4 Key Signs of a Healthy Marriage
Getting married is no guarantee of eternal happiness. The divorce rate has been falling in past decades, but it remains a distinct possibility. Taking the temperature of your relationship now and then can help you fix issues as they arise and ultimately ensure that you have a strong, healthy marriage that can last a lifetime. Here are 4 key signs of a healthy marriage.
1. Personal Responsibility
Giving and receiving support is an important part of a healthy marriage, but some couples go way too far. Known as enmeshment, when personal boundaries become unclear, it becomes difficult for both partners to remain strong and independent individuals. For your marriage to remain healthy, you should both have a sincere sense of personal responsibility, not only for your own individual needs, but also for the part you play in the success of the marriage.
In a healthy marriage, both partners encourage each other’s individuality and help lift each other’s strengths. Focus on building each other’s confidence rather than trying to solve each other’s problems. Also avoid the urge to ask your partner to step in and do things that you could do for yourself. When both people are healthy individuals, a strong marriage can flourish.
2. True Partnership
Daily living requires a great deal of work, from paying the monthly bills to mowing the lawn. Couples divide up these tasks in innumerable ways. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is important that neither partner become entirely uninformed. Make the time to check in with each other now and then on how things are going, and be sure to update your spouse when something important changes.
Big decisions should never be made without both spouses weighing in. Set a dollar limit above which you will discuss purchasing decisions, and agree to talk about anything that will significantly impact both partners’ lives, such as taking a new job or changing your child’s school.
3. Honest Communication
Many couples talk constantly, but never really say anything. Others are so busy that they barely say more than a few sentences to each other all week. Both scenarios can lead to distrust, resentment, isolation, and loneliness.
Make time to talk to each other about the things that are meaningful in your lives. Whether you are up for a big promotion or concerned about a recent doctor’s visit, let your spouse know. Taking personal responsibility does not mean you should become secretive or shoulder your burdens alone. It only means that you shouldn’t make your problems your spouse’s fault or turn them over to be fixed.
Partnership also means treating each other with respect. Check your fighting style. Does one spouse regularly give in to keep the peace? Do either of you say demeaning, dismissive, or belittling things? To move towards a healthier way of resolving conflict, think about how you resolve disagreements at work. Bring some of your professional negotiation and conflict resolution skills into your home.
4. Shared Experiences
In today’s busy world, many people spend a great deal more time with their coworkers, friends, and relatives than with their spouse. On the rare occasions that they are together, it is easy for married couples to fall into a comfortable but boring routine. Yet shared novelty has been repeatedly shown to stimulate the same biochemical brain centers that were in overdrive when couples first fell in love.
To keep your marriage healthy, make time to do things together. Skydiving, kayaking, and other high-thrill experiences are excellent ways to connect, but you don’t have to be a thrill seeker to derive the benefits of novelty. Even making a weekly or monthly movie date can have a powerful impact, allowing you to share the experience of living inside the characters’ heads and worlds for a period of time.
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All marriages go through phases, and you might occasionally feel like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. As long as your thoughts about the marriage are generally more positive than negative, there is no reason to panic. Just keep an eye on the relationship and strive to implement healthier practices where you see current weaknesses. Marriage is a journey, and as long as both partners are committed to working it out, you will continue to learn and grow together throughout your lives.
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