1. Trust is at the heart of a great marriage. Trust is built over time. In the best marriages, trust grows and is never diminished. There is no cheating, dishonesty, or infidelity in great marriages and relationships. Those that fool themselves into thinking otherwise are, shall we say, simply fools. Trust is critical to a thriving relationship and marriage. Break the trust, destroy the relationship. And to those who say, “Well, we can repair our loving relationship” after one or the other violates the most basic trust – all we can say is you will have joined the ranks of the divorced!
2. Recognize that a successful marriage and relationship is easy to understand, but difficult to put into practice. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. A successful marriage takes hard work! In the end, a successful relationship between two human beings is always about working hard to do the simple things. Being kind, showing respect, engaging in simple acts and simple gestures. In the end we have learned this – a successful marriage is an accumulation of having done the simple things. A dozen roses on Valentine’s Day is not enough if you neglect the other 364 days of the year. Never, ever be lulled into thinking that you can take your marriage for granted. Work to make it work everyday of your lives together.
3. It is always better to laugh a lot than cry in a marriage! Here is the simple truth – a successful marriage does not suffer whining well! Nobody ever promised that your marriage would be fair, just, and beautiful all the time. Sure, things go wrong occasionally. You carry more debt than is healthy. You have children (Nora Ephron once said that “Having children is like throwing a hand-grenade into your marriage.”). You have trouble paying your mortgage. All marriages go through trauma and uncertainty. Your relationship is not alone in this. What makes your marriage work is how you react to the tough times – the uncertain times. And sometimes, you just laugh a lot! Laughing cleanses the soul. Laughter purifies the relationship between you and your partner. Laughter is the best medicine sometimes. Always remember this – it takes more muscles to frown than it does to laugh. How about more laughter in your lives together? Laughter could make or break your marriage.
4. The most important element of a great relationship is love – L-O-V-E. The most successfully married couples tell us this – express love to your mate multiple times during the day in a variety of ways. If you truly love someone you will find many ways to tell them. And there is a corollary – love is not enough. The one you love should also be your best friend. It is not enough to love someone and to express that love. You must also be their best friend. In our travels around the world we have discovered many simple truths, but foremost among these is that the one you love must also be your best friend!
5. All great relationships are characterized by “give and take.” In great relationships, you win some and you lose some. Never be obsessed by being right! Frankly, the most important notion you should take from this is that great marriages are characterized by “finding common ground” and creating “common solutions.” Share the burden. Don’t always feel like you have to find the best solution by yourself. Search for areas of agreement. Great relationships share the decision-making. Being right when you are wrong is not a good solution to any debate. Give a little, take a little. Arrive at the common ground that makes your relationship work.
Oh, the wisdom of New Zealanders! Oh, the wisdom of those who have great marriages around the world. Great marriages do, indeed, possess common elements.