Couples who evaluate the health of their relationship regularly tend to thrive better than other couples who do not engage in this practice. Relationship discord or dissatisfaction does not happen on its own. There are specific things that occur throughout the relationship that lead to increased dissatisfaction over time. Generally, couples don’t have specific conversations about how things are going in the relationship. They overlook the need to discuss any important issues which could be a potential source of conflict later on. If they do, it tends to be later on when things are starting to be at their worst. And unfortunately, by then it may be too late to wipe out such sources of conflicts.
So what are some things that need to be done to keep satisfaction levels high and to maintain a happy and healthy marriage? Below are some tips for a healthy marriage-
1. Have meaningful conversations
It’s great to have conversations about the day to day events in your partner’s life, however, it’s good to get in the habit of having meaningful conversations about the relationship itself and how your partner feels about how things are going.
2. Confront issues early on
One of the keys to a healthy relationship is to express your concerns and your disappointments with your partner in a timely manner. Don’t allow unresolved conflicts to fester without appropriately expressing the way you feel. By expressing your feelings in a loving, honest and direct way, you allow you and your partner the opportunity to work together towards reconciliation.
3. Validate each other
Be sure to acknowledge your partner’s strengths and positive attributes. Be careful not to get too caught up in your everyday routine and responsibilities. Take a step back, take some time, and recognize your partner for their contributions to the relationship. Remind them why you love them, how special they are to you and what you value most about them. No one likes to feel unappreciated or unrecognized for their hard work.
4. Spend quality time together
Having a family can consume a lot of energy and time which makes it difficult to find balance in all your roles and responsibilities. A healthy marriage is where you make a good effort to reserve some of your energy for your partner. Make a good effort to reserve some of your energy for your partner. Your partner needs to feel and know that they matter to you and that they are still a priority for you. Let them know in your own special way that you enjoy being with them. Quality time deepens your intimacy, enhances communication and strengthens your bond.
5. Have fun
Life can be challenging, demanding, busy and I could keep going on and on about the difficulties it brings us sometimes. Despite this, or better yet in spite of this, it’s important to create the time and space in your relationship to have fun. Laughter is good for the soul and it’s free! Did I mention free? It doesn’t have to take much to achieve this. You can plan fun activities you both enjoy doing or just be spontaneous and create new adventures. Whatever you decide to, keep it simple and fun.
6. Show unconditional positive regard
This involves demonstrating complete acceptance and support of your partner no matter what they say or do. When you married your spouse, you vowed to love each other in sickness and health, in good and bad times. Show unconditional positive regard for your partner so they know that your love for them is not dependent on circumstances. This allows your partner to feel safe to share anything with you, even if they know you will not like it. Acceptance does not mean that you endorse or condone a behavior. You can dislike a person’s behavior but sill have unconditional positive regard for them. Only then can you experience the freedom of just being you as well as reaching deeper levels of intimacy in your marriage.
7. Talk about sex
Don’t just have sex but have conversations about it. Talk about patterns, likes, dislikes, desires, fantasies, etc. Couples who have discussions about intimate topics are more likely to be healthier, happier and last longer. It’s easy to fall into sexual patterns in a relationship so having conversations about it allows you to evaluate those patterns to determine if there is a need or desire for change. It may seem a bit ridiculous but planning for sex ensures that you make it a priority in your relationship which will make you more likely to make time for it. You may need to talk about how to fit sex into your busy schedules. While planning is important flexibility is also needed. Be flexible, seek out opportunities to keep the intimate part of your relationship exciting.
The health of your marriage depends on you and your partner. It depends on your level of commitment, the effort and the time you put into it. This isn’t to say that other factors have no influence on the marriage’s health, but if you have the right foundation you can overcome the challenges. What may seem trivial today can develop into a bigger issue later on. In order to have a healthy marriage, both the couples have to work hard on eliminating such conflicts and promoting a strong bond of love and trust between them.
