By Charlene Roth
Many people believe finding the right partner is all it takes to build a healthy marriage that stands the test of time. But the truth is that every marriage takes work. Marriage problems are incredibly common, especially, as Reader’s Digest notes, among couples who hold unrealistic expectations about what it takes to maintain a happy relationship. Could your marriage use some work? Below, we’ve outlined the core components of a healthy marriage and how to make them work for you!
Good communication skills are paramount in any partnership. When you and your partner are able to talk openly and honestly, as well as feel heard, you will be able to work through anything. However, when communication breaks down, frustration, tension, and mistrust can take over. Learning how to communicate with your partner effectively can be tough, so consider talking to a marriage therapist to learn how to avoid disagreements and misunderstandings by adopting good communication skills.
Keep in mind that feelings of stress and overwhelm can hurt your ability to communicate with your spouse. A cluttered home will only exacerbate these issues. Easing stress and opening the lines of communication with your partner could be as simple as cleaning up your home, getting rid of clutter, and removing that bad energy!
There is an undeniable business side to marriage. This side of your partnership may involve budgeting, making spending decisions, delegating household chores, running errands, raising children, or caring for pets. You can think of you and your spouse as business partners, juggling all of those demands and responsibilities that keep your household running smoothly. As Scary Mommy explains, teamwork is essential here. Resentment can mount when one person feels overworked and underappreciated.
Friendship is another essential element in any happy marriage. Beyond lovers and partners working together to run a household, you should also be friends. You should enjoy each other’s company, even when you’re not doing anything particularly fun. You should want to do things together! At the same time, it’s also important to set boundaries — as you would in any friendship. Healthy boundaries will help you maintain your sense of self, your autonomy, and your freedom to do what makes you happy without relying on the opinions of your spouse.
As you and your partner navigate the ups and downs of marriage, patience and forgiveness are key. Nobody is perfect! Are you guilty of holding your partner to impossibly high standards? Try to relax your expectations and practice patience when something doesn’t go as you wanted. Allow your partner to be him or herself and learn to live with their flaws — everyone has them! Forgiveness goes right alongside this. If your partner makes a mistake, try to respond with patience and forgiveness.
Empathy, or the ability to acknowledge and understand how others are feeling, is the key to effectively communicating and maintaining patience with your partner. Verywell Mind explains that learning to listen is a critical element of developing empathy in your relationship. Try to put aside your own emotions and opinions and truly listen to what your partner is saying to you—the ability to regulate your own emotions is an important component of empathy. Pay attention to body language cues that may help you pick up on the emotions that your partner is exhibiting. Finally, realize that you can have an impact on how your partner feels by identifying what they need and offering assistance.
No marriage is perfect. While some marriages may appear perfect from the outside, what you are seeing when you observe a happy couple is the result of hard work, patience, and commitment. Building a healthy marriage is all about creating an environment where you and your spouse can thrive as partners but also as individuals!