What is the secret to a successful marriage?

Love is neither a guarantee nor a safety net for a good marriage

Have you ever wondered what is the most important ingredient for a successful marriage? If you instantly thought of the word “love”, let me tell you there are few things in this world that surprise me more than the sheer number of people who believe that a healthy, happy marriage depends primarily on the amount of love shared between the two spouses.

What amazes me even more is the ease with which the young couples sweep aside potential problems in their relationship saying “love fixes everything”. Well, it doesn’t. Working day by day with couples who are struggling to save their marriage, I can now confidently say that love is neither a guarantee nor a safety net for a good marriage.
Besides, love’s key attribute is that everyone defines it differently. If you ask 100 people you will get 100 different replies on what you should expect from people who claim they love you.

I personally have concluded that love must be the most misunderstood human emotion. To decide to marry someone and base your future happiness on such a broad and vague concept without first defining it can lead to a large number of problems further down the road.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to love. What I am actually trying to say is that many people choose their partner based on some unspecified “terms of love” and end up splitting up due to communications issues! And this is absolutely understandable. How can anyone communicate properly using vague concepts that are open to many interpretations?

This is why, when a couple seeks my advice before moving forward with marriage, I try to help them define their love and along with it their needs, expectations and desires.

My point is that one should approach the subject of marriage responsibly, with full awareness, by discussing as many issues as possible and shedding light on all aspects of the relationship beforehand. This, according to my opinion, is the key to a successful marriage and the creation of a functional family.

Of course, the main focus must be the issues the couple is most reluctant to discuss. All couples have certain “taboo” topics of discussion that cause them embarrassment or agitation. Rather than allowing those issues to fester, we must seek to discuss them as they can develop into problematic aspects of our relationship that will eventually poison it!

So, my advice for you is to let love be and focus on having honest discussions with your partner on the issues that really concern you, whatever they are, because courage is the true secret of a successful marriage!

Do you have a problem that concerns you? Our resident psychotherapist Zeta Stravopodi is willing to address any personal matters. E-mail her on z.stravopodi@gmail.com

Zoe Stravopodi-Gianno works as a psychotherapist and offers advice to individuals, couples and families. She also coordinates groups interested in achieving self-awareness and personal growth. In 2012, she established “Parents School” to give parents advice as to how to navigate the choppy waters of parenthood regarding the healthy emotional growth of their children.