Like most other adults, you likely have numerous responsibilities. You may try to eat well and exercise despite a crazy work schedule, and you even manage to make time for the kids. Unfortunately, marriages often fall by the wayside. By not spending time on their marriages, couples are at risk for problems within their relationships—including growing apart. On top of all of that, marital problems can take a toll on your health by causing anxiety, weight gain and depression. Learn the most important tips and advice for maintaining a happy, healthy marriage for years to come.
Have Regular, Open Communication
Communication is really the key to every successful human relationship. Friendships often diminish without regular communication, and marriages are the same. Even if you have hectic schedules, you should set aside a least a few minutes a day to talk. Opposite schedules can make face-to-face communication more challenging; if this is the case, set aside time for regular phone calls or Skype dates. Failure to communicate is a common cause of dissolved marriages because such couples tend to grow apart. Communication opens the doors for emotional connections that make you happy, thereby reducing stress and depression.
Getting started with communication is just half the battle. You must also learn how to be a good communicator as a spouse. Some tips include:
- Verbally express appreciation as often as possible
- Become an active listener—don’t just talk about your day and walk away
- Have discussions without distractions, such as cellphones and televisions
Learn to Overcome Differences
One of the reasons you may have gotten married is that you and your spouse have a lot in common with each other. Or, perhaps, you are in an opposites-attract type of relationship. Regardless of how much you have in common with your husband or wife, the fact is that no couples have everything in common. Differences in opinions, likes and tastes can lead to disagreements from time to time. Having an argument can be a scary scenario for couples who have never disagreed on anything before, but you must learn that such disagreements are normal. In fact, minor disagreements are even healthy because it helps you maintain self-esteem and individualism while having the confidence to stick up for your own beliefs.
While disagreements are normal, the only way to truly overcome your differences is to respect each other’s opinions. You must also know how to compromise and learn how to forgive. Guilt trips can lead to resentment, which also takes a toll on any marriage. Failure to resolve differences will only lead to more arguments, which can also take a physical toll. This can include insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, anxiety and depression.
Romance isn’t just for young couples. Married couples who work to maintain romance enjoy more overall happiness. The key is to create regular, uninterrupted time for intimacy and to stick with the date. Licensed marriage and family therapist, Lisa Thomas, recommends making these dates at least twice a week. Also, don’t be afraid to make small, seemingly silly romantic gestures like writing love notes. These small acts increase the romantic factor in your marriage and help you appreciate each other more.
Individual vs. Couple’s Time
Making regular time for each other can help keep romance alive. At the same time, however, it’s healthy to also make time for yourself. Having time apart helps spouses appreciate each other even more, and provides opportunities to explore different interests. Examples include book clubs, sports and volunteering. It’s important to determine the differences between individual and shared interests. By spending time on yourself, you’re more likely to enjoy couple’s time. Remember to keep “couple’s business” separate from regular couple’s time. This means that you should refrain from discussing finances and problems at home during your dates.
Be Active Together
A study reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that, while marriage can reduce your risk for depression, being married can increase your chances for obesity and related chronic illnesses. The study found that men and women gain an average of five pounds after marriage, but they are also more likely to engage in sedentary lifestyles. Being sedentary, combined with poor eating habits, can actually reduce the overall number of years you spend together. You can turn this around by focusing on being more active together. Try new activities, whether it’s walking around a new park, parasailing or trying out a gym. Not only will you help your health, but the time together will also strengthen your marriage.
Falling in love is a magical time that seems to come easy. While a marriage has its own magical moments, the reality is maintaining a lifelong relationship takes real time and effort. If you find that you and your spouse are having problems you cannot solve together, don’t hesitate to seek a professional marriage counselor for help.