For many of us, our marriages are a huge part of our lives. But let’s face it, it’s not always sweet. Routine, career pressures, and raising kids can all present certain challenges to a marriage’s health and longevity.
Recent statistics show that 40-50% of marriages in the United States end up in divorce. This may seem depressing. But if you give your marriage continual “check ups” you can create a long-lasting and beautiful relationship. Read on to see five ways healthy couples stay together.
1. Carve out time for yourself.
The best couples are made of independently minded individuals. Find ways to carve out time for yourself. Get a hobby, join a gym, go out to lunch with a friend, or take a trip by yourself. Talk about your experiences with your spouse. Support your partner’s interests and passions, even if you don’t share them. Finding time to spend apart will give each of you interesting things to talk about once you are together.
2. Create rituals and traditions.
Bonding with each other is an ongoing process. It’s crucial not to neglect the little rituals that only you two share. “Date nights” are important, no matter how cliched the term has become! Depending on your schedule this may be once a week or once a month, but make sure you commit to it. Or you can do something simple every night. For example, drink a glass of wine or tea together before going to bed. Make sure you spend this time with your phones tucked away, the TV off, and your mind focused on the present.
3. Communicate constructively, not destructively.
You’ve heard a million times that communication is key to any healthy relationship. Yet that doesn’t mean you can just complain and yell at each other when problems arise. Don’t save your manners for best friend or co-workers. Make sure to use them with your spouse. Would you, could you, please, thank you and sorry–these are magic words. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honest.
But you should think about how to phrase things, especially if you are expressing something you don’t like about your partner’s behavior. Contempt and aggression are the nemeses of happy relationships. Instead of saying, “I hate it when you leave dirty dishes,” try “Honey, could you please clean your dish next time?” Always speak to your partner with respect. It’s a small thing that makes a huge difference over the years.
4. Make a conscious effort to forgive.
This one is hard but not impossible. When your spouse has done something that hurts you try to understand the reasons behind their action. Maybe it’s something as small as your partner forgetting to pick up the laundry. Maybe they had a rough day at work and then they had to sit in a traffic jam and it slipped their mind. Avoid getting offended or upset before you know the whole story. If it’s a serious problem, speaking to a relationship counselor may be helpful. An objective third party helping you communicate with your loved one could be greatly beneficial for your marriage.
If you’re angry, try to put things into perspective. Think about all the wonderful things your partner has done for you in the past. Focusing on five or ten years of great moments might help you forgive a recent misstep!
5. Keep your marriage interesting.
It’s easy to get too comfortable with routine. But sharing new, exciting moments with your partner helps keep romance alive. In a study conducted by Aron, Norman, Aron, McKenna, and Heyman in 2000 showed that couples who share more exciting experiences with each other report higher relationship satisfaction. Take a dance class, join a competitive sports team, or travel to a new place, even if it’s just for a weekend afternoon.
No marriage is perfect. It requires constant work to maintain a strong relationship. That’s not a bad thing. The work behind a marriage can make our lives richer and help us continually grow as individuals. Remember that at the end of the day, a long-lasting marriage means having someone else’s long-lasting love and support. Offer that to your spouse and thank them for giving it to you.