With divorce rates on the rise, many are beginning to wonder if there is even a remote possibility of having a successful marriage. Those in healthy marriages will tell you, “Yes, there is.”
There is no one-glove-fits-all recipe for a healthy marriage, but the most important thing to remember is that relationships take work. If you want your marriage to be a happy and successful one, you need to make an effort and keep the following things in mind:
Communication is the foundation for any healthy relationship, whether between friends or family — especially between married couples. Keeping your lines open to each other fosters a nurturing bond that can make your relationship stronger and build trust.
● Communicate your needs. Neither you nor your partner is a mind reader. If you need your spouse to do something, tell them.
● Voice out concerns. If your partner has done or said something that hurt or angered you — whether intentional or not — calmly open up to them. Negative feelings unvoiced can fester and turn to bitterness and frustration.
● Resolve arguments as soon as you can. Talk it out calmly and rationally. Again, this will keep both of you from harbouring negative feelings that can damage your relationship in the long run.
● Tell each other your hopes, desires, and dreams. Try to work your way to attaining them together.
Learn your partner’s love language.
According to marriage counsellor Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages:
- words of affirmation
- physical touch
- quality time
- receiving gifts
- acts of service
All of these are important in a relationship, but people tend to value one over the others. Each individual has their own primary love language. Learning your partner’s love language will allow you to better show your partner how much you appreciate and love them. If they value acts of service, you can tell your partner you love them by helping around the house or doing the groceries.
Likewise, learn your own love language so you can tell your partner how they can show their love for you.
Make time for self-care.
Self-care is not vanity. Learning how to care for yourself better equips you to care for your spouse.
● Keep yourself fit. Couples tend to gain weight after marriage. In the long run, this can spell trouble for both your health and your relationship. You don’t have to obsess about exercise. Just maintain a healthy weight
● Pay attention to your appearance. Just because you’ve tied the knot does not mean you should let yourself go. You both have to make an effort to keep yourself attractive to the other.
● Give yourselves me-time. Doing some things separately will allow you to better connect with yourselves for a chance at self-improvement. This way, you can contribute more to the relationship. Also, time apart can encourage romance and sustain your fondness for each other.
Keep the intimacy alive.
Touch is a basic human need and can benefit couples by:
- releasing oxytocin, a hormone that enhances their bond and trust; and
- relieving anxiety and stress.
Whether it’s through sex, hugging, or simply holding hands, married couples need to keep their physical intimacy going. Other ways to show affection include:
- Giving massages
- Stroking their hair or cheeks
Prioritize your marriage.
More often than not, couples will let the demands of work, household tasks, friends, extended family, and children get in the way of their marriage. Do not fall into this trap. Your spouse should be the priority — even before your children if you have any.
Neglecting your marriage will not help you care for your children. They need a nurturing and loving environment, and it is more important than ever for you to nurture your marriage.
Develop a financial plan.
Money is the leading cause for arguments between couples. Fighting over finances can strain relationships. Put a financial plan in place to help you manage resources so your relationship does not fall apart at the seams when rainy days come.
It’s important to note that even the healthiest and strongest marriages have its ups and downs. If you’re going through a particularly rough patch, and you feel that the strain in the relationship is taking a toll on both you and your partner, it’s perfectly all right to reach out to a marriage counsellor. The various centres for marriage counselling in St. Albert are always open for you. They will gladly help you and your spouse through the most difficult times in your marriage.