Expert advice and relationship tips on the best ways to form a tighter bond, unlock more happiness, take on tough issues, and keep your marriage solid for a long, long time.
5. Always fight fair.
Conflict is a normal, even healthy, part of any marriage. What’s important is how you handle it. In a Florida study of longtime couples, joint problem-solving ability was cited as a key factor for 70 percent of satisfied pairs; just 33 percent of unsatisfied couples had mastered this skill. With the right tools and attitude, conflict becomes a gateway to deeper intimacy—the chance to be seen and loved for who you truly are, to accept your mate’s adorable, vulnerable real self, and to build a strong union without caving in or silently seething.
First, steer clear of criticism, confrontation and hostility. They’re like gas on a fire. University of California researchers who followed 79 couples for more than a decade found that early divorcers fought long and loud and were always on the attack—or the defensive. Happy couples, on the other hand, avoid verbalizing critical thoughts, keep discussions from escalating, and don’t use absolutes like “never” and “always.”
If a fight does start, try to change the subject, inject gentle humor, empathize or show your spouse extra appreciation. Too late? Call a truce, walk away and cool off for a while.
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