What is a "Good" Marriage?

It sure is easy to fall in love! The giddy excitement and rush we feel when we are with the object of our affection is so exhilarating and so powerful that we want to be with this person 24/7. And because he or she makes us feel so good, is it no wonder that the earth, moon and stars begin to revolve around this exceptional individual? If he has faults, we minimize them. If she has different life goals, we re-think ours. If our family doesn't like him, we blame their inflated expectations. What we often fail to realize during this early stage of intimacy is that we have fallen in love with being "in love", not necessarily with the actual human being, warts and all.

 Eventually, our love interest has to fall off that pedestal - truthfully, he or she never belonged up there in the first place! Inevitably, we learn that our partner isn't perfect, that he or she has some characteristics that we don't like, interests we don't share, goals with which we may not agree. This can be a devastating realization for spouses who assumed they would always feel the bliss of falling in love. This is often what is behind statements like "I love my spouse, I'm just not sure I'm in love with him/her anymore".  

So, how is it that some couples are able to successfully move beyond the initial throes of romance while others become stuck in cycles of anger and blame? How is that some couples can stay happily married to the same person through decades of transitions while others divorce, only to experience the same issues in their next intimate relationship? What is it that happily married couples do that promotes a mutually satisfying and emotionally supportive relationship?  

Healthy Couples:
·         have minimal differences in power
·         operate mainly in the present
·         show respect for their partner's individual interests and pursuits
·         have the ability to share feelings
·         use negotiation and problem solving skills 

Hallmarks of a Good Relationship:
·         Safety - both physically and emotionally (partners show respect for one another).
·         Intimacy - fun, friendship, spontaneity, spiritual connection and physical

·         Individual Responsibility - each partner is responsible for their own actions.
·         Sense of the Future - sense of the "long-term" as a couple; planning for the
        future together.