Many girls dream of fairy-tale weddings and wedded bliss with the man of their dreams, but many are disappointed when they find out the truth about marriage. We don’t want to put anyone off getting married; being in a happy marriage is wonderful, but there are a few home truths that you should know before you tie the knot. What many people don’t realise is that marriage takes hard work to make it a success, it doesn’t just happen. If you are thinking about getting engaged, read these ten things to know before getting married, before you make that commitment.
1. Marriage will not make you whole
Marriage really shouldn’t be your only ambition in life. If you are under the impression that marriage will fulfil you and make you whole, then you will be in for a surprise. A marriage is a partnership of two equals and your individuality is important too. Discover for yourself who you are and what you are, before you get married, because marriage won’t do that for you.
2. You will need to compromise on some of your dreams
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have got some of wilder dreams out of the way before you get married. When you get married you make commitments to one another and that will mean making compromises too. If you want to ditch your job and go travelling for a year, do it before you get married, or you may regret not having done it before.
3. You need to reach an agreement of finances
Money, mortgages, and bank loans are probably not at the front of your mind when you are in love and looking forward to getting married, and many people do not put enough thought into their finances before they tie the knot. How will your finances be organised? This is not the most romantic, yet one of the most practical things to know before getting married. Agree on how you will handle the finances before you get married and it will avoid a lot of arguing later.
4. Do you agree about children?
There are a few things that you need to understand about each other before you get married too. One of the most important things to know before getting married and have reached an agreement on is whether or not, or when, you will have children. If you brush this one under the carpet, it will become a major issue later on, so you both need to know if you intended starting a family, and when.
5. Does he get on with your family?
The fact that your boyfriend doesn’t like your father may not be a big deal when you are just dating, but when you get married, that could get in the way of you seeing your own father. Like it or not, when you get married, you join each other’s family and that means attending family gatherings and having the in-laws stay over to stay with you.
6. Don’t dump all your friends when you get married
Many people do desert their friends when they get married and then regret it later. You will need a life outside of your marriage, and it’s healthy in a marriage for both of you to go out with friends sometimes. You may not believe this right now, if you are caught up in all the romance, but the ‘flower-chocolate period’ really doesn’t last forever and you will miss your friends after a while if you do dump them.
7. You won’t be able to change him
This is another one of very important things to know before getting married. You definitely should be reconsidering your decision to get married, if you think you can change him. A ring in the finger doesn’t instantly change a person, so if you are expecting your wild man to become the perfect husband after the honeymoon, you might be in for a shock.
8. But, you will both change over time
When you get married you are agreeing to be with your partner for the long run and people do change over time. The relationship will probably become more settled and, arguably, even a little bit boring. You will both have to adapt to these changes and work at making sure that the relationship stays both interesting and secure.
9. You will both have to change your routines
Unless you have lived with the guy for a long time before the wedding, you will both have to learn how to live together and that can take longer than you might think to happen. You might discover that you both have some irritating habits that you had not realised before, and you will have to change your daily routines to fit in with each other too.
10. You will probably have some doubts
One of the biggest shocks that newlyweds often have is that they find themselves wondering if they have done the right thing. When you have your first serious fight, or you come up against a major thing that you can’t agree on, it is only natural that you might begin to doubt that marriage was a good move after all. That, though, is when the marriage becomes stronger, you make compromises, and you realise that the marriage is more important than a single disagreement.
1. Let God be the head of your relationship and the head of your home.
2. Give love first place ALWAYS.
3. Share family responsibilities.
4. Spend time together.
5. Handle conflict with care and sensitivity.
6.Maintain open communication always.
7. Allow nothing to come between you.
When relationship problems start, they can get complicated quickly. One tool that can help you repair your relationship and keep it on a healthy course is mentalizing.
