Spoiler alert: marriage is tough and it takes work. And even then there are no guarantees. These days the divorce rate is skyrocketing with reports showing that 40 to 50 percent of married couples will eventually separate. And, disturbingly, the divorce rate for those who remarry is even higher.
However, it’s not all bad news. Many men are enjoying happy, successful marriages and partnerships. What’s their secret? Well, no happy man is alike. But all happy men do share certain qualities. That’s what Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, has learned from her decades of working with scores of married couples.
“The biggest common denominator that all successful, long-lasting marriages have is two willing partners who solemnly commit to staying together ‘no matter what,’” she says. “They have all possibilities discussed openly prior to marriage and agreed to stick it out and stay in the marriage regardless of the conflict, challenge, or issue that arises.”
In addition, Walfish says these five traits are always evident in the men who have successful, long lasting marriages.
1. They Are Self-Aware
The ability to understand and accept and yourself is essential in a marriage. For one, when someone is able to clearly understand and express their thoughts, feelings, and innate impulses, they’re more receptive to their partner. For another, they also just have a better awareness of their own tendency to get, say, defensive, or be messy, and won’t be so quick to blame someone else for their habits. It’s about understanding who you are.
“By marriage, every man should be well practiced in open, honest self-evaluation and introspection,” Walfish says. “He should be comfortable examining his feelings so as not to automatically repeat mistakes of his past. Self-awareness is comforting and leads to a calm state of mind.”
2. They Communicate Well
“Good communication includes talking about feelings,” says Walfish reiterating a fact that everyone has read, heard, and undoubtedly tried to practice before realizing that communicating well, of course, is easier said than done. But that, she says, is the point. “When there’s a disagreement and heat goes up, most people have a hard time listening without interrupting, judging, blaming, or shutting down into silence,” she adds. “Wrestling with conflict and hanging in while struggling to work things through with your partner is the stuff that separates success from failure in relationships.” In other words: Talking is the glue that holds relationships and people together.
3. They Understand Their Partner
No, this isn’t some Men are from Mars, Women are Some Venus-type lecture. Walfish means that men in successful marriages take time to learn and understand how their wives feel and react and see the world. They know what upsets them. They know how to make them happy. They make mistakes and learn from them. “Many of my female patients complain that their man doesn’t understand them,” says Walfish. “Then, they invite their guy to join them in a therapy session and lo and behold, it’s true The guy doesn’t have the foggiest notion of how women function or feel.”
4. They Don’t Wallow in Disappointment
Life, as they say, lobs a lot of hand grenades your way. How you handle their explosions is extremely important in how you fare along the long road of marriage. In other words: The people who are in the most successful relationships know how to stand back up after a gut punch comes their way and not wallow in their disappointments.
“By marriage,” says Walfish, “every man should know that we can’t protect ourselves or prevent life’s disappointments,” says Walfish. “The best we can do is equip ourselves with coping skills to deal with inevitable letdowns without raging into a furious tantrum or collapsing into depression.”
5. They Know the Female Body
Good husbands, per Walfish, know what does and doesn’t feel good on their wives body. They don’t fumble around awkwardly and put pressure where they know pressure is not enjoyed. In other words, through trial and error, they have learned how to pleasure their wives and understand their desires. “Of course, each woman is different and has different preferences,” she says. “This is where good communication skills are necessary.”