Giving up to get more is my new mantra. Whether its our personal finances or marriage – there are often things we must absolutely give up to get the results we desire.  It is estimated that half of all marriages end in divorce.  To make things a bit easier, the province of British C0lumbia launched an online divorce tool with a 30-minute guide to sever the knot.  With the click of a mouse, couples can end their marriage in half an hour.

I’m a big proponent of keeping families together.  I’ve seen first hand the devastation of separation (whether by death or divorce).  I suffered through grief and loss after my husband died, and subsequently remarried. Whether you’re a newly wed or in a second marriage, the same success principles apply. Often, there are things you will need to “give up” in order to be successful in marriage.

13 Things To Give Up If You Want To Have A Happy Marriage

1. Give up on the need to “win” every argument

The need to win an argument is for elementary school not for your soulmate and life partner. We all go through times where we just want to prove a point. We constantly need our partner to see our point – and it’s hard to back down – especially when we think they’re just not “listening”.

In addition, a bad marriage with frequent conflicts could have a serious detrimental impact on your health, according to psychologists.

Researchers at the universities of Nevada and Michigan monitored 373 heterosexual couples to investigate whether disagreeing about multiple topics – such as children, money, in-laws and leisure activities – had negative health implications.

The researchers followed married couples over the first 16 years of marriage and compared the subjective health of wives and husbands who reported a greater number of conflict topics to those who reported fewer. The preliminary results were presented at the International Association for Relationship Research conference in Colorado.

The researchers found that marital conflict negatively affected health for both husbands and wives, although there was a greater impact of conflict on men than women. Couples who agreed with each other more experienced health benefits early on in their relationships, but this protective effect wore off in the later years of marriage.

2. Give up the need for perfection

Nothing in life is ever perfect. Your spouse isn’t perfect and neither are you. University of British Columbia psychology professor Paul Hewitt says there’s a difference between helpful traits such as being conscientious and striving for excellence and the drive to be perfect.

That quest to fix perceived flaws puts a lot of stress on a person’s mental health. If you’re constantly having an inner dialogue about what’s wrong with yourself or others, it can lead to all kinds of psychological distress and dysfunction. Perfectionism, he says, “is about correcting a perceived sense of being not good enough by being or appearing to be perfect.”
According to research published in the American Psychological Association (APA), there’s an alarming and increasing trend in the number of young people suffering from perfectionism — and according to the research, it’s leading to soaring rates of depression and suicide.

It appears this phenomenon is also more common among millennials, who are under immense pressure from always being “sifted, sorted and ranked” — in exams, job performance assessments, or on social media, where they feel compelled to curate a perfect life. However, this applies to all generations – not just millennials.

If you are in a marriage or relationship, give up the comparisons, your relationship will be better for it.

3. Give up dwelling on the past

Whether it’s a past relationship or childhood hurts or pains – leave it all behind. Dwelling on the past will only hurt you and your partner. It threatens really living in the present and it threatens a happy future together. A marriage is hard enough as it is without constantly referring back to a past argument or worse childhood hurts that keep manifesting themselves. Find a way to deal with the past by embracing forgiveness and gratitude.

4. Give up the need for control

Frequent jealousy, paranoia, over-active monitoring or using guilt as a too to control your partner has no place in a healthy relationship or marriage.

An imbalance of control in a marriage is a major sign that the relationship is in ill-health.  Each partner should assess their actions carefully to ensure that controlling behaviors are not seeping into the marriage – it often starts small and it often starts as a result of  feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.  Self-care and communication is key and if you think you need to get help, then do so.

5. Give up on saying YES to everything else BUT your marriage

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3

Put your spouse first. People in happy marriages know they have to say NO to certain tasks, activities, and demands from their friends, extended family, and colleagues. It’s pretty simple: Value others (in this case, your spouse) above yourself, and above everyone else, including the kids.

6. Give up the need for immediate results

We live in a culture of instant gratification and it seems that the need for instant gratification has also seeped into our relationships. The Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project sums up a recent study about people under the age of 35 and the dangers of their hyper connected lives with what sounds like a prescription drug warning: “Negative effects include a need for instant gratification and loss of patience”.  We have high- speed internet and same day delivery.

Why not the same with our relationships?  Well, relationships require a whole different set of requirements: patience, kindness, caring and understanding. These require that we slow down to listen and understand the needs of our partners and really internalize what it is that they need from us.  Nothing will be immidiate but the positive effects of a happy marriage will be long lasting.

