Taking a Look at Your Marriage: Time for a Close-Up
Marriage may seem like a fairly simple concept, but as everyone knows, people and the relationships they have are complex. There's an infinite number of factors that can change instantaneously, transforming the dynamics of marriage in many cases. To avoid downgrading your relationship when you've got a good thing going, you can proactively protect your marriage by making a consistent effort to keep your foundation strong. There are several characteristics of a strong marriage that pertain to every married couple, no matter how different they are as individuals. The following are some of those characteristics, so you might consider evaluating their presence in your marriage, finding out what you're doing right and what could use some extra attention. By doing this, you can become an even stronger couple and prevent life from manipulating your marriage.
Snapshot of a Strong Marriage
Friendship: This goes beyond the romantic connection. It's the foundation of your marriage and needs to be actively cultivated. Friendship is a continuous process of learning about and appreciating the other person in the relationship and means, fundamentally, that you consistently enjoy each other's company. By keeping your friendship strong, you'll be able to maintain your expertise on when your partner's feelings are hurt, what to do about it, how to apologize, and how to control the conflict that's inevitable in every friendship and marriage.
Kindness, Respect, and Nurturing Attitudes: Remember that your courtship should never be over. Keep trying to win your partner's affections, and you'll be able to keep them for the duration of your marriage. By doing this, you weave an emotional safety net that can protect your marriage even when you're experiencing conflict. Maintain respect so that neither of you feels insecure about discussing personal and marital issues with the other. It's also helpful to keep thinking about what you admire about each other, then make sure you talk about it to keep yourselves invested in one another.
Individual Initiative and Participation: You can't and shouldn't control the actions of your partner, but you can control your own reactions and responses. Make sure you pay attention to yourself and your role in the marriage rather than focusing on the two of you as a single entity. Remember to stay motivated and take care of yourself both inside and out. When your partner sees that you place significant value on yourself, he or she is likely to follow suit.
Acknowledgement and Healthy Resolution of Conflict: If you're having an issue or problem, don't cover it up. Choose the right moment and talk about it with your spouse. This will prevent small issues from being swept under the rug and growing over time into seemingly insurmountable problems. Either solve your problems immediately or work together to develop a strategy for dealing with them.
Mutual Maintenance of the Marriage Commitment: Believe in your marriage. If you're both sure of your commitment, you'll be more likely to maintain it by creating a sense of stability and permanence.
Shared Purpose: Be constantly aware of where you're headed as a couple, what your dreams are, what kinds of values you want to develop, and how you want your relationship to evolve. Talk about your hopes and create action plans to help you both achieve your goals, enabling yourselves as individuals and as a couple.
Exploring Marital Advice
If you're curious about evaluating your marriage further and finding out about more professional tips and strategies for maintaining a strong relationship, you might consider visiting the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center page. There's a helpful three-part series of tip sheets on couples' communication, as well as a variety of advice on everything from romancing your partner on a budget to teaching your kids about healthy marriage. Enjoy taking advantage of these great resources to help you keep your marriage strong and happy.