What is important in a successful marriage?

A person of my acquaintance told me she was thinking of getting a divorce because she and her husband don’t have (and never had) ‘chemistry.’

I replied that I don’t think ‘chemistry’ is even on my top 10 list of things that are important in a marriage. So she asked me what things are on that list.

Hmmmm… don’t know but chemistry isn’t there.

Some things that might make my list are:

  • common goals
  • similar expectations of what the relationship should be
  • long term committment
  • good communication
  • have fun together

Depends on what “chemistry” is, I suppose.

I think similar personalities is a big factor; you don’t want to spend your life with someone who you clash with all the time, for instance. The saying “opposites attract” fails to point out how short-lived that attraction usually is.

All IMO, of course.

Well, my wife and I’ve got 27 years in and have enjoyed each other’s company and cared about how each other felt for virtually that whole period.

But I’ll let you know when I’ve got some real evidence on the subject. :slight_smile:

Maybe I define ‘chemistry’ a little differently than other people, but without it (that desire to be physically and emotionally close to someone and, yes, to have sex with that person) I could be friends with a person. I could be that person’s roommate.

I couldn not be that person’s wife, because too much of the intimacy would be completely missing.

Add the finances together, share the household chores, take turns cooking dinner, pay the bills, do joint tax returns, but never have the backrubs, the curling up on the couch, the tandem showers, and then go to sleep in separate rooms all the time? Sounds more like a business partnership than being married.

To me, ‘chemistry’ is all that stuff that separates a romantic involvement from a logical partnership - and I couldn’t marry someone (or stay married) if that chemistry weren’t there.


I agree with catsix.

Certainly chemistry isn’t the ONLY thing that’s important. My list would include:

  • chemistry
  • respect for each other’s ideas
  • shared sense of humour
  • similar goals
  • open lines of communication
  • shared AND separate hobbies/interests, which leads onto…
  • the ability to enjoy time together AND apart.

But I’ve only been married for seven years, so what would I know!

oh, and I forgot to add trust.

I’ve been married 37 years, and I agree with other posters. One additional item is commitment – that is, setting out to make the marriage work.

Now mind you, I’ve never even had so much as a long-term boyfriend, but I copied this out of a book in case I ever actually latch on to someone worth latching on to:

“Still,” he said, “there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values, Mitch?”


“Your belief in the importance of your marriage.”

~Morrie Schwartz from Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

For what it is worth, in defense of the idea of chemistry, what else is “good communication” and “having fun together” other than “chemistry”? If we make it thru another month it will be 39 years for me and my sexy flight attendant. :slight_smile:

I’ve never understood this chemistry thing except that it is almost always women who claim it is neccessary for a good relationship.

My wife and I go back 24 years now, and it hasn’t always been perfect, but I’ve worked hard at understanding and providing for the needs of my wife, in all ways.

Breaking up has never been an option for either of us. Thus, in order to achieve happiness, we must work at it. And by the way, if good sex is a requirement, let me add it gets even better with age.

First, if I may provide a link to my [url"http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=109508&highlight=relationship"]rules. These are the things I think are really important in almost any relationship.

As far as qualities go, I think the most important thing is a sense of partnership. Both people need to approach the world with a sense of “us”, not “me”. If one persons get a great job offer in another city, the possibility that one could go permanently and one could stay behind permanently mustn’t even occur to either person.

Another important quality would be faith in each other. You need to take it on faith that they didn’t mean for that comment to sound like a mortal insult of your mother, or that they really meant to remember the bread, or that they really do mean it when they say you are as beautiful as you were twenty years ago. You need to take it on faith that the gift of someone’s time, work, or material goods really does come with no strings attached. A marrige can’t work if people go around constantly second-guessing each other’s motives.

I may post more later: i have to go to work. But these are the first two that occur to me.

Better link:




A joint bank account. (seriously - I’ve seen couples bickering over which of them is going to pay for their romantic candlelit dinner for two)


Oh and Love is probably useful too, pretend I said ‘Love’ first.

What do you lot think about pre-nuptial agreements? (for ordinary mortals, not multi-millionaires) - seems to me that it’s adopting a kind of ‘I’m not even gonna try to make this work’ attitude…

Love is the most important thing to have in a marriage. I Met Mrs.Phlosphr while I was waiting tables right after Graduate school. We had both been there done that with breaking up and being hurt. We had been the breakers and the breakee’s we were at the point in our lives that we were ready to find the one to spend the rest of our lives with… Here are some things we have discovered that have cemented our relationship over the years…

Trusting yourself before you trust your mate! Allows one to not lie to oneself.

Love yourself and who YOU are before you completely love your mate.

Love the little inconsistencies of your spouse for being part of who they are…

Lust after your spouse at least two to three times a month

*this last one excludes just simply making love…we’re talking lust after your mate…

respect their person…if they want to have a girls/guys night embrace the fact that they’ll be home later to love you.

Honesty, honesty, honesty, honesty, honesty.

Never Ever ever ever go to bed mad at one another.

Listen to their heart …

Chemistry is the mixing of all of these to form an attraction that binds a couple together for ever…

I wish somebody had told me all of this ten years ago; on honeymoon, we accidentally knocked over the bunsen burner and set fire to the text book.

Its never too late to re-kindle…

*with the wife/husband that is, not the ex…

Respect, respect, respect.

I’ve seen too many people who seem to relish being sarcastic to and cynical about their spouses. They actually relish their spouses’ mistakes and shortcoming because they see these things as rich ammunition for future arguments or as fodder for “hilarious” stories about their spouses at parties.

That is not respect.

Agreeed. A prenup is essentially saying, “I don’t really trust you, so I want to delinate what’s mine and what’s yours now, if and when my paranoia is proven to be correct.” :rolleyes:

A few weeks after I got married, I met an old married couple, both of whom happened to be psychiatrists.

“You want to know the secret to a good marriage?” the husband said. “Overlook, overlook, overlook.”

He said it with a smile, and I think about this advice all the time. It’s along the lines of Manda Jo’s “faith” comments.

Overlook the little faults, and forgive your spouse often (and, by the way, forgiving DOES mean forgetting; don’t dwell on forgiven faults, and don’t ever bring them up as a threat).

And, yes, you have to be committed to being married. It’s a full-time job, and not something you can readily picture 'til you’re in the thick of it. If you can imagine a time in the future when you’d be going about your life without the other person (their death excepted), you’re on the wrong track.