Although more than 50% of all marriages end in divorce, many couples defy these odds and maintain lasting, healthy relationships. What makes these relationships go “right?” Psychologist Florence Kaslow offers the following:
* Healthy couples see themselves as strong individuals, but they find that being a couple makes them happier. They believe that by acting together they are stronger than they would be as separate individuals.
* They share power. Sometimes the woman takes charge, and sometimes the man, depending upon whom is more suited for the situation.
* They are not afraid to quarrel because they have the confidence that their relationship can survive occasional outbursts.
* They try to take a positive attitude toward conflicts. When interests diverge or clash, they negotiate a solution that benefits the couple, without taking the attitude that one person is giving up something for the sake of the other.
* They accept the fact that there will be some areas of disagreement, and they try to live with these differences.
* They give each other some independence and privacy, allowing each other to have outside friendships and activities without jealousy.
* They take interest in each other’s jobs and activities.
* One person does not fear that the other will change. In fact, they view personal change as good for the relationship because it keeps things interesting.
* Their personal relationship is independent of their relationships to their parents and their children. They do not allow their feelings for other family members to govern their personal relationship.
* They share all emotions, sorrow as well as happiness.
* They don’t assume that life has to be rosy all the time.
* Closesness has its limits: They do not seek to become exactly alike, avoiding the urge to become “Siamese twins joined at the heart,” in Kaslow’s words.