Getting married is not something people do lightly, generally speaking. It's also one of those things people want to succeed at. But not every marriage leads to decades of wedded bliss.
So how do you maximize your chances of making your marriage last—and last well? One newlywed decided to try crowdsourcing relationship advice from people who had done it all before, in the hope he could soak up some useful wisdom.
More than 1500 people responded to Mark Manson's call for advice, and he's since whittled the responses down to 12 common tips that came through in all the answers.
It's fascinating reading.
Here are some of the best ones.
1. Respect your partner.
"As we scanned through the hundreds of responses we received, my assistant and I began to notice an interesting trend…We noticed that the thing people with marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect.
"My sense is that these people, through sheer quantity of experience, have learned that communication, no matter how open, transparent and disciplined, will always break down at some point. Conflicts are ultimately unavoidable, and feelings will always be hurt.
"And the only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both to the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another, the fact that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another—often more than you each believe in yourselves."
2. Trust your partner—and make sure they can trust you.
Alongside respect, Manson writes that trust was the thing that came up most in the responses he received, and with good reason.
"Trust is like a china plate. If you drop it and it breaks, you can put it back together with a lot of work and care. If you drop it and break it a second time, it will split into twice as many pieces and it will require far more time and care to put back together again. But drop and break it enough times, and it will shatter into so many pieces that you will never be able to put it back together again, no matter what you do."
3. Give your partner space.
"Among the emails, one of the most popular themes was the importance of creating space and separation from one another," Manson says.
"People sung the praises of separate checking accounts, separate credit cards, having different friends and hobbies, taking separate vacations from one another each year (this has been a big one in my own relationship). Some even went so far as to recommend separate bathrooms or even separate bedrooms.
"Some people are afraid to give their partner freedom and independence. This comes from a lack of trust and/or insecurity that if we give our partner too much space, they will discover they don't want to be with us anymore. Generally, the more uncomfortable we are with our own worthiness in the relationship and to be loved, the more we will try to control the relationship and our partner's behaviors."
This brings out another theme that comes across really strongly in Manson's writing: respecting, trusting and loving yourself.
Insecurity and self-doubt are things a lot of people live with, but the way you see yourself does affect the way other people see you too. You've got to have some level of self acceptance going on before you can relax into a committed, long-term relationship.
4. Yes, sex is important.
Maybe you don't want to hear it. But chances are, if you don't want to have sex with your partner, something else is going on. Sure, not everyone wants sex all the time, but never wanting it, or forcing it—that's a real warning sign.
"Sex is the State of the Union. If the relationship is good, the sex will be good. You both will be wanting it and enjoying it. When the relationship is bad—when there are unresolved problems and unaddressed negative emotions—then the sex will often be the first thing to go out the window.
"This was reiterated to me hundreds of times in the emails. The nature of the sex itself varied quite a bit among couples—some couples take sexual experimentation seriously, others are staunch believers in frequency, others get way into fantasies—but the underlying principle was the same everywhere: both partners should be sexually satisfied as often as possible."
Manson says many of the responses to his call for advice said sex was also a way to heal rifts in the relationship and reignite the spark when it was waning.
5. Ups and downs happen in every relationship.
Manson calls this one "learning to ride the waves". He says the advice comes from a nurse, who heard it from a patient in his 80s who had a very long, very successful marriage.
"He said that, like the ocean, there are constant waves of emotion going on within a relationship, ups and downs—some waves last for hours, some last for months or even years. The key is understanding that few of those waves have anything to do with the quality of the relationship—people lose jobs, family members die, couples relocate, switch careers, make a lot of money, lose a lot of money.
"Your job as a committed partner is to simply ride the waves with the person you love, regardless of where they go."
So there you have it, tips on how to make it work, from 1500 people who know.
If you want more, you can read Manson's full story here.
H/t: Business Insider