After the wedding bells stop their ringing, the fact settles in – you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person, with all their flaws and failings, gifts and graces. There’s no wonder they put in that bit about “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad,” because life has a way of throwing tests our way. This could be anything, from arguments over money, a lack of excitement or feelings of inadequacy. But love is a strong thing, and with a little help, it’s easy to maintain a happy, healthy marriage (well, maybe not easy, but certainly less difficult!) Here are four tips:
Marriage dynamics are liable to fluctuate a little, with one person feeling they’re “giving more” or “loving more” than the other, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Building your partner’s self-esteem is not only good for their health, but it’s good for the marriage’s health as well, as it strengthens your connection. Bonus points here if you compliment your loved one in front of others – it shows that you’re a team, and reconfirms that your love isn’t just confined to the private sphere.
This doesn’t need to just be for marriages with “capital p Problems,” but can be for anyone who wants to strengthen their relationship. If there is trouble communicating if there is a shared traumatic event you’re processing, or if there’s a simple clash of opinions – naming but a few reasons – couples counseling services can help you work through it. There’s no sense in bottling up feelings, especially not with your life partner, but sometimes feelings aren’t expressed ideally; visiting a couples counselor can help put an end to cycles of conflict within a relationship.
Providing your loved one with “acts of service” – a term popularized by the 5 Love Languages book –can strengthen your connection with them. This can a small gesture, like the compliment mentioned above or cooking their favorite food, or it can be a small gift, like the clichéd red rose or an article of clothing. Tell them to relax while you do the dishes; tell them it’s their turn to pick the movie; buy them a small gift for no reason. These courteous gestures add up, and they bolster a healthy relationship.
The cornerstone of a happy relationship is the ability to communicate, sometimes about uncomfortable things. These could be bedroom preferences, differences of opinion or things you want to see changed. Being able to speak in a non-accusatory, empathetic and loving manner about sensitive subjects is definitely a skill – as mentioned, involving a couples counselor can be very beneficial in these situations.
There they are – let’s call them The Four C’s. And you can add compromise and commitment to those as well. Your partner might not always be exactly what you want or need, them to be, but you fell in love with them for a reason. If you want to maintain a happy, healthy marriage well into old age, talk and laugh together, be generous and seek professional help if you feel things are too complicated to handle. Ask your loved one whether they’ll work with you on strengthening your marriage – guaranteed, they’ll say, “I do.”