It sounds like a very technical sounding word, but mentalizing is simply having an understanding, and being able to relate to, the mental states that drive people’s actions – including both you and others. For instance, you are mentalizing when you intuitively understand that your friend is impatient with you because of the stress of her crumbling marriage; and so you are kind to her despite her behavior.
But there are times for everyone when their ability to mentalize is weakened, or they even lose it totally. For instance, when your emotions are intense – from either love or anger – your ability to think gets clouded. At other times, you may seem to be thinking clearly, but feel emotionally numb. These struggles can also happen when you are tired, sick, in conflict, or overwhelmed with life pressures.
To help maintain – or recover – your ability to mentalize, consider these four tips derived from the work of researchers and clinicians, Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman:
Let your relationship happen, but know when to reconsider your reactions. You don’t want to overthink your relationship, but there are times when it’s helpful to think carefully about what is happening. A common sign of when to pause and consider is when your emotional reaction overtakes you or your reaction seems out of proportion to a situation. In these circumstances, reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. If you need help gaining perspective, talk with someone you trust and respect.
Feel the love (and all your other emotions), but reflect on your relationship, too. Falling in love is clearly an affair of the heart, which can be wonderful – but it can also cloud your ability to think. The same can be said of other close relationships, though often to a lesser extent. When you are immersed in your emotions, it can be helpful to find a way to bring down the intensity – maybe through a few deep breaths or a brisk walk – and then gain some intellectual perspective on your situation. On the other hand, if you find that you are responding to an emotional situation with cold logic, it can help to try to reconnect with your own or your partner’s emotions. (Keep in mind, though, that it can sometimes be helpful to be emotionally distant—perhaps processing your emotions later, especially when you need to act in a crisis situation.) Many people find that focusing on their bodily sensations helps them to reconnect with their emotions.
Know yourself and your partner. If you lose sight of your partner’s experience, take the time to try to see and feel the world as they do. If you become disconnected from yourself, take the time to fully attend to and have empathy for your own experiences.
Pay attention to action and intention. Remember to take both people’s actions and their motivations into account when responding. By understanding someone’s motivations, you are allowing yourself to connect with their human experience and perhaps work better at resolving issues between you. But even the best of intentions or the most understandable difficulties cannot undo or excuse problematic actions. For instance, you might understand your boyfriend or girlfriend struggling with frustrations from work, but you may still choose to leave the relationship because you don’t accept their pattern of exploding in anger.
By following these tips, you can keep your mentalizing strong, or recover it after things have gone wrong. And with persistence in doing this, you can enjoy a happy relationship.
Our mistakes often begin with our beliefs. In many of the couples I’ve worked with, one or both partners holds a faulty belief that keeps them from doing the work to improve their relationships, and sometimes, causes them to end a relationship that could perhaps have been saved. Of the many beliefs that undermine relationships, these four beliefs are the most common:
“I shouldn’t have to ask for what I want.” People often think that their partners should understand them so well that their thoughts, feelings, and desires should be apparent – no questions asked. If they have to ask for what they want, that means that their partner is just doing it because they asked; not because it came from the heart.
Unfortunately, your partner cannot read your mind. Even if what you want seems obvious, it may not be obvious to your partner. Or, your partner may not fully appreciate how important it is to you. Of course, there are some people who are better at being in tune with their partners. But the truth is that it is more important to have a partner who really listens, respects, and responds to you with love. In fact, I’ve found that people often feel suffocated by partners who devote themselves to anticipating their every need.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (You can thank the 1970 film Love Story for this trouble maker.) Not only is this incorrect, the reality is that love means almost the exact opposite. When people love each other, they care deeply about their partner. They are upset to learn when something they have done has hurt the one they love. So, even if the wronged partner is understanding and does not need an apology, the offending partner often feels a need to apologize or somehow right a wrong. And it’s important for their partner to know that they earnestly do not want to hurt them. This may or may not require a verbal apology.
