Marriage–a beautiful agreement between individuals signifying love, trust, and commitment. Throughout the journey that is marriage, the path is typically one of uncertainty and defying expectations. In this exploration of marital bliss, we peel back the layers of effective communication, the allure of idealization of one’s partner, and the transformative adventure that is parenthood.

I want you to close your eyes and imagine a world where every word shared between partners fortifies, reinforces, and enhances your bond. Research by Lavner et al. (2016) on communication and marital satisfaction demonstrates that each step, each word, and each pause, can ultimately shape the foundation of a relationship. So, is it that effective communication between partners leads to marital satisfaction, or vice versa? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as clear cut as most would prefer, but rather they’re interrelated with each other. Research shows that couples reporting higher levels of satisfaction actually had an increased likelihood of participating in more positive and effective communication (Lavner et al., 2016). This doesn’t mean that talking to your partner substantially more will increase your marital satisfaction. Rather, it is about the quality of communication, not quantity. Communication involving support, empathy, and understanding were simultaneously a cause and effect of couples’ perceived happiness within a marriage. Therefore, if you desire more satisfaction in marriage–be deliberate about your speech, ensuring it is characterized as positive communication through the use of empathy, understanding, and support of your partner. Don’t yell at them about forgetting to take out the trash; instead, be constructive and understanding in your speech, perhaps appealing to possible reasons they forgot to take it out. 

Expanding on the enhancement effects of positive communication on marital satisfaction, Weigel and Ballard-Reisch (2014) remind us that enduring relational commitment isn’t solely developed in the relationship milestones, but also in the small acts of everyday life. Whether it be a simple “Have a good day, I love you,” as your partner leaves for work, the shared connection of an inside joke, or the recollection of something important to your partner–these are the moments that truly bolster commitment. That is, the small, daily acts of love and demonstrated dedication significantly contribute to the resilience of a relationship. While these routine “I love you’s” and spontaneous acts of kindness seem insignificant compared to the grandiose gesture of when asking somebody to marry you, it’s these little recurring gestures that reinforce a foundation of support and mutual trust.

Moving on, Murray et al.’s (2011) interpreted recommendation for increasing relationship satisfaction will shock you! Instead of possessing an overtly logic-centered perception of your partner, idealizing them actually can enhance relationship satisfaction. That is, viewing your partner not only as who they are, but as what you believe they can be, often increases resilience within within the relationship, buffering against the inevitable challenges marriages endure. By encouraging individuals within a relationship to see the best in each other, this perceived support can result in the partner aspiring to that idealized perception, thereby reducing the feeling of stagnation or complacency within a relationship if both parties are striving to be better. 

In having discussed the positive effects of improved communication on marriage satisfaction, and the buffering effects of perceiving a partner as the best version of them, this post will conclude with one of the most difficult transitions married couples face–parenthood. Often depicted as a stressor on relational satisfaction, Leonhardt et al. (2021) examine this transitory period through a different lens. Although having a child introduces a myriad of new challenges and obstacles to navigate, it also presents the opportunity for growth and increased bonding with one’s significant other. If the techniques mentioned above are utilized within this period of transition, namely that of empathic and supportive communication, coupled with perceiving your partner as their maximum potential, parenthood can actually be a time of increased martial satisfaction. Through enhancement in couple’s sense of teamwork and commitment, this can add a sense of efficacy and newfound ability within an individual’s relational dynamics.


Lavner, J. A., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2016). Does couples’ communication predict marital satisfaction, or does marital satisfaction predict communication? Journal of Marriage and Family, 78(3), 680–694.

Leonhardt, N. D., Rosen, N. O., Dawson, S. J., Kim, J. J., Johnson, M. D., & Impett, E. A. (2021). Relationship satisfaction and commitment in the transition to parenthood: A couple‐centered approach. Journal of Marriage and Family, 84(1).

Murray, S. L., Griffin, D. W., Derrick, J. L., Harris, B., Aloni, M., & Leder, S. (2011). Tempting Fate or Inviting Happiness? Psychological Science, 22(5), 619–626.

Weigel, D. J., & Ballard-Reisch, D. S. (2012). Constructing commitment in intimate relationships: Mapping interdependence in the everyday expressions of commitment. Communication Research, 41(3), 311–332.

2 Replies to “Tips and Tricks for a Happy, Healthy Marriage

  1. I think the Murray et al. article was very interesting with regard to idealization and its benefits in a relationship. I agree with Madison in questioning whether there is a limit to how much we can idelize our partner and if this could cause us to overlook issues that may be important. It also reminds me of the idea of “falling in love with the idea of someone” rather than the person themself and if that is detrimental in the long run. While I believe it is good to look for the best in people, when can this harm us more than help us?

  2. Really enjoyed reading through this deep dive into marriage, communication, and the transformative journey of parenthood. It’s fascinating how the quality of communication and the act of idealizing one’s partner can significantly affect marital satisfaction. This got me thinking about the impact of external factors, like societal expectations and cultural norms, on these personal dynamics. How do they shape our approach to communication and idealization in our relationships? Also, while idealizing our partners can be beneficial, is there a risk of setting expectations too high, leading to disappointment? Would love to hear thoughts on finding that sweet spot where idealization supports the relationship without crossing into the realm of unrealistic expectations. This article opens up so many interesting avenues for further conversation!

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