3 Key Elements to Successful Relationships

My big family--this is only half of them!

My big family–this is only half of them!

While spending time with my extended family this past weekend, the question people asked me the most is, “Is there a woman in your life?”

I gave the same stock answer I’ve been giving for a while: No, I haven’t made dating a priority since I started Stonemaier Games.

However, after seeing the huge family my grandmother amassed over the years, I couldn’t help but think a little about what I’m missing out on. So when I spotted an article in my unwritten blog notes called “8 Surprising (And Scientifically Proven) Things That Lead To A Lasting Marriage,” I thought it might be a good time to write about it.

I’ll list the 3 items from the list that intrigued me the most:

  1. Having a cheaper wedding. I pumped my fist when I read this. I’ve always thought that spending tens of thousands of dollars on a one-day event (instead of something that could contribute to the life you’re trying to build together, like a house) wasn’t for me. According to the article, “Among female respondents [in a research study], those with a wedding bill higher than $20,000 divorced at 3.5 times the rate of those with a $5,000-$10,000 wedding bill.” That will be my argument when my future wife asks for a $20,001 wedding.
  2. Responding to your spouse’s random, distracting comments. A long time ago I read that the two most important elements (quantitatively) to a successful marriage are (a) going to marriage counseling before you get married and (b) acknowledging your significant other when they react to something. So it was neat to see an offshoot of that in this article.
  3. Putting your partner on a pedestal. Here’s how the article highlighted this: “The study asked 222 couples to rank their partner and themselves on a variety of characteristics several times over the course of three years. Those who over-inflated their partners’ characteristics were more likely to stay blissful in their union.” This one stood out to me because it’s something I’ve really struggled with. I often put the woman I’m dating on a pedestal during the starry-eyed, puppy love portion of the relationship, but then when we get past a few months, that glow fades. Part of this is probably because I wasn’t with the right women, but I think a certain part of it is being willing to put someone on a pedestal, a concept that’s pretty foreign to me.

If you’re married, do the items on the list ring true to you? If you’re single or just dating, which of the items on the list stand out to you.

8 Responses to “3 Key Elements to Successful Relationships”

  1. Allen Chang says:

    The total cost of our wedding came to $5,000 with change, including our honeymoon. With both sides of the family’s blessings, we had the wedding at a movie theatre, invited only close friends (no parents or relatives). My sister and her boyfriend was our band. After the ceremony, we all sat and watched the Wedding Crashers.

    The rest of our savings went into a deposit for our first house.

    We’ve been together for 17 years, have 2 kids. I can’t really say that it’s somehow a marker for a successful marriage, but I guess we at least fit the profile.

  2. Jamey: This is good – thinking about marriage and what it is before you do it. I didn’t 🙂 Or maybe never thought this is necessary.

    1. Looking back at my about $6,000 wedding which we were suppose to do, ’cause everyone does that, right?! I would do things differently. We had a 100 guests, which I would limit to about 20 of the closest (that would have been considered a shame among my family, but right now I don’t care anymore).
    Not to dwell on the topic, I believe having or not having a big wedding is of no consequence in the couples life. What is 1 day compared to thousands of days, each bringing new experiences non stop?!
    2. Don’t know about the comments, but I do see reason behind counseling before getting married and it is brilliant! I was in no way prepared to be a husband. How could I, no one teaches that, there is no one good role-model for a husband to be like. Every person in your vicinity will have a different view of what kind of a husband you should be. Mostly, your mother… or your wife’s mother…
    I believe people divorce, because to promise something they are not aware of. To love, to never betray, to be loyal, care etc… what does it all mean? GO GET THAT COUNSEL! (with your woman obviously)
    3. Putting wife on a pedestal might be to much for my taste. I have a kind of approach which my father help empower: “I don’t care what my mother thinks, I don’t care what your mother thinks, I only care what you think”: it is something my father once said to my mom and I said to my wife. I only wish that my mother would remember that important moment in her life when my dad really devoted himself to her, and that I did that too to my wife, maybe she wouldn’t be such a mother-in-law but indeed a mother to my wife.

    All in all, marriage is a new life for everyone. It should not be taken lightly. Although, I am happy with what I have, I only wish I knew then what I know now. We might have less hurt each other in the process and be even happier.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Rafal: Thanks for sharing your thoughts–the last line was very moving. It’s interesting to hear about the size of your wedding in terms of people–that in hindsight, you wish it had only been about 20 people.

      In addition to what you said about counseling, I think part of the reason it’s helpful is that it teaches couples how to talk to each other in a way that they may not have learned on their own.

  3. Joe Babbitt says:

    I am a statistic! My wedding, while modest as weddings *can* go, was abhorrently expensive by my own financial standards. And it didn’t work out. Should I be married again, it will be a much more simple thing. The event isn’t a marriage, the life following it is.

    Regarding point 3, I am inclined to think it’s because you haven’t found your Person. The “honeymoon phase” only fades because people let it. If you keep yourself in awe of your partner, it will last indefinitely, and so will the magic that accompanies it. Being with the right person makes this happen pretty much autonomously.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Joe: “The event isn’t a marriage, the life following it is.” I like that a lot.

      I also like the idea of keeping myself in awe of someone. Even though it has to be the right woman, I think there’s at least a small bit of intentionality there. Or at least being open to the idea of looking at someone in that way. I’m not sure if I’ve been open to that in the past.

  4. Emma says:

    I am a huge advocate for weddings not costing too much, that’s one of my larger accomplishments! I don’t think I put my husband on a pedestal in many of the traditional senses but I did years before we dated when we worked at summer camp together and I do think that’s made a difference. Having been “in awe” of him at some point matters and on some level it has stuck with me in a good way. Interesting list!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Emma: That’s encouraging to me that maybe the pedestal can be an occasional thing instead of a constant presence. Thanks for sharing!

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