How to Master the Art of Marriage


Anyone who has been married for a long time will tell you staying connected takes a lot of hard work. Which is why we chatted with Catherine Blyth, author of “The Art of Marriage.” Here are some of the ways she says you can make your long-term partnership last.

Q: How is your book different from other books on the subject of marriage?

A: Unlike other books on marriage, I’m not peddling a single neat formula. There are no universal rules for happiness, because there is no one-size-fits-all way to live. Marriage is an art everybody can master in their own way. My book is an invitation to be creative and to see the opportunities in an incredibly bold life choice. To me, there is no such thing as, “A little bit married.” There is badly married, reasonably married and great married. This book is about seeing what you get for the price you pay and how to make the bargain work for you.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake married people make?

A: Sitting back and waiting for their marriage to work out. Many people imagine a perfect match makes a perfect marriage. They throw themselves into their romance, hurl thousands of dollars at their wedding, then slump in front of the television and expect their Mr./Mrs. Right to remain that way until their dying day. But you can’t be complacent.

A marriage isn’t something that happens to you. It is the imaginative product of your time together. So when people shrug and say their marriage didn’t work out, that they grew apart, as if this were some organic process which had nothing to do with them, it makes me very angry.

Change is inevitable. But if you seek it and steer it — cultivating fresh interests — it can add immeasurably to the joys of marriage.

Q: So what are the secrets of a lasting marriage?

A: Expecting the best of each other, but not expecting everything. Some couples remain wildly in love for decades. They’re different, but share certain characteristics. They maximize their pleasure together — especially by doing new things — and they minimize stress, editing as many negatives as possible from their shared life. Smart spouses don’t dump on each other; they find other avenues to vent. And they invest in their time together, remaining alive and alert to the other person.

Q: What’s your advice for anyone who wants to stay married?

A: Wanting to stay married — realizing it is a choice you make, day in and day out — is a great start. It means you are aware. The book is full of tips for how you can remain sensitive to the bond between you two, your wedlock and as you move forward through the obstacle course of married life. But here are my top three. First, if you have a problem, don’t always talk about it. Second, set aside at least 15 minutes a day, minimum, to be alone together without distractions. Third, life is all work, so make it playful. In particular, market chores as fun tasks. Use your imagination to make the working bits of marriage enjoyable.

A Quick Review From The Editor:

I don’t see how not talking about a problem helps a marriage or partnership. Sweeping little things aside – sure enough. But serious problems need to be resolved and problems found. I have found that by setting up a way we talk about problems helps us find solutions and we’re always at a higher level of closeness and understanding afterwards. The worst disasters we have had have stemmed from not being able to talk and negotiate a solution. I really agree that doing new things together and being playful is fun and important for building memories and just having a good time together. But serious problems don’t go away without talking and understanding each others point of view.

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