When it comes to marriage, a mentor of mine said, there are no rules. As long as there are Two Consenting Adults, the possible types of marriage are infinite. You can have bi-cultural marriages, bi-racial, bi-coastal, marriages blending different religions, arranged marriages, open marriages, May-December couples, straight, gay and transgender. Traditional or not, all that matters is that the two adults involved agree on what defines their particular coupling.

Two. Consenting. Adults.

After that what are the elements of a good marriage? Everyone wants to know that, right? What my mentor said was a bit surprising. He said that after doing a meta-analysis of studies on happily married couples, researchers boiled down the corner stones of a good marriage to four:

      • Trust
      • Respect
      • Accountability
      • Intimacy

Think of those four qualities as the legs of a table top representing the marriage. If any of the legs are shorter or weaker than the others, you don’t have a functional table any more.

Notice that none of these elements can be done alone. Each one needs at least two people to exist.

Also notice how Love is not one of the legs.

To be honest, I’ve never gone into the literature to see if this meta-study my mentor talked about actually exists. Maybe someday I’ll do that but for now what I do know is that for the over 25 years of my own marriage and the over 20 years as a couples counselor, this formula has never failed.

Photo courtesy of Jonas’ Design