Tips for Ensuring Your Marriage is as Amazing as Your Wedding

Suzanne Pratt is a Certified Gottman Method Couples’ Therapist and owner of
Suzanne Pratt You’ve tied the knot. That wonderful wedding will exist in your memories forever. But having a fabulous wedding—as hard as that was—was the easy part. How do you make the marriage amazing also? What behaviors are important to focus on? Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute and The Gottman Relationship Center have studied the “Masters and Disasters” of marriage for over 40 years. My tips have been developed from their research.
Edit Yourself
Don’t let negative commentary slip into your communication. Even if your partner doesn’t seem to mind your sarcasm or put-downs, realize that criticism corrodes relationship bonds like acid. For every negative statement you make, it takes at least five positive ones just to regain neutral footing with your partner.

Practice "Soft Start-Up"
When you need to bring something up with your partner, use this formula: “I notice…I feel…Would you please…” Don’t start a conversation by saying, “You always…” or “You never….” You’ll lose your audience.

Have High Expectations
Create a relationship vision together. List components of your ideal partnership, for example: We handle conflict productively. We are affectionate often. Search for desires you share. Post these and focus on them together often.

Seek Help Early
Research shows that people in good marriages have fewer health problems, shorter recovery periods after illness and longer life spans. Give your marriage the same attention you give your body. Don’t wait until problems are so entrenched that treatment is complicated.

Avoid Defensiveness
Once you’re married, there may be a time when your partner pushes your buttons. You may be annoyed to hear, “You didn’t pick up the laundry as you promised, and now I don’t have a clean shirt to wear.” You may be inclined to fire back, 
“I cleaned the whole house and ran errands—you don’t appreciate me!” Let me help you here: You can choose to get defensive and escalate the conversation into a destructive argument or, just as dangerously, you can sulk and let the argument go underground. Or you can do this: Hear your partner. Early in your marriage, get into the habit of saying, 
“I know, I hear you,” “I’m sorry” or “I haven’t been as attentive as I could, have I?” Taking responsibility, just for your part, eradicates one of the four most prevalent predictors of divorce: defensiveness. Thinking of your marriage as a valuable possession that requires care is the first step toward a long life together. Your marriage is a home for your souls when you maintain it. For more about the Gottman Method, visit

–This article originally appeared in Utah Bride and Groom Magazine (

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