Whether you’ve been married for a few days or 50 years, there is one thing that rings true for all couples who’ve tied the knot: Having a healthy marriage takes work. A lasting partnership requires effort every single day, even when you may not feel like it.
With the emergence of social media, we are exposed to everyone’s highlight reels every day (because, let’s be honest, no one is posting their failures). While it can be a great tool for keeping up with friends and family, it’s also important to keep in mind that that perfect Instagram™ couple still goes through their fair share of issues. There is no need to compare your relationship to others who you see online, or in person! The most important thing is that you focus on strengthening your own marriage daily.
Every couple is different, but there are things that you can do to ensure your relationship with your spouse is healthy for years to come.
Communication is key.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but communication is the most important thing in a relationship. If you’ve been married for a longer amount of time, you’re probably already familiar with your spouse’s communication style and you’ve learned to make it work with yours, and if you’re newly married, you might just be figuring it out. It’s never too early or too late to make communication more effective within your marriage.
Jonathan Robinson, author of More Love, Less Conflict: A Communication Playbook for Couples, says, “The number one thing is that people want to be understood and they want to feel like their emotions are being valued. And when that doesn’t happen, marriages start having problems.” For this reason, it’s essential not only to communicate how you’re feeling, but also to listen intently to how your spouse is feeling.
Make a point to show appreciation to each other every single day. This could be something as simple as a sweet text message or a note left on the fridge. While this may seem like a small, insignificant gesture, it can make your spouse feel like what they’re doing matters.
Be trusting and trustworthy.
It’s essential that your marriage is built on a foundation of trust. Theresa Herring, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says, “Trust is built on regularly showing up in your relationship. Small, consistent efforts are worth more than grand gestures.”
Establishing trust in a relationship will not happen overnight. In fact, it can take years to build. However, there are ways that you can work on it with your spouse daily. This includes proving you’re committed to your relationship, being open and vulnerable, and making time for each other. Yes, all of this requires effort, but like we said, marriage takes work. Keep in mind that when it comes to marriage, it’s hard if you try, and it’s hard if you don’t. Pick the hard you can live with.
You are not perfect, and neither is your spouse. Accept the fact that while you have your flaws, your spouse has them too. Constantly trying to prove you’re better than one another is a never-ending spiral that will only have negative effects on your marriage in the long run.
You each have qualities that are essential to making your marriage work. Rather than being jealous that your spouse is stronger in an area than you are, work on learning from them. Think about it: You have a built-in teacher who can help you excel in an area you need improvement in. It’s important to take every opportunity you can to grow by watching them.
Spend quality time together.
If you’re like most people, your daily to-do list is long. Dropping your kids off at school, going to work, stopping by the grocery store, going to appointments, picking the kids up from soccer practice … with so much going on, it can be hard to pencil in quality time with your spouse.
Time together as a couple should be scheduled into your daily routine, just like anything else. At the end of the day, it really is that important. Try setting some time aside for an intentional date night without the kids. Be sure to silence your devices and stay in the moment throughout the evening as much as you can. This is the perfect time to connect and focus on each other.
A healthy marriage is worth the fight.
There will be days when you don’t necessarily feel like putting in the effort it takes to strengthen your marriage, but those are the days when the effort is most important. It may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.
You might find that practicing gratitude together is an amazing way to connect on another level. Here are “Five Unique Gratitude Activities to Boost Your Mood.”