“If you really cared about me, you would agree.” People sometimes get so caught up in their own way of thinking and feeling that they cannot imagine a different perspective. Because their perspective is the only “acceptable” one, their partner disagreeing with them feels like a rejection. If you struggle with feeling this way, think carefully about whether your partner’s perspective might make sense, even if you don’t agree with it. Is it possible that your partner disagrees with you or sees things differently, but still cares very much about your thoughts and feelings? If the answer is no, then you might truly need to consider ending your relationship. But if your answer is yes (or even “maybe”), then you might want to talk more with your partner so that you can fully understand each other and – despite your differences – feel mutual respect and caring.
“Passion cannot be revived.” I see this belief a lot. People often think of passion as something that happens to them, like catching a cold. So, when their passion fades after months or years, they think that their relationship is over – even if they still care deeply for their partner. What they fail to realize is that couples have varying levels of passion, that it is natural for it to change over time, and that passion is something that can be stoked.
So, it is up to you to decide whether there is enough passion in your relationship for you. And if there is not, then you can work with your partner to ignite whatever embers still burn. Return to the kinds of things you used to do together. Even better, make new plans that excite you both. Read books and articles on the topic (this blog post offers some tips), and if necessary, pursue couples therapy.
By questioning these faulty and problematic beliefs, you can avoid the relationship mistakes that many people make. Instead, you and your partner can improve your current relationship and enjoy a happy future together.
When your relationship means a lot to you, conflicts with your partner can often cut you to the core emotionally. And your hard-wired reaction of fighting or running away (even just emotionally) will likely erode your relationship over time. However, you can learn more constructive ways to ease tensions.
The key to dealing constructively with differences is adding thought back into the equation. By tolerating your feelings as you talk through issues, you can overcome misunderstandings and bridge differences. One way to do this is to gain an understanding of how each of you responds to conflict in your relationship.
Talk during calm times about each other’s patterns and how you might each respond better when you experience conflict. For instance, you might learn that emotions are too high during conflict for the two of you to have a constructive conversation. So, the next time conflict arises, you can approach it differently – you might choose to reassure each other of your love despite the current difference of opinion, or you might take a few minute break. Or, by understanding each other’s reactions better, you might simply have more empathy for and a greater understanding of your partner’s response.
The social worker and Emotionally Focused couple therapist, Douglas Tilley, LCSW, developed a “therapy form” (published in the book Becoming an Emotionally Focused Therapist) that can help people identify their patterns during conflict.
Here are some questions, based on this form, that can help you identify some of your patterns by encouraging you to think about different dimensions of your reactions during conflict:
Your actions: What do you do? (e.g. criticize, analyze, withdraw) To help answer this question, imagine a video replay of your conflicts.
Your emotions: What feelings do you have? (e.g. scared, lonely, hopeless, angry) It might help to imagine yourself back in a conflict. Be open to whatever emotions arise, and then label them.
Sensations in your body: What do you sense in your body? (e.g. heart speeding up, uneasy in my stomach) As you allow for your emotions to arise, also pay attention to whatever bodily sensations accompany those emotions.
(It has been my experience in doing therapy that when people have trouble identifying their emotions, it can help for them to first pay attention to their sensations. As they focus on those sensations, the emotions then sometimes become more apparent.)
Your style of coping with conflict: What patterns do you and your partner tend to act out? (e.g. I often avoid talking, I often get angry and critical) Think of not just you or your partner, but of how the two of you act toward each other. Consider how each action affects the other person and leads to particular reactions.
You and your partner might want to consider each of these questions separately and then talk about your responses. Do it at a time when tensions are low so that you can keep it a constructive experience. As part of your discussion, you might discuss things you can each do within yourselves and for each other to help your conflicts or disagreements remain more constructive.
Your relationship is bound to have conflicts – all relationships do – but you can find a way through these tensions together. You can feel and express mutual respect, support, and love – even when you remain at odds. If you and your partner can maintain the perspective that you are ultimately on each other’s side, then you will be free to tend to each other and maintain a loving relationship.