from her husband, she will often not be in the mood for sex. The two work together. Pillar 2 delves into the importance of sex and affection, and what each partner needs to do in order to have their emotional needs for affection and sex fulfilled.
Pillar #3 – Understanding Gender Differences
Men and women are different, plain and simple. As much as our culture wants to encourage equality, we must understand that men and women think and act differently, even when given the same situation. These differences refer to common stereotypes. While there are men who might exhibit more female energy than their wives, and wives exhibit more male energy than their husbands, these stereotypes still have many applications. A common example is when each partner comes home from a strenuous day at work. Many men like to relax by being quiet, go to their man cave, and not have to think about anything. Many women come home and want to de-stress by talking about their day, what happened, who said what to whom, and how all these events made them feel. When the two mingle at this time he can end up angry and she can end up with hurt feelings.
A better understanding of how men and women are different can alleviate potential problems and help each partner work with their spouse in ways that are conducive to a happier and friendlier marriage. In a Pillar 3 coaching session I teach many examples of the common differences between men and women and how to turn the differences into marital advantages. This is another way couples can come to a whole new understanding why we do the things we do, and how to turn that into a happy marriage.
Pillar #4 – Best Practices for a Happy Marriage
Marriage experts know what couples have to do in order to have a happy marriage. This information comes from scientific research and decades of study. It isn’t a mystery. For example, one such best practice is the concept of the “love bank.” Just like a financial bank, a love bank makes deposits (things that helps a partner feel more love), and withdrawals (things that helps a partner feel less love). Knowing this best practice, and having a much better understanding of who they are and and who their partner is, couples will know exactly with no uncertain terms what they have to do to make the love bank grow exceedingly large.
The more best practices a couple knows and puts into action, the better chance they have of being happily married. In a Pillar 4 coaching session I teach many best practices and exactly how they apply to the couple. In a brainstorming session we look at the best practices and come up with new and creative ways the couple can put them into action. These new and creative behaviors are key to having a vigorous marriage where boredom is a thing of the past.
Pillar #5 – Disrupters of a Happy Marriage
Contrary to the best practices of a happy marriage, disrupters are the attitudes and behaviors that hurt and destroy a marriage. Imagine a disrupter as knocking down the pillars of your happy marriage. Once again, information about these disrupters comes from scientific research and decades of study. One disrupter that is becoming a more common marriage problem is that of selfish demands. Take for example an evening with Bob and Mary. After Mary came home from work, she fixed dinner for herself and Bob. After dinner, Bob goes to the living room and watches TV, leaving Mary to clean up the kitchen. Mary gets frustrated and angrily demands that Bob either help out in the kitchen or take care of some of the chores he is behind on. While it is easy to see that Bob was making a selfish demand on Mary by not helping in the kitchen or doing his agreed upon chores, Mary has also made a selfish demand on Bob to immediately stop what he was doing (watching TV) and do some work around the house (an act of service).
This situation can be easily fixed with an understanding of what disrupts a happy marriage and alternative ways of handling disruptive attitudes and behaviors. In a Pillar 5 coaching session I teach 10 of the more common marriage disrupters and how to avoid them. For couples who experience the disrupters in their marriage, changing such attitudes and behaviors can take time and effort. We discuss several ways to diffuse tense and argumentative situations and how to move forward in a way that enhances love and happiness.
Pillar #6 – Constant Improvement
We know the divorce rate is much higher today than what it has been just a few decades ago. This is even after the rise of the internet and massive amounts of marriage advice available to everyone. Knowing what to do to fix a marriage problem is a good thing. Taking action on the advice is even better. There are many who get positive results from the knowledge they learn and action they take, but the results are short lived. The key to having a long-term and happy marriage is a commitment to constant improvement. As the adage goes, we are either growing or we are dying. A marriage either grows or it dies. It does not stay the same. Couples that fall into the trap of being comfortable in their marriage often find themselves wandering away from happiness and one day waking up feeling miserable and no longer in love.
There are many simple things that can be done to keep the marriage alive and vibrant. In a Pillar 6 coaching session, I teach many of these simple and easy things that keeps the couple feeling in bliss and intimate. We discuss ways to develop a routine that stays fresh and creative. The goal is having a long-term and happy marriage. Maintaining that vision of having a wonderful marriage should always be a fundamental part in the lives of every happy couple.
As you can see, these 6 Pillars are not merely ideas or tips. They are the result of difficult research and years of study. In organizing the information into these 6 Pillars, I hope to make it clear what it takes to have a long-term happy marriage. If you want to improve the quality of your marriage, I want to help. I can help you have the happy marriage you dream about. There is a coaching program that is right for you. Check them out today. I look forward to helping you achieve your dream marriage.
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