7. Give up on the comparisons

Instagram, facebook, twitter – social media on a whole can have a negative effect on relationships. Everyone puts their best forward and you don’t see what happens behind close doors.

Jeffrey Dew, an associate professor at Utah State University, conducted a study with a colleague on 1,300 couples, the state of their marriages, and media use. They asked the couples questions designed to tease out how happy their relationships were (for example, how often they fought and how likely they thought they were to divorce). They also noted how much time each participant spent on social media, watching television, and playing video games.

The results were interesting. The more the men used social media, the lousier they and their wives felt about their marriages. Women’s social media use didn’t have much of an effect on the quality of their marriages. There are a couple of possible explanations for this: that men who are unhappy in their marriages may spend more time on Facebook because they need more social connection and support than they’re getting at home, or it could be that men who’re spending a lot of time online are ticking off their wives and eroding the quality of the relationship.

Whatever is the source of the comparisons – it does nothing but hurt your marriage. Give it up.

8. Give up the fixed mindset (Embrace a Growth Mindset)

Every marriage demands an effort to keep it on the right track; there is a constant tension … between the forces that hold you together and those that can tear you apart. – John Gottman

Carol Dweck’s chapter, Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not) in her book, Mindsets: The new psychology of success.

Fixed Mindset Attitude 1. If you have to work at it, it wasn’t meant to be.

 Fixed Mindset Attitude 2. Problems indicate character flaws.

Mindsets are changeable. People who recognize the limitations of fixed mindsets can learn how to adopt growth mindsets.  The growth mindset sees opportunities for self-growth and learning through marriage and isn’t constantly attributing failure to some fatal relationship flaw.

9.Give up thinking your partner is the enemy.

You’re actually on the same battlefield but not on opposing sides. Slowing things down a bit in the heat of an argument can help us remember that we should be building bridges not walls.

Practicing emotional regulation is a skill to manage those strong emotions so they don’t control our actions. This requires that we learn to recognize and handle them.

According to Linda Carrol, licensed marriage and family therapist, this means practicing soothing self-talk, doing some deep breathing, or taking a break. Being certain that we are right or wanting intensely to make our point may both be signs that our emotions are running the show rather than our smart selves.

10. Give up thinking Love is a Noun. It’s actually a Verb

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

We often treat love like a noun. It’s an experience that happened. A moment. A thing. It is not a fireworks feeling or a field of flowers. It’s an action. A verb. It’s not just about choosing the right person; it’s about becoming the right person, the type of person. Get prepared to work hard in a marriage – really hard.

11. Give up thinking your spouse is the only one that needs to change

 There are two reasons in why you think your spouse is the only person in the relationship that needs to change. Both of these reasons hinge on self serving actions that have no place in a marriage.

a. You want to see your spouse become more like you or replicate your actions.

b. You think your marriage exists to meet solely your needs.

Instead of thinking that your spouse is the one who needs changing, start thinking about the benefit of having two perspectives.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to see your spouse change and grow. If your spouse is abusive or has addictions or aggressive behaviors – that has no place in a marriage (and that’s a different matter altogether).  Outside of those reasons, everything else is a compromise.

12. Give up the boring mentality

In 2003, researchers in the US and Europe surveyed 1,761 people who had been married more than 15 years, and confirmed what we already knew — the high in marriage wears off relatively quickly, after around two years. Passionate love becomes companionate love. If you make it through the years that come after the two years of passionate love, this early-period excitement can even make a comeback during empty nest season, when you rediscover your honeymoon attraction after the children have finally left home.

Another study showed the same thing. Over time, couples in stable marriages — those who didn’t end up divorcing — showed a very modest decline in happiness after about five or 10 years together, with their contentment rising again around the 20th-anniversary mark, a recent study published in Social Networks and the Life Course found.

 This means having a long term focus and keeping your marriage fresh and exciting will certainly help.  Giving up the boring mentality means working hard to keep the flames going – its easy to get complacent in a marriage, but it really doesn’t help make a marriage stronger.

13. Give up using the “d word” (divorce)

According to research, thoughts of divorce are quite common over the course of marriage. Many couples ebb and flow throughout their relationship but manage to hold things together.  There is, of course, everything in between these extremes. However, thinking about divorce and saying it are two very different things. Unfortunately, just like the story of the boy that cried “Wolf”, all threats eventually land on deaf ears.  Take responsibility for yourself and examine what it is you need that you are not getting.  If you are not prepared to make good on the divorce threat, then stop making them as pretty soon you will be ignored and your core message will be lost on deaf ears.

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