Building Better Relationships

By Rob Furlong

Check list for a happy marriage

check list

So I Married an Axe Murderer is a comic film from the '90s that underlines the pitfalls that can beset a couple who have fallen in love.

Charlie, the main character, has a problem with commitment but when he meets Hilary (a butcher), he is swept off his feet and so he proposes to her.

But as they plan their marriage, Charlie becomes increasingly suspicious of Hilary, discovering that she has been married three times before and that each of her husbands died mysteriously on their honeymoon!

Charlie's paranoia becomes rampant and he increasingly asks himself, "Can I trust this girl? Am I marrying an angel...or an axe murderer?"

February is the month when love is celebrated and according to one survey, Valentine's Day is the second most popular date for marriage proposals, after Christmas Day!

But how do you know that the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with is the right one?

You may not be faced with Charlie's dilemma in the previously mentioned film, but what characteristics should you look for in a successful relationship?

Dr Neil Clarke-Warren, a US Psychologist states that there are ten characteristics in a healthy relationship that can predict both a positive and successful future for marriage:

You are each other's best friend. You both truly enjoy each other's company and in successful marriages, friendship is seen as the most important ingredient of all.

You both communicate naturally and freely. There is a feeling of safety when sharing because you do not judge or put each other down.

You have shared spiritual values. And you are both deeply committed to them!

You both regard marriage as a lifetime commitment. Successful couples are devoted to a permanent relationship.

You are able to work out conflict and disagreements positively. You do not allow issues to continue to simmer or be swept under the carpet.

You laugh together. You both share a good sense of humour and can see the funny side of life!

You feel genuinely cared for by your partner. You truly know each other and you love each other, warts and all!

Your family and friends are genuinely supportive of your relationship. The people in your life who know you best are confident about the relationship and are accepting and caring of both of you.

There is a "spark" of romance between both of you much of the time. But above all that, you are both comfortable and content with each other most of the time.

Your relationship feels sane, safe and stable. In other words, you have a sense that you both fit together well at many levels and there is a strong feeling of trust, intimacy and safety between the two of you.

Dr Clarke-Warren is clear that no "list" can ever guarantee the success of any marriage but concerning the above principles he does point out that:

"If all of these are present in the dating relationship then the chances for a happy, healthy marriage are great."

A very wise person once said, "Marriage is not so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person."

It's a sound piece of advice.

Should we be concerned about the characteristics of the person we are thinking of marrying?

Of course!

But it is also worth reflecting on the kind of person I am as well.

What sort of person am I becoming? What sort of person do I want to be?

These are good questions to ask ourselves because they challenge us to grow into more mature and caring people who are able to contribute to long lasting and successful relationships.

Incidentally, things turn out well for Charlie and Hilary, but if you want to know how, then you will need to see the movie!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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