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Romance in Marriage

The 7 Secrets of Happily Ever After

Smart Talk


By the things you say to your mate, and how you say them, you can either sink your relationship, or make it sizzle. Strictly following the advice below will help you avoid tearing down the romance you are trying to build.

Never manipulate

When you feel strongly that your mate is doing something different from what is appropriate, you naturally want to do or say something that will correct the behavior. Your first inclination may be to use pressure—through force of logic, holding love hostage, trying to make your mate’s point of view appear foolish, or using innuendo or sarcasm—to try to change your mate’s thinking or behavior. All of these techniques pit you against your mate as opponents. They are manipulative. They are harmful to the trust and good will upon which your relationship must be built. They will cause your mate, on some level, to fight and rebel against you. Your romance will be better served if you communicate in ways that are more positive and productive.

Don’t criticize

Criticism kills romance. If you must speak with your spouse regarding your relationship needs, your expressions should be predominantly positive, and any negative or needy expressions should be strictly about yourself. Rather than saying “You are not meeting my need for…” it is more helpful to say “Right now, I am feeling a need for…” This comes across as less blaming and less demanding. It leaves your spouse freer to meet your need out of love or desire for you (internal motivation), rather than out of pressure or obligation (external motivation).

Never throw a dart at your mate

Cutting words are like darts. You may just be playing, but the pain and the damage are real. Never insult your spouse, even in a teasing manner; never cut him or her down, even in fun; never joke negatively about him or her, even if you think your spouse likes it. When you are both with your friends and you make some negative comment about your spouse in a joking manner, he or she may laugh along with everyone else, but damage will have been done. Cinderella would never have said such a thing to her prince, or vice versa, and neither should you if you want a fairytale romance. A person’s feelings of worth can be fragile and will largely be determined by their subconscious perception of how you feel about them. The subconscious mind does not understand humor or sarcasm. Whether in fun or not, a cutting or sarcastic comment from you will be interpreted as an insult, and will hurt your relationship. Your spouse’s perception of their own worth and the worth of the relationship will suffer, and their ability to trust you and feel secure in the relationship will suffer. As a result, your spouse’s desire and ability to give himself or herself to you and sacrifice for you will suffer.

Sarcasm makes true heart-to-heart communication impossible. If you are accustomed to using sarcasm, you may think that conversation would be boring without it. Not so. Removing sarcasm from your communication is like removing weeds from a garden. It allows other, better, things to grow, but only if you plant them. Replace sarcasm with optimism, compliments, and expressions of love. This will allow your romance to flourish and blossom.

Sarcasm is the protest of people who are weak.—John Knowles

Censor yourself

Some ideas and feelings need to be communicated only at the appropriate time and place. Some are best not communicated at all. Before you say something that might be disturbing to your spouse, first ask yourself if saying it will really be helpful to the relationship. If not, then don’t. If so, ask yourself if there is a better time or place. Be careful not only what you say, but the tone of voice you use. Make sure you say it in the best and kindest way. According to the Gottman institute,1 “In a happy marriage, couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship (‘We laugh a lot’) as opposed negative ones (‘We never have fun’)” and “Couples who avoid saying every angry thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.”

1“Gottman’s top relationship tips” at Gottman Institute (

Converse instead of argue

Fighting between husband and wife is simply a failure to communicate. When you have a disagreement with your mate, the following communication techniques will win, over arguing, every time:

  • Ask your mate’s opinion, listening attentively and respectfully without interrupting. Everyone wants to be heard out.
  • As you listen, try to understand how your mate is feeling and reasoning. It is probable that you are both part right, part wrong, and there is something you can learn by listening. Try to see your ideas, and those of your mate that differ, in a larger context. Step back and try to look at the differing ideas as objectively as you can. There may be a third position (that neither of you have expressed nor thought of) that can satisfy both of you. Also, ask yourself if there is some emotional need your mate has that is not being met, and therefore contributing to the problem.
  • Try to accurately, fairly, and kindly repeat some points of your mate’s side to show that you understand, or at least want to understand, what is being said. Everyone wants to be understood.
  • Verbally empathize with your mate’s feelings and ideas. Be honest and kind. Such phrases as “I know this is very important to you” can help. Everyone wants to be taken seriously, and to have their ideas and feelings valued. Your aim is to create good will between the two of you, so that you can eventually come together, rather than pushing apart. Be quick to apologize and take responsibility for your mistakes, large and small, intentional or not.
  • Ask your mate if you can share your own feelings on the subject, and then do it calmly and kindly. Don’t attack your mate’s ideas, try to make them seem foolish, or even necessarily say that they are wrong or that you disagree with them. Your aim is to try to explain your views without causing your mate to become defensive. A person who feels defensive will not be open to reason.
  • Don’t exaggerate, speak harshly, or use inflammatory words or phrases. Try to be fair, respectful, and humble. Your mate will then find it easier to give your ideas fair consideration.
  • Be patient. Give it time. Over the next few hours, days, or months, your mate may think back on the discussion that the two of you have had. If your ideas have been reasonable and kindly presented, your mate may even come closer to your way of thinking. Sometimes it takes time and calm reflection to understand and accept new ideas.
  • Overcome any pride or insecurities in yourself that may be making you afraid to come to an agreement with your mate. Feelings of independence and superiority may be hard to overcome. True romance, however, requires unity of mind as well as of heart, and will provide rich rewards to those who are able to overcome whatever hinders that unity.
  • If either of you becomes angry or upset, postpone the discussion until you have both calmed down.

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