Mental health can be something that is difficult to understand, fully grasp, or even measure, because it is, to a large extent, invisible and goes on inside your head. However, by careful observation and communication, a lot can be learned and discovered about mental health, both for individuals and for married couples. The relationship between marriage and mental health is indeed fascinating, and there are countless examples of both positive and negative effects. This article will take a look at some of the characteristics of a mentally healthy person and then discuss how marriage and mental health can work together.
Mentally healthy people feel good about themselves
Mental health has a lot to do with self-confidence and self-esteem, knowing that as a person you are valuable and you have a significant contribution to make in this life. When you are happily married to someone who values you and appreciates you, this goes a long way to boosting your sense of confidence and contentment, setting a strong foundation for being able to function in a healthy way, mentally as well as emotionally and physically. The converse is also true, if your spouse is critical and derogatory towards you, it will undermine your sense of worth and it will be much more difficult to remain mentally healthy in that kind of marriage.
Mentally healthy people are able to maintain satisfying personal relationships
Relationships are actually what this life is all about. When you are married, your spouse becomes your primary relationship, but there are still many other important relationships that need to be maintained with family members and friends. Mentally healthy people are able to keep up these relationships, making time for others as well as putting their spouse first. When a couple becomes largely inward looking and have few, if any, good relationships besides with each other, this may be an unhealthy sign. If one spouse isolates the other spouse, causing them to abandon or drift away from previous precious friendships, even with family members, this can be a serious indication of emotional abuse.
Mentally healthy people make their own decisions
The journey to adulthood involves learning to make your own decisions and take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions, whether good or bad. Someone who is mature and mentally healthy will not want or expect someone else to take the hard decisions of life on their behalf, because they realise that it is their very own privilege and responsibility. In a good marriage, each spouse gives the other one space to make their personal decisions, while discussing the options together and supporting each other regardless of the ultimate decision that is taken. The role of marriage in mental health can take a very sinister twist when one spouse abdicates their right to make their own decisions, and when the other spouse insists on taking all the decisions.
Mentally healthy people are not overwhelmed by their emotions
Hard times and struggles come to all of us, and it is good and appropriate to express our feelings of pain and struggle, whether through tears, anger, anxiety or guilt. However, when these emotions overwhelm us to the point of not being able to function normally in everyday life, over an extended period of time, then it could be a sign that we are not mentally healthy, or in fact mentally ill. A marriage partner can be the ideal person to come alongside a spouse who is struggling, and to call for the necessary help and professional assistance. Unfortunately, such problems are often ignored or pushed aside until they reach disastrous proportions. With regard to marriage and mental illness; in a good marriage relationship, mental health is just as important as physical health.
Mentally healthy people have a good sense of humor
It is indeed true that laughter is good medicine. If you and your partner can laugh together every day you have a precious treasure that needs to be nurtured and valued. People who are mentally healthy can laugh both at themselves and with others. If you are too serious to take a joke and become easily offended, you will probably find it hard to enjoy your marriage relationship. On the other hand, if your spouse’s “jokes” are mean and demeaning, and when you confront him (or her) about it, he refuses to change and blames you for being “too sensitive”, then perhaps you should seek help through counselling. This is a well know strategy of mentally unwell people who consistently break down their spouse with supposed “humor”. If nobody’s laughing it may in fact be abuse, not humor.
Mentally healthy people interact with others in a respectful way
Probably the clearest sign of good mental health is one’s ability to treat others with respect and dignity. This is because you realize your own worth as well as the worth of every other human being regardless of their age, beliefs, race, gender or status in life. Even when others are very different from you, you are able to behave towards them with understanding, while maintaining our own boundaries of good behaviour, whether in word or deed. Marriage is the ideal place to practice and foster this kind of respect, firstly for one another, secondly for your children, and finally for the many significant others in your life.