It would seem that we live in the age of divorce. Keeping a marriage healthy, as the cliché goes, is a lot of hard work. But as relationships develop and evolve over time, it's essential to understand that keeping a marriage strong can potentially become harder as the years go by.
What keeps a marriage strong? What can you do to improve your relationship and create more meaning to go with it? Keep reading to find out.
From the moment you say "I do," it's about remembering those vows you made; but also understand that a lot of what happens during a marriage is all about one major word: change.
Keeping a marriage strong isn't about being the same person that you were 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. It's about remembering you are a couple, but you are two different people.
It's something we've done as a species: we evolve. As such, when you want to build a solid foundation for a marriage, it's important that you remember to keep your mind open. A strong marriage is built on a sturdy foundation, and part of this means that we need to get it into our heads that people do change.
Preventing divorce is quite a strong term, especially if you feel you are doing everything in your power to keep the marriage intact. This could very well mean that you are papering over the cracks in ways that you never realized. If you look at divorce as the final nail in the coffin, and you do everything you can to keep everything intact, you might be going the wrong way about it.
Instead, preventing divorce is about a lot of hard work. When you get married, life can begin full of bliss, and then, things change, certain aspects come into our lives, and a routine can be built or broken down. Preventing divorce is, ideally, about one primary thing: communication.
Far from it being a last-ditch attempt to save a marriage, actually opening the doors of communication and listening to each other, whether it's in a setting with our counseling professionals or just taking the opportunity to sit down with each other, gives both sides to open up.
It's important your significant other knows what's going on in your life, what you are thinking about, and how you feel. People change. But when people don't communicate these changes, it's hardly a surprise that people think they have grown apart. You should make it a point to have meaningful conversations, especially when there are children or step children involved.
Passion is one of those things that can disappear during the course of a marriage. And while you might think that being more loving is a little bit on the simple side, when you think back to those early days when what you had was pure and unadulterated, wasn’t this pure and simple?
When you think about regaining that sense of passion, it's not about looking at the other person, but it's about looking at yourself. Sometimes we have a fear of intimacy, or we have a little voice inside that tells us to stop being so compassionate...
Other times, our personal anxiety or depression gets in the way of giving our partner the attention they need. As we start to break down the walls within ourselves, we could find that we've been holding up so much to protect ourselves. Look at your partner, what they do, and how you admire them. Ultimately, you got married for a reason, and if it was a foundation of mutual respect but things have changed, what has changed?
We as humans can get overly complicated, so if we start to break down the pretenses and look at our partner, and begin to realize how they balance out the relationship, we can naturally our regain our admiration for them - sometimes, it's all about perspective.
Marriage is in many ways, a pressure cooker. As such, when the other person has what you perceive as flaws, this can cause tension in the relationship. But, when we fall in love with someone we have to accept that there are unavoidably pros and cons. There's no such thing as the perfect person, but whether you are perfect for each other. It's all about that balancing act. Sometimes we need to look for those flaws in order to work on them, other times we need to understand how to make the most of them. Rather than nagging, or pestering someone to change a little something about their behavior, which is incredibly naive, we've got to welcome these flaws openly.
Communication, as already mentioned, is one of the cornerstones of a successful marriage, but being calm is an aspect that is very much underestimated. Tempers can fly, and we can say things that we don't mean, especially when we feel under the microscope, feeling various pressures, or we've just had a bad day.
Learning to communicate is about saying how we feel is about sharing and making small talk, as well as listening. Therapy is ideal for learning these habits the right way. But when it comes to communicating correctly, it's about exposing (and controlling) ourselves. Know that some of those hidden shared moments we can have with our partners are rocket fuel for your marriage. This is something that we don't necessarily put much importance on. In fact, keeping calm and communicating in a relationship isn't just about learning how to voice our frustrations in a mild-mannered way, it's about ensuring that sense of calm flows through the relationship.
Problems arise inside and outside of your relationship, but it's not just about dealing with them in our own way. We need to start working together to find out how the other person perceives it and working towards a common goal. It's about a few simple steps.
First, define the problem and what might be a good solution. Then you need to plan a time to discuss the matter. Counseling or couples therapy can work for the bigger relationship issues because it provides an impartial environment for both to let off exactly how you feel.
From there, the third step is about talking, as well as listening. Listening is often difficult because we might hear things that we don't necessarily want to.
Our partner could describe our bad habits or actions we take that hurt their feelings - this might not be music to our ears. But when we work together as a couple to solve the problems, it creates elements of understanding and empathy, which are a vital foundation for effective communication. Healing through communication is a theme you might find prevelant throughout our blog posts, and that's because of how powerful it really is.
It's established that relationships evolve. Growing as a couple means growing with your partner. It's not about staying the same, but as relationships go on, we have to think about the journey we've been on.
In addition, we should consider the journey we will go on. Growing with your partner is something that enhances both your lives. Growing isn't just about doing different things and going down different pathways, it's about both of you having the commitment to learn and improve. That idea of settling can turn into stagnation.
There are simple ways to do this: you can make time to talk about your relationship, and treat it like a third person. Growing together means resolving those issues that have been hanging in the air. Many people feel that they are unable to rock the boat, or they want a quiet life without any change, but this is the opposite of growing.
Remember, a healthy relationship is all about the two of you working together. It's not about individual goals, you need to create something that's more important than the two of you but still remain true to yourselves as individuals. Because life gets in the way, we can get caught up in other aspects of daily life that we don't know who we are.
When we lose track of who we are, it's unsurprising that people go down different paths. Growing together works to resolve this.
Marriages can get to the point where it feels like two individuals are passing like ships in the night. Creating rituals that allow you to spend quality time together gives you the opportunity to grow the marriage but also create new memories.
Shared meaning is one of the great ways to improve a marriage. There is no point in having two people living separate lives under the same roof, and this is where creating a sense of shared meaning becomes crucial.
Life is all about a sense of perspective; and when a couple has a perspective or a vision, this can create meaning throughout the entire marriage. Having that opportunity to focus on the big picture means that we can forgo some of the smaller speed bumps.
It is inevitable that every couple has ups and downs, but when we have a shared dream, this helps us sweat the small stuff. Once you decide on your shared goal, taking time to process it can bring you both closer. This is what they call emotional attunement.
As well as this, starting to create shared rituals, so you spend time together, allows you to grow. It's not just about a date night on occasion. But by creating a daily or weekly ritual where it is the two of you, despite all the other distractions in life, and you spend that all-important quality time together.
If you find yourself in need of some ouside help, consider REID Counseling Group. We understand that making a marriage strong is not something that can be done overnight. It takes a lot of work. And for those couples that have found themselves drifting apart, either due to stagnation, or more severe issues, couples therapy can help both sides bring their feelings to the forefront.
It's important to note that if you find that the doors are communication are shut, you must find a way to reopen them. Some couples find that they've never been able to communicate fully. This could be for fear of speaking their minds or realizing things that they didn't want to confront before.
Keeping a marriage healthy isn't just about everything being rosy, it's about working through problems together as a couple. Once you do that, you can start to remember how you felt for each other before, embrace each other's flaws, but also heal and grow with your partner.
If you are both ready to work together on this, find ways to improve your marriage, repair the cracks, and move forward as a stronger unit, consider booking a session with us.
Keeping a marriage strong isn't about putting a bandaid over the issue, it's about exposing the wound, so it can truly heal. Therapy can work wonders for couples that either need a fine-tuning or have to start all over again. Don't ever feel that it's too late. To learn more about relationship therapy click here.