Good marriages that have maintained their integrity and staying power and did so because they were built of sturdy materials and were reinforced over the years as the challenges of life appeared.
It is in the lifetime process of building that distinguishes good marriages and the people in them.
I have found 9 tasks that contribute to an ongoing and sturdy relationship:
1. To separate emotionally from the family of one's childhood so as to invest fully in the marriage and, at the same time, to re-define the lines of connection (and identify boundaries) with both families of origin.
2. To build togetherness by creating the intimacy that supports it while carving out each partner's autonomy. These issues are central throughout the marriage but loom especially large at the outset, at the midlife and at retirement.
3. To embrace the daunting roles of parents and to absorb the impact of Her/His Majesty, The Baby and the mighty entrance. At the same time the couple must work to protect their privacy.
4. To confront and master the inevitable crisis of life, maintaining the strength of the bond in the face of adversity.
5. To create a safe haven for the protection of differences, anger, and conflict.
6. To establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship and protect it from the interruptions of the workplace and family obligations.
7. To use laughter and humor to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom by sharing fun, interests, and friends.
8. To provide nurturance, and comfort to each other, satisfying each partner's needs for dependency and offering continuing encouragement and support.
9. To keep alive the early romantic, idealized images of falling in love while facing the sober realities of the changes brought by time.
Taken from the book, The Good Marriage
Wallerstein & Blakeslee