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How to Have a Happier, Healthier Marriage

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC

Most of us imagine a lovely, romance-filled future ahead of us when we say “I do”!  However, once the honeymoon is over and we return to a life of work, paying bills, caring for children, and simply getting by, we may find ourselves asking, “What became of my happily ever after? I no longer recognize this person anymore!” But there are things you can do to keep the fire burning in your marriage.

Here are some strategies for a happier and healthier marriage.

1) Cultivate interdependence rather than codependency

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t have your own goals and objectives. Instead of suppressing them, nurture them and utilize your alone time to work on yourself and your desires. Complement your spouse but don’t cultivate an environment of codependency. Your individuality brings taste to the marriage, and keeping it alive and intact is essential for your inherent peace and your marriage’s health.

Within the marriage context, interdependence entails a balance of self and your spouse and children. You keep your commitment to being present for your family and meeting their physical and emotional needs without neglecting your own.

 Both you and your spouse shouldn’t peg your happiness on one another. Don’t seek sentiments of self-worthiness from your partner! Let it come naturally. It will preserve your sense of self-esteem. However, always be there for your partner in times of need. Interdependence allows you to make choices without fear of the reaction from your partner.

2) Love and Commit.

Love is, at its essence, a decision to devote oneself to someone else. It is much more than a transitory emotion depicted on TV, the big screen, women’s magazines, and fairy tales. Feelings pass, but a sincere commitment lasts a lifetime, which constitutes a strong marriage. Marriage is a decision to fight for one another through the great and terrible times. Commitment is simple when things seem to be going well. True love, on the other hand, is demonstrated by being dedicated even amidst suffering.

3) Communicate constructively-Use “I feel statements.”

“You’re such a jerk.” You always expect me to do the dishes.”

“You never stop working. You place a higher value on your career than on your family.” “You’re such a knucklehead. You’re under the impression that money grows on trees.” Does this ring a bell? Arguments over chores, priorities, and finances aren’t uncommon. They are, in fact, daily issues for most spouses. That is precisely why “I feel-statements” are so crucial. It’s just as essential how you talk as what you say. 

If you are arguing with your partner, don’t go all-out on them or blame them. Instead, try expressing yourself using the pronoun “I.” You take responsibility for your emotions by stating “I feel” rather than “You always.” Then, the other person won’t feel like you are blaming them for everything.

4) Do things together

While it’s crucial to not be completely reliant on your spouse to keep your marriage joyful, it’s equally necessary to share everyday experiences. Adding new hobbies and experiences to your marriage can help it become stronger.

You and your spouse mature together when you enjoy unique passions and hobbies or master a skill together. Take a cooking class, hit the gym, or take tennis lessons together and see the magic happen in your marriage. Couples that are in love have a zest for making milestones together. Shared experiences constantly enrich a couple’s connection, whether it’s a passion for travel, a strong desire to start a family together, or a commitment to a mutual cause.

5) Make your spouse a priority.

The most dangerous pathogen of all is taking your partner for granted. Unfortunately, it’s common for couples to become complacent once they’ve gotten used to each other, and expectations begin to arise.

You must spend quality time with your spouse even if your children seem to be demanding most of your time. Have a date night, a romantic getaway just for the two of you, time to snuggle, and a chance to talk about something besides school, bills, sports, and work. When last did you ask your spouse ‘how they were doing? Your small kids are an essential product of your love for one another. However, one day they’ll start their own families, and they’ll be gone. It’ll be just the both of you, once again. Try to put each other first right now for a seamless future relationship.

Marriage is a journey, not a destination. Therefore, always strive to find innovative ways to keep it healthy and fulfilling.

If you or someone you know is struggling and would like to speak to a licensed professional, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today!

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