All Relationships Require Work, or Maintenance.
A Marital Relationship is No Exception.
This brief list will go over helpful tips suggested by leading marriage experts and counselors that are essential to not only maintain a healthy marriage, but also to keep the relationship flourishing.
You must talk to your spouse! When the experts say “talk,” they really mean, engage in deeper conversations with your spouse.
Surface-level small talk does not count regarding healthy, meaningful communication.
Just having frequent non-surface-level conversations with your partner is by far one of the best ways to help your marriage stay strong.
It is important that when you are communicating that you are being honest with your partner as to what exactly it is you are going through emotionally. However, when being honest it is also just as important to be respectful and compassionate in your honesty. Sometimes the truth can hurt, even if it is communicated in a loving way, but it is important that your truths be heard, so you can work them out as the team you are.
Another essential element of having effective communication sessions in a marriage is making sure you are being a high-quality listener. You need to actively take the time and make the effort to understand what exactly it is your spouse is trying to convey to you. If they are exerting energy to honestly express their wants and needs in your relationship, you need to be there to listen to that, just as you would expect them to.
Most say the hardest part of communication in a marriage is making the time. Both parties need to make sure they are doing their part to allow the lines of communication to open. This can be done by making a conscious effort to talk often. Talking about kids, groceries, house projects, and bills do not count.
Sometimes when life gets so busy, it might be worth scheduling a time on a regular basis where you both sit down and designate a time to exchange your thoughts and feelings. Ideally, this habit will make you both feel more connected and more comfortable as a couple when conflicts arise, and more ready to face those challenges as a unit and not separately.
This tip is the least “lovey-dovey” of the list, but a realistic and pragmatic tip that can save you from a mess of conflict down the road.
Financial stresses can break a marriage down remarkably quickly. In fact, money problems can negatively impact marriages, causing complete breakdowns, faster than affairs.
This is according to the scientists who conducted a study on the subject and wrote the academic journal over that study titled, “For Richer, for Poorer: Money as a Topic of Marital Conflict in the Home,”
Based on the findings of Lauren M. Papp, Ph.D., E. Mark Cummings, Ph.D., and Marcie C. Goeke-Morey, Ph.D. they concluded that;
“-compared to non-money issues, marital conflicts about money were more pervasive, problematic, and recurrent, and remained unresolved, despite including more attempts at problem-solving.”
Their experiment showed that money tends to be the major root of why people end up fighting, in the context of marriages.
Therefore, to prevent this you and your partner should set a time to have a conversation over your current finances and financial goals/plans as a couple.
This conversation should include decisions being made on clearly outlined financial rules that both parties are required to follow. This could be rules regarding leisure spending, who is paying what bills each month, and divulging what each other's credit scores currently are, and goals on how to maintain your current scores or improve them. Essentially, the focus of this conversation should be what you both want your financial futures to look like.
In a perfect world, this conversation would happen before you are married, therefore these can just be laid out as you move into your new marital relationship dynamic, and any problems that could arise would be resolved pre-nuptials. However, that does not always happen, and the sooner this conversation can happen in the marriage the better off the union will be for both spouses.
Just because you have a deep love for someone, who has a deep love for you, doesn't equate to agreeing on every aspect of your life. Whether they be small or big issues.
When a disagreement does occur, which it will; do not allow yourself to take your anger out on your spouse. This response is entirely unproductive.
The best way to handle disagreements in a marriage is to be willing to listen to your spouse's point of view. This goes for both sides. If either of you is unable to remain calm and communicate effectively when a disagreement occurs it is likely for the best you tell your partner you need time to cool off and want to revisit this subject when you can discuss it in a healthier way.
When you both have had time to calm down and think things over, that is an appropriate time to try to start the discussion again, on the subject that caused the disagreement in the first place. Both spouses should be prepared to compromise in situations like these. Ideally, in this healthy discussion over the disagreement, compromises are made and both spouses can move forward happily. However, some situations or topics understandably are harder to compromise on than others.
In the event both sides are unwilling to compromise on the issue, both sides need to consider what is most important to them. Their marital union, their love for one another, and their family, or the disagreement at hand. Then they must make their choice on how to move forward regarding decisions on the disagreed upon matter, based on what is most important to them in that analysis.
In any marriage trust is the foundation the relationship itself is built upon. Without a strong foundation of trust, the more turbulent a marital union will be.
World-renowned researcher on marital stability and divorce prediction, as well as a practicing marriage therapist, Dr. John Gottman has conducted over 40 years of research with thousands of married couples. In his studies on healthy marriages, he has found that being defensive, acting in judgmental or critical ways, harboring general disdain, and having persistent avoidance to communicate and/or expressing emotions are serious threats to any marriage, and especially destructive to the foundation of trust the marriage is built upon.
Dr. Gottman’s research shows that marriages that are happy and long-lasting often include spouses who are well versed in how to “argue” or “fight” with one another, without using hostility.
Another characteristic, these spouses tend to possess is the ability to take on responsibility for their actions. Married couples with strong foundations of trust, also include spouses with tendencies to be more eager to rapidly respond to their partner's qualms, in order to make up, and move on after “fights”, and focus their energy on maintaining or repairing the marital relationship, opposed to holding grudges and focusing on negatives in the relationship.
You may have realized this by now, but you and your partner are both human beings.
As we all know, no human being is perfect, and you, as well as your partner, are likely to make mistakes from time to time. Forgiveness can be a challenge depending on the severity of the mistake or miscommunication that is regarded in a spouse getting hurt. However, if you are the spouse that has made the mistake or the “offense”, be ready to own up to your actions and take responsibility.
On the other hand, if you are the partner that has been hurt by something your spouse has done, allow them to explain, and attempt to understand where they are coming from, and offer your forgiveness. We all make mistakes, even the people we love, and we need to be ready to forgive them and hope that they would do the same for us. Love, forgiveness, and trust all go hand in hand and are all key components to a healthy marital dynamic.
No One Enters a Marriage Hoping For It To End In Divorce.
This list of tips from healthy marriage experts are ways to prevent a marriage from ever getting to that point.
Are these tips foolproof, or 100% guaranteed to work? Absolutely not.
Romantic relationships are incredibly complex social structures, and every marital union has unique variables. Sometimes it is an unfortunate reality that divorce is the only option, for both parties to be happy in their lives. However, this list can help prevent marriages from ending in divorce, and thrive for years, if used properly and consistently.
Sometimes having a mediation or even scheduling a consultation with an attorney can put things in perspective for couples considering divorce, and effectively show them what really is most important to them.
For some couples, the most important thing is to get away from their partner by means of divorce due to unreconcilable differences.
Other times it is found in consultations or mediation sessions that, these differences are able to be handled, and spouses are able to reconcile and repair/maintain their marriage.
In either scenario, there is no shame. No route is one-size-fits-all. If you are considering divorce, whether it be contested or uncontested, or looking for a mediation session over a parenting plan with your partner, we can help.