Every marriage has challenges. The key is how both parties work through them and work toward common goals. This requires not focusing on yourself, but instead focusing on the two of you as a unit, progressing together through life. In short, be one with your spouse by developing shared goals, likes and dislikes. This approach provides the right context for making choices about everything that will affect you and your significant other.
Of course, it’s important not to supersede yourself in the process of embracing coupledom. You are still you, even in marriage. It’s crucial to actively communicate with yourself, just as much as it is with your partner. Understanding your own goals for your relationship and you is vital for success. It becomes a cornerstone for creating a viable family plan that supports and nurtures everyone. Learning verbal and non-verbal keys in all aspects of your communications will help you as a couple grow together and develop a deep understanding of the behavioral cues that will help each partner anticipate what the other wants and needs.
Every marriage is multi-faceted, with layers of interactions and activities that, taken as a whole, define the relationship. To keep yours healthy, active, and dynamic, here are five fundamental elements worth incorporating in your relationship:
1. Set routines On the surface, this may sound counterproductive. Routines are boring, right? In reality, routines are both comforting and necessary for stability and peace-of-mind. They are especially important in helping you carve out time for each other. For example, decide that you’ll have regular “date nights” to focus on each other. It doesn’t have to be every Thursday or the third Saturday of every the month. Allow yourself the flexibility to schedule when you can both fully enjoy it. But do it.
2. Be honest about feelings There is no word more fraught with tension, stress, and bitterness than the word “fine” muttered between clenched teeth. Whatever the issue, it is certainly NOT fine. Don’t let toxicity invade your relationship. Express your feelings in a healthy way and let your partner know what’s going on. Never assume or hope that they’ll just “know.”
3. Put your marriage first Heresy, right? My kids! My career! Guess what. All of that is secondary and at risk if your relationship is rocky. If the two of you are rock solid, everything else will fall into place. Your kids will thank you for it and your boss will, too, because you’ll be happier, more positive, and more productive.
4. Discover what makes each other happy Do unto the other as he or she would like it done. Often in a loving relationship, people tend to use projection -- the subjective act of attributing one's own feelings to others; the tendency to "hear" others' feelings in relationship to one's own self-concept and experiences. When spouses use projection, they think that what they want is the same as what their spouse wants. We are all individuals and we are all different. Take the time to discover what each of you really wants and your relationship will flourish.
5. Learn how to stay in love Spend time together building your relationship. After marriage, some couples drift apart. They no longer spend as much time together, are not as affectionate, and don't devote special attention to each other as they did during courtship. A key component of staying in love is staying physical, in every sense of the word. Part of having a healthy life is making time for physical exercise, so why not work out as couples? Anytime only one partner in a marriage makes the effort to exercise, it has the potential to create resentment between both parties. The one who works out feels as if he or she is the only one who cares about health and appearance. If you exercise together and get the blood flowing and your body warmed up, who knows what else might happen – in a good way.
Marriage requires a daily investment in your partner. Use journaling to explore your relationship and ways to continually make it better. Look for ways to enrich their life, regardless of how small the action may be. The right compliment at the right time can make all the difference in the world. After all, it's about thinking more about your partner than any material thing. Remember this: stuff disappears. Love, nurtured, is forever.
If you want to learn how to build a healthy & happy marriage you can’t live without, please download the free eBook titled Avoiding the 24/7 Motherhood Struggle Through Journaling.