Dr. Terri Orbuch has followed almost 400 couples for the last 26 years. And through her research, she's found common threads that enable marriages to stay together:
- First: Know each other's expectations. According to Dr. Orbuch, one of the main reasons marriages fail is frustrations over unrealistic expectations. The fix: Write down the 2 most important things you want from your spouse. And be specific. For example, skip vague phrases like "I want us to talk more often." And replace them with concrete requests, like "I'd like you to call me once during the day." And if you get a request that sounds unreasonable, say so - and find a compromise that works for you both.
- Another divorce-proof tip: Practice "affective affirmation." That's the psychological term for letting someone know they're appreciated. And it can be as simple as saying, "You look great today" or "Thanks for getting the kids ready for school." And ladies, one surprising finding is that men actually need more affirmation than women. Because men aren't as likely as women to get praise from their friends.
- Finally: Successful couples spend time EVERY day getting to know each other. Think about it: When was the last time you asked your spouse about the books they read, or shared a childhood memory? Dr. Orbuch says that, in most marriages, almost all conversations are limited to 4 topics: Work, kids, chores, and money. And while they're important, they don't help you get closer. The fix: Spend at least 10 minutes a day discussing the things you talked about when you first started dating - or things you would share with friends. We often talk about a broader range of subjects with our friends to keep the conversations interesting.