For my new book, Connect to Love, the Keys to Transforming Your Relationship, I studied over 500 women throughout the world, discussing with them their deep emotions and genuine perspectives on relationships. As with my previous research with men, there were many surprises. However, I know have a better understanding of the significant areas that couples can focus on to make their relationship better in a short period of time. My research showed that more women cheated than people think. This is probably because 62% of the cheating women said they didn’t tell the truth to their husbands. But equally astounding was that 51% of faithful women admitted that they were seriously considering divorce. Only 30% of women said they were happily married.
Understanding that this research was not conducted with a frum or exclusively Jewish group, we can still learn a great deal from the honest stories and assessments of women from all walks of life. I am always interested in using my research to find the clearest path to marital satisfaction. Everyone has good advice but I wanted to be able to prove to the best of my ability, the few things that would make the greatest change so that you’d spend your time and energy wisely. Here are some of those crucial issues:
Time: The majority of satisfied women reported spending a daily average of over 30 minutes of uninterrupted time talking to their husbands (22% said they spent over 60 minutes a day) whereas the majority of unhappy women spent less than 30 minutes (23% of them said they spent less than 5 minutes a day). This makes sense; we can talk until we’re blue in the face about better communication skills and understanding but let’s face it, if there’s no time to consistently connect, all of the rest doesn’t matter.
If there is one thing you can do to make your marriage better, create this 30-minute period – on a daily basis – to chat and relax with your spouse. Shut off the phone, Blackberry and computer (I once had a wife tell me, “My husband is cheating with fruits: his Apple and Blackberry). Finding this time is complicated for most couples. Childcare and work can leave us completely exhausted. You might feel like you can’t do another thing yet alone create a 30-minute period to talk and relax with your spouse. But it’s worth it. Consider that to be successful in any area of your life, you put a great deal of time and energy into it. Your marriage is no different.
Successful couples will tell you their secret is continued focus on their love and working at finding time and energy for their marriage. Those who think that love is all you need to be happily married are in for a sad surprise. Love is the starting point, but true love finds consistent energy to keep that love vibrant.
Appreciation: The number two answer of what emotional issues make a huge difference in their happiness is being appreciated. Whenever I ask a couple to write what they appreciate about their spouse, the list is always very short. Maybe they can crank out two or three items – but the most obvious ones are usually missing. When I ask why being a great parent, worker, etc., isn’t on the list I always get the same reply, “Well, he/she is supposed to do that.” Somehow we have developed an attitude that appreciation is only for those things we don’t expect to have done. Yet, we yearn to be loved and seen as valuable people. We deserve appreciation for any effort, even for things we would do not matter. When we are appreciated, we feel valued. It’s powerful and luckily, often so easy and quick to offer. Write a list of things you appreciate about your spouse and give it to him/her. Tell and show your spouse how appreciative you are and it’ll likely come back to you immediately.
There were other crucial issues that I look forward to sharing in future columns. In addition, in my book, Connect to Love, I detail a 2-week program that will make your relationship better.
In the end, all of us want to really feel connected. When we marry, we want to know there is that one person who wants to know the real us, the deeper person. We want our spouse to see the best in us, inspire us and want to love us more and more. I hope you have the chance to review my work and please let me know your thoughts. Together we can learn a great deal about connecting to love.