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The Newlywed Challenge:9 Steps To A Successful Marriage

How do two people who love each other as much as they do when they are engaged, end up not speaking with each other when they get divorced? Why do some relationships flourish and others barely survive? Couples don't start out expecting their relationship to end in divorce. They get married expecting happiness and bliss. Yet, only about half of the marriages today make it and of these many are unrewarding. What do you have to do to make sure that your marriage fulfills the hopes and dreams that you have for your future?

There are nine steps to being successful in marriage. Simple and straightforward, but far from easy, your marriage will flourish if you master these critical steps. Couples that develop these skills find themselves in more satisfying relationships. Putting these skills into practice in your marriage is a most difficult challenge, but well worth the effort as an investment in your future together.

1. Build Your Foundation

The personality of a new marriage is formed in the first years of marriage. Obviously, partners begin to form their unique connection from the very beginning of the relationship. Once they are wed, spouses need to redefine their relationship and try to figure out how to be married. Technically, the transition from being single to being married occurs with the exchange of vows and rings, and then the kiss, but in reality this transformation evolves over the next few years. However long it takes to achieve, "I" needs must become "we" needs in order for the marriage to work.

2. Establish Boundaries

Boundaries help to define how the marriage will function between husband and wife, and between the marriage and the outside world. Once married, change is inevitable in our relationships with friends and family. The married couples challenge is to be successful in forming new relationships with these important people. Spouses must also establish boundaries between one another to function properly. Boundaries help establish rules for our marital relationship. While boundaries can and should be questioned, where partners draw the lines in a relationship should always be respected.

3. Form New Habits

Since you're not single anymore, figuring out together how things are going to be accomplished is essential to a successful marriage. I'm talking about the nuts and bolts of living together. How does the house get cleaned, the bills get paid, the phone calls get made, and so on. This is an aspect of marriage that can cause the most intense conflict for couples. Take the time to discuss how all of these tasks are going to be accomplished and revisit this subject often.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

Basically, we all just want to be heard. Communication in marriage occurs on many different levels. Look forward to conversations with your spouse and make sure you listen when your spouse talks. Be interested in what is happening in their life, let them know that you are listening and let them explain what they mean so you can be sure that you understand.

5. Learn To Negotiate

It is true. The #1 reason couples divorce is problems dealing with conflict. Learning to negotiate isn't just a good idea- it is essential if your marriage is going to survive and flourish. To help you get started, try this. When you find yourself in an argument with your spouse - keep it in the present, keep it focused on the issue and keep searching until you find the solution that works best, and then live with your mutual choice.

6. Play Together

Playing together keeps us in touch with our youth, provides a diversion to our complicated adult worlds and provides us a way to channel our competitive nature. As long as you keep the competition friendly, the ability to play together should always be present in your marriage. Whether playing scrabble, playing in the bedroom or playing sports, couples that learn to play nicely together will have fewer problems making their marriage work.

7. Keep Laughing

Making each other laugh probably brought you together when you first met. It keeps you feeling connected throughout your relationship. As long as your humor stays funny and doesn't have that nasty, biting tone of sarcasm, laughing together always works in a marriage.

8. Love Your Differences

In case you hadn't noticed, men and women really are different. Different in the way they perceive their relationship; different in their reaction to situations; and different in the way they communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other. You can complain about the differences, you can try to eliminate the differences or you can figure out how to make the difference work for the relationship. The challenge is to figure out how to make those differences into an asset instead of a liability.

9. Watch Those Expectations

We all have expectations about what we anticipate from our marriage. The problem is that we don't always discuss what they are with each other. Since our expectations are often different, it is crucial to keep sharing your hopes and dreams with your partner. It doesn't matter if you reach all of your goals. It is more important that you have a good time trying to reach them together.

Master these 9 steps above and you will ensure that you and your spouse will remain friends, remain married and remain sane!

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