[Excerpt from Contentment. Copyright © 2017 Edward K. Watson. All rights reserved. Chapter 3.]


Both husband and wife need to possess certain mandatory traits to have a successful marriage. These are codified by the following eight rules:

  1. Strive to be a better person
  2. Show love to your family
  3. Protect your family
  4. Show compassion to others
  5. Do not be cruel, abusive, or violent
  6. Work to make your spouse happy
  7. Work to make your family’s life nicer
  8. Work for your loved ones

I believe if you follow all eight rules, you’ll have an 80% chance of having a happy and lifelong marriage regardless of everything else that may happen in your life and irrespective of differences in your religion, philosophy, politics, or ideology.[1]

These traits should be developed before you get married and continued throughout your life to maximize the chance of having a marriage worth celebrating.

1. Strive to be a better person

Both husband and wife must make the effort to be better persons. Wanting to be better is not enough; they must constantly put that desire into action.

What do you want to be or accomplish that you believe will make you a better person? Do you make the world a better place by your existence? How? Do you clean things that need cleaning, fix things that need fixing, help and comfort those that need helping and comforting, and create things that need creating? Do you do good without being told just because it is the right thing to do?

Striving to be better means you must work to eliminate bad habits and replace them with good ones. Some very destructive habits within a marriage are (in no particular order):

  • Not Credible (deceitful – frequently lies and exaggerates, untrustworthy, secretive, gossip, two-faced/backbiter, unreliable, disloyal, irresponsible, phony – fakes interest or expertise, always late, inconsistent, impulsive spender/shopaholic, indecisive)
  • Lacks Empathy (cruel, violent, manipulative/plays mind games, controlling, vindictive, finds fault, tries to change others, makes fun of others, holds a grudge, does not forgive, does not feel guilt or remorse, selfish, does not care for the safety of others, treats people as pawns, arrogant and boastful, forces one’s view on others, inflicts fear and pain on others, destroys property, does not focus on companion – such as texting while with someone, stonewalls/performs silent treatments, takes loved ones for granted, takes pleasure in the suffering of others)
  • Lacks Dignity (obsessed about oneself/conceited/ narcissistic, obsessed about others, makes a scene, a drama queen, pouts/complains/whines, ostentatious/pretentious, braggart, does not stop fighting nor walk away from conflicts, always arguing, explosive temper, loses control, insecure, gullible and only listens to one viewpoint, shallow, too needy, screeches or screams, refuses to admit being wrong, gets drunk in public, envious, immature, too loud, constantly talking, undisciplined, messy, hypercompetitive)
  • Doesn’t Trust the Other (jealous, spies, cross-checks/does not believe another’s word, keeps score, asks trick or no-win questions, asks questions but disregards the answers)

Most decent people will not marry or remain married to partners with the above traits. Would you enjoy being married to someone who has these bad habits? If your spouse had just a handful or even one of them, wouldn’t you want them to work on eliminating them from their character? Which of these traits would you be happy with in a spouse? Probably none, right? There may be some that are minor and can be tolerated, but the majority should scare any decent person away.

This is where maturity comes into play. Good husbands or wives do not want to marry immature boys and girls; they want good and mature partners and the only way for you to be a good partner is to eliminate the bad traits that prevent you from becoming the ideal partner in your spouse’s eyes.

So, if you wish to have a happy and enduring marriage, strive to be a better person.

2. Show love to your family

A husband needs to feel loved by his wife. A wife needs to feel loved by her husband. Children need to feel loved by their parents.

Love binds us to one another. Don’t just assume your partner knows you love them, say it. Tell them you love them, repeatedly, every day. Kiss one another, repeatedly, every day, on the lips, cheek, and neck. Squeeze and slap their ass; squeeze and rub their genitals; nuzzle their necks and run your fingers through their hair. Massage their neck and feet. “Make love” on occasion instead of just “fuck.”[2]

Show love towards each other.

3. Protect your family

Do you protect your family from dangers and harm? Do you go out of your way to stop your spouse or child from harming themselves or getting harmed by others? Do you try to soften the blow of bad news and provide comfort afterwards?

Take time off from work to accompany your partner or child to a doctor’s appointment if they cannot go by themselves. Take the time to care for them when they’re ill or recovering from a medical procedure. Try to stop your spouse from hanging out with the wrong crowd or from spending time with those who make them do dumb things or make them miserable and upset.

Never run away from helping your family or refuse to sacrifice for their welfare.

4. Show compassion to others

It is a guarantee that both of you at some point throughout your lives will experience pain physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially, morally, and environmentally.

Like it or not, there will be times when your spouse is going to experience pain, grief, depression, terror, frustration, despair, guilt, doubt, stress, nervousness, envy, jealousy, pessimism, regret, anger, irritation, negativity, hopelessness, shame, or timidity.

Because of this fact of life of being human, we’ve all developed the ability to be sensitive to the suffering of others. Most of us can empathize with others, by putting ourselves in their place and imagine the hurt and pain is happening to us.

