Marriage can become increasingly difficult as life becomes routine for couples. Many couples neglect themselves and each other as they begin to make work, raising children, church, and other obligations outside of their marriage a priority.
We neglect ourselves and each other for many reasons, but the most common and most obvious reasons are we take our own lives and mortality for granted, and assume we and our spouses will always be around.
The truth is our personal health and well-being should not be put on hold while we take care of everything else and everyone else, nor should our marriages.
Married individuals also tend to neglect the care of themselves or each other as a result of an ongoing conflict.
Unresolved conflicts lead to avoidance in marriage
When there is ongoing and unresolved conflict in a marriage avoidance usually happens.
Most individuals avoid talking to their spouse due to the fear that talking about it or bringing it up will just cause another argument. With avoidance comes a distance, and with distance comes to lack of insight and knowledge.
For example, if you are avoiding your spouse because you fear another disagreement is inevitable while your spouse is dealing with illness, stress at work or trauma, or any type of physical or emotional symptoms, you may find yourself in the dark about your spouse’s condition.
When your spouse feels connected to you they are more likely to share their daily emotions, challenges, victories, and experiences with you.
When one partner has been emotionally unavailable long-term due to ongoing conflict or other reasons, it forces their spouse to suppress feelings, symptoms, thoughts, and experiences.
At times one could feel their only option is to share them with someone else who might be emotionally available and interested in hearing about how they are doing on a daily basis. Eventually, they might begin to feel more connected to this outside person (usually a co-worker, friend, neighbor, or someone they met online).
This opens the door for one or both parties to become emotionally attached to someone other than their spouse.
Taking care of each other is one of the most important responsibilities in a marriage, and if you are always fighting, disconnected, or emotionally unavailable it is impossible to satisfy this responsibility adequately.
Too often an affair, a medical crisis, or an emergency interrupts this habitual cycle of conflict, avoidance, and failure to remain emotionally available. Unfortunately, many couples don’t acknowledge the extent to which they have taken each other for granted until such an event has occurred.
Understand time is valuable
Reconnecting and understanding that time is valuable prior to any medical crisis or life-threatening circumstances is the best choice.
This is likely to prevent such crises or emergencies, as being in tune with each other daily will increase the likelihood that one will notice changes in their spouses’ mood, behavior, or well-being and encourage them to seek necessary treatment or services.
In addition, when there is no disconnect between husband and wife, the likelihood of being vulnerable to infidelity is reduced.
An individual is less likely to take care of himself or herself if they don’t have loved ones who care and are paying attention around, especially men.
It is a known fact that –
Married men live longer than men who aren’t married.
This means that when you aren’t taking care of each other, you are less likely to take care of yourselves as individuals. This could result in deterioration in overall mental and physical health.
Taking care of each other as it relates to the body simply means you are encouraging each other to be active, eat healthily, get proper rest, and seek medical attention when necessary.
Physical contact in marriage is important
Making sure that your spouse isn’t longing for physical contact is another way to take care of them physically.
As humans, we all long for physical contact and the opportunity to exercise and utilize our sense of touch. It is absurd for any married individual to find themselves longing for this or to feel as though this is not an option for them.
No one gets married anticipating that they will be deprived and starved of human touch and/or physical contact.
Unfortunately, very often this happens often in marriage. Each individual should feel they can freely use all five of your senses in their marriage to feel, give, and receive love.
Physical contact is not limited to but does include sex.
Other ways one can make sure their spouse does not find themselves starving for human contact is by holding hands, kissing, sitting on each other’s lap, cuddling, shoulder rubs, taps on the backside, hugs, and soft kisses on the neck or other parts of the body.
Softly rubbing your spouse’s leg, head, arm, or back is also effective.
After all, who doesn’t like to lay on their spouses’ chest and feel the warmth of their hand gently rub their head, back, or arm?
This is quite comforting to most but can become a foreign form of affection in marriages if it never occurs.
Once it becomes foreign or unfamiliar, it might be uncomfortable for you or your spouse for the first few times. The goal should be to make this a regular, familiar, and comfortable part of affection in your marriage.
Shared expectations can reduce problems in marriage
Sex is a major part of intimacy in marriage, more so for some than others.
One mistake people make in marriages is failing to consider whether a physical touch is as important to their spouse as it is for them.
If one party views other forms of intimacy more important and their partner views the actual physical act of sex as most important, this can become problematic if they aren’t able to have a healthy dialogue about it and plan accordingly.
Discuss this and figure out how you can accommodate each other’s physical needs and desires so that neither feels deprived of what they see as important.
Taking care of yourself and your spouse as it relates to mind and/or emotions can be complex since our difference in needs is complex.
Married couples must provide emotional support for each other, and must understand each other’s emotional differences and needs first.
Communication in marriage creates a healthy bonding
Communication must be healthy.
For example, understanding that women and men communicate differently is a very important part of making sure communication and action were taken in this area are healthy and adequate.
There are always exceptions to the rule but in general, women need to communicate more frequently and more extensively. In addition, men need to feel safe enough with their spouse to be vulnerable by communicating their feelings.
They need to know that what they share won’t be somehow used against them in a future disagreement or discussion.
Another way to ensure you are catering to each other’s emotional needs by ensuring communication is healthy in a marriage is by making sure you are not only communicating more frequently but making sure the content of the discussion is meaningful, purposeful, and beneficial.
Talking about the weather won’t do. Ask your partner if they believe they are not being taken care of in any area and what they believe you can do to address this deficit.
Discuss ways that you believe you and your spouse could contribute to making your marriage healthier, more fun, and more fulfilling. As I stated earlier, make sure conflict does not go unresolved as this is toxic to the marriage and hinders communication.
You will find it quite difficult to have meaningful and frequent communication or physical contact if you have weeks, months, or years of unresolved conflict.
The sense of identity and individuality prevents unwanted depressions and anxieties
The best thing we can do for our spouses spiritually is not expecting them to be our God.
For example, we all have deep needs that another human can’t satisfy such as, the need for purpose and identity.
Expecting your spouse to be your purpose or the only reason you get out of bed in the morning is dangerous for several reasons.
One reason is this simply isn’t their responsibility as your spouse. Another deep need your spouse can’t possibly fulfill is the need for a sense of identity.
When we allow our marriages to be our identity and we have no idea who we are outside of the marriage we set ourselves up for deep depression, lack of fulfillment, anxiety, a toxic marriage, and more.
Your marriage should be a part of who you are, not solely who you are.
If you happen to be forced to live without your spouse someday, and you find yourself with no identity and no sense of purpose, you might struggle to find reasons to live, become severely depressed, or worse.
These deep needs can only be fulfilled by you and your higher power.
If you don’t believe in God or you don’t have a higher power you must dig down deep and satisfy these needs or find healthy ways to fulfill them.