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5 Important Features of Modern Happy Marriages

1. Deep friendship, which requires sharing deeply as well.

Key points

  • Modern marriage has evolved from a pragmatic arrangement to a romantic partnership.
  • Young adults today are more likely to prioritize personal goals before walking down the aisle.
  • Happy marriages consist of friendship, communication, respect, trust, and a growth mindset.
  • Singles and couples can use this information to design their ideal love life.
Leonardo Miranda / Unsplash
Leonardo Miranda / Unsplash

Watching old Disney movies as an adult makes me cringe. Sure, there are sweet moments, funny scenes, and heartwarming songs, but the messaging within the storylines is outdated and, in some cases, offensive.

Since those fairy tales from our childhoods, the script of marriage has undergone a dramatic rewrite. Gone are the days of Cinderella waiting for Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. In today's world, couples are blending traditional values with progressive, egalitarian views.

Let's take a walk down the aisle of modern marriage, exploring how expectations have changed over time and what the happiest, healthiest marriages are made of.

How Marriage Has Evolved

Historically, marriage was a pragmatic union driven by economic stability and social status. However, as society evolved, so did the expectations surrounding marriage. According to Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, marriage has transitioned from an institution focused on duty and obligation to one centered on love and companionship.

But behind the glittering façade of Instagram-worthy nuptials lies a more nuanced reality. Today's couples have heightened expectations across all areas of their lives, from career aspirations to personal fulfillment to marital standards. Bella DePaulo, a psychologist, author, and fellow PT contributor, notes that the average young adult nowadays is actually delaying marriage until their late 20s or early 30s, prioritizing individual goals before saying “I do.”

Choosing the Right Partner

In the quest for the perfect spouse, modern singles are dating differently, too. It's not just about finding a breadwinner or a homemaker; it's about finding a best friend, an intellectual equal, a trustworthy confidante, and a passionate lover.

Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, emphasizes the importance of shared values, interests, and goals in marital satisfaction. Marriage has transitioned from a “need-to-have” to a “nice-to-have,” with romantic chemistry and lifestyle compatibility being non-negotiable qualities of the relationship.

So, what exactly do young people want? It's not just about finding someone who checks all the boxes; it's about finding someone who makes them laugh, supports their dreams, and is willing to embark on life's roller coaster ride with them. As relationship expert John Gottman suggests, successful marriages are built on a foundation of trust, respect, and humor.

In fact, humor is considered one of the most attractive traits in the dating scene. Cue dad joke. I mean, don't really. Unless you're a dad, then totally go for it.

Ingredients of Happy Marriages

According to decades of research, the five most important features of a happy marriage are:

  1. Deep friendship: Getting to know each other’s inner workings, feeling safe enough to be vulnerable, and supporting each other’s dreams strengthens connection and resilience in couples.
  2. Effective communication: Constructive communication patterns, such as active listening and expressing emotions openly, foster intimacy and help resolve conflicts.
  3. Mutual respect: Couples who admire and respect each other’s qualities and allow room for one another to grow as individuals have higher levels of relationship satisfaction and lower rates of divorce.
  4. Trust and integrity: Trust, built through consistent honesty and reliability in big and little ways, nurtures emotional security and marital satisfaction.
  5. Growth mindset: The secret to sustaining marital relationships lies in the ability to keep showing up for each other and keep growing together in a committed and dedicated way.
Pablo Heimplatz / Unsplash
Source: Pablo Heimplatz / Unsplash

Takeaway Message

If you’re single, this list could help guide how you date and who you decide to settle down with. If you’re dating or married, this list can help you reflect on what’s going well and where you could afford to put in some work.

The strongest marriages don’t happen overnight; they are built one day, one conversation, one hug at a time. As psychotherapist Esther Perel says, the quality of our intimate relationships determines the quality of our lives. Are you taking care of yours?

Facebook image: Ground Picture/Shutterstock


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