When the negatives of life happen: Be there for each other. Comfort one another. Support each other.

It could be something as simple as holding one another and crying in each other’s arms. It could be by becoming a cheerleader, advisor, confidant, or sounding board. It could be by being a coach, tutor, or editor. It could be by making the other a favorite meal or dessert, bringing them out for dinner or drinks, giving them a massage, nice bath, or giving them a special sexual treat.

Being there for the other through thick and thin solidifies your bond. It is one of the first requirements to becoming each other’s soul mate and partner throughout life. Having a spouse who knows he or she can trust you and rely on you to help them during the negatives of life makes the marriage worthwhile.

5. Do not be cruel, abusive, or violent

Having a spouse who is cruel, abusive, or violent to you or to your children makes a marriage hell and inflicts the worst trauma imaginable. It is the vilest possible thing one can do to those he or she supposedly loves more than anyone else in the world. It inflicts lifelong harm and requires immense effort to counteract to prevent the victims from suffering lasting damage and from continuing the harm to the next generation.

We react with disgust when someone harms an innocent person; how much worse should our reaction be if the victim was the person’s own spouse or child?

Nothing justifies being cruel, abusive, or violent towards a spouse or child. Not pride, not honor, not obedience, not culture, not religion, not tradition.

If you’re going into marriage, make sure you do not bring that evil into your home, regardless of how tempting it may be when you’re still in the Molding stage, and regardless of what your religion, culture, or tradition says. If it’s already occurred in your marriage, get help immediately! It is illegal and nearly every community has resources that can help victims of abuse.

No one should stay married to such a person. Anyone who deliberately inflicts pain or fear on others, especially the young and vulnerable, has no business being with someone or having children who cannot defend themselves. They deserve to be imprisoned, shunned, and condemned.

6. Work to make your spouse happy

Your spouse needs to believe his or her life is better being married to you than what it was before.

If you are the type of person who wants to make your spouse happy, they will easily be able to convince themselves that they’re happier being married to you than staying single or than by being with someone else.

This means your spouse must see you possessing the habits and traits that make him or her happy with you and for being married to you. You make their life better than what they left behind.

As a result, if you want to make your spouse happy, he or she must see you have the following characteristics (in no particular order):

  • Affectionate
  • Playful
  • Loving
  • Witty
  • Flirty
  • Sensuous
  • Supportive
  • Caring
  • Listen to spouse
  • Spontaneous
  • Enjoy life and relaxed
  • Allow spouse to relax
  • Not fake
  • Funny
  • Being silly
  • Good cook and baker
  • Pay attention to his/her interest
  • Not helpless (can do things without spouse’s help)
  • Semi-independent
  • Strong
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Appreciative
  • Confident
  • Unmaterialistic
  • Make spouse feel good about themselves
  • Encourage spouse to pursue their goals and dreams
  • Enthusiastically celebrate spouse’s victories
  • Smart

Having a spouse with the above traits makes a marriage enjoyable. Just cuddling on the couch together after work with you running your fingers through your spouse’s hair or massaging their nape does wonders.

7. Work to make your family’s life nicer

What kind of home will your spouse have with you? Is it one where they look forward going to after a hard day’s work? Will they prefer going home to you as opposed to going somewhere else with someone else? Can they unwind and enjoy being with you or must they constantly work to make you happy? Is it a house of love and laughter or one of bickering, fights, and conflict? Is it a house of compromise and service or is it one where members only think of their happiness? Do family members rejoice in each other’s success or is success measured by comparison to the failure of others?

By striving to make your family’s life nicer, you’re telling your partner that you value and cherish them and the family that you’ve formed together. You serve one another and strive to make the other happy and lessen one another’s burdens.

8. Work for your loved ones

People work to provide for their loved ones. Parents go to work to provide shelter, food, and all the needs of their children. Husbands work to support their wives and the home they share and wives work to do likewise.

As a matter of self-respect, one cannot have a good marriage, if neither the husband nor wife puts in the effort to provide for their needs when they have the ability and opportunity to do so.

What this means is if it is necessary and possible, you should be working to help pay the bills for your family. Even if you decided your marriage will have the wife stay at home while the husband works; if the burden becomes too great for him to support the whole family, the wife should work to help relieve the pressure on her husband.

Just think, what will happen if your spouse gets unemployed or incapacitated, when they can’t provide for the family? What will happen to him/her and to the children? They should be able to depend on you to stick around and work to pay the bills.

Develop These Traits Before Marriage and Strengthen Them During Marriage

Having these eight traits means you’re a good person and make a good husband or wife. You’re 80% of the way to having a successful marriage that lasts a lifetime.


[1] These eight rules were initially discussed in Bliss (Volume 2 of the Orgasmic Series) as signs that women need to require in men when considering them for marriage potential. They are repeated here with slight modifications because they are so important to both husband and wife.

[2] See Orgasmic (Volume 1 of the Orgasmic Series).

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Nonfiction writer - religious studies, project documentation, human relations, self-help, social commentary, and forecasting