Couples who evaluate the health of their relationship regularly tend to thrive better than other couples who do not engage in this practice. Relationship discord or dissatisfaction does not happen on its own. There are specific things that occur throughout the relationship that lead to increased dissatisfaction over time. Generally, couples don’t have specific conversations about how things are going in the relationship. If they do, it tends to be later on when things are starting to be at their worst.
So what are some things that need to be done to keep satisfaction levels high and to maintain a happy and healthy marriage?
1. Have meaningful conversations
It’s great to have conversations about the day to day events in your partner’s life, however, it’s good to get in the habit of having meaningful conversations about the relationship itself and how your partner feels about how things are going.
2. Confront issues early on
Express your concerns and your disappointments with your partner in a timely manner. Don’t allow unresolved conflicts to fester without appropriately expressing the way you feel. By expressing your feelings in a loving, honest and direct way, you allow you and your partner the opportunity to work together towards reconciliation.
3. Validate each other
Be sure to acknowledge your partner’s strengths and positive attributes. Be careful not to get too caught up in your everyday routine and responsibilities. Take a step back, take some time, and recognize your partner for their contributions to the relationship. Remind them why you love them, how special they are to you and what you value most about them. No one likes to feel unappreciated or unrecognized for their hard work.
4. Spend quality time together
Having a family can consume a lot of energy and time which makes it difficult to find balance in all your roles and responsibilities. Make a good effort to reserve some of your energy for your partner. Your partner needs to feel and know that they matter to you and that they are still a priority to you. Let them know in your own special way that you enjoy being with them. Quality time deepens your intimacy, enhances communication and strengthens your bond.
5. Have fun
Life can be challenging, demanding, busy and I could keep going on and on about the difficulties it brings us sometimes. Despite this, or better yet in spite of this, it’s important to create the time and space in your relationship to have fun. Laughter is good for the soul and it’s free! Did I mention free? It doesn’t have to take much to achieve this. You can plan fun activities you both enjoy doing or just be spontaneous and create new adventures. Whatever you decide to, keep it simple and fun.
6. Show unconditional positive regard
This involves demonstrating complete acceptance and support of your partner no matter what they say or do. When you married your spouse, you vowed to love each other in sickness and health, in good and bad times. Show unconditional positive regard for your partner so they know that your love for them is not dependent on circumstances. This allows your partner to feel safe to share anything with you, even if they know you will not like it. Acceptance does not mean that you endorse or condone a behavior. You can dislike a person’s behavior but sill have unconditional positive regard for them. Only then can you experience the freedom of just being you as well as reaching deeper levels of intimacy in your marriage.
7. Talk about sex
Don’t just have sex but have conversations about it. Talk about patterns, likes, dislikes, desires, fantasies, etc. Couples who have discussions about intimate topics are more likely to be healthier, happier and last longer. It’s easy to fall into sexual patterns in a relationship so having conversations about it allows you to evaluate those patterns to determine if there is a need or desire for change. It may seem a bit ridiculous but planning for sex ensures that you make it a priority in your relationship which will make you more likely to make time for it. You may need to talk about how to fit sex into your busy schedules. While planning is important flexibility is also needed. Be flexible, seek out opportunities to keep the intimate part of your relationship exciting.
The health of your marriage depends on you and your partner. It depends on your level of commitment, the effort and the time you put into it. This isn’t to say that other factors have no influence on the marriage’s health, but if you have the right foundation you can overcome the challenges.