As with all relationships, marriage requires constant attention and maintenance. Throughout the course of a marriage, spouses often cycle through periods of drifting apart and growing close together again, with spells of tension and boredom in between. Most married couples -- if not all of them -- probably get sick of being together at some point. Low points in a relationship do not necessarily mean it is doomed. Whether you're recently married, or just thinking about the future, there are actions you can take to keep your marriage fresh.
Married couples minimize the chances of getting bored with one another by occasionally spending time away from each other. They nurture relationships with others, enjoy separate hobbies and embrace their individual identities. Spouses do not define themselves only as husband or wife. They are also parents, employees, students, friends, siblings and neighbors. Dr. John Grohol, founder of Psych Central, states in his article, "5 Secrets to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage," that people rarely have the same needs, desires and goals in life. Supporting each other's individual paths in life is necessary in a sustainable relationship.
When they are not spending time apart, happily married couples spend quality time together. Togetherness is not merely watching the same television program or sleeping in the same bed. Staying connected requires them to engage with each other. People in healthy marriages schedule time to do things they enjoy as a couple, such as going dancing or hiking. Connectedness also means that people comfort one another during times of loss, care for each other during illness and celebrate successes together. Husbands and wives are not merely in a state of love -- they are deliberately engaging in acts of love.
Interactions that are open, honest, respectful and assertive help married couples avoid getting sick of each other. Healthy communication means sharing feelings of frustration and disappointment, identifying problems, negotiating and compromising. It also means that spouses are committed to listening to one another. Consider a husband that is upset with his wife, for instance. He can approach her with his concerns. She can hear what he has to say and possibly apologize. They may even find themselves at an impasse, and decide to seek advice from others. The willingness to communicate in healthy ways is much more productive than the husband festering in silence, only to punish her in a passive-aggressive manner, for instance by "forgetting" her birthday.
When married couples do find themselves tiring of one another, they often analyze their relationships. They assess the levels of difficulty and discomfort in their marriages and compare these to the benefits. Spouses recognize that the positive qualities outweigh the negatives, understanding that relationships are complex and dynamic. In an article for Psychology Today titled,"The Best Kept Secret to Highly Successful Couples," Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D, emphasizes that the most satisfied couples are willing to support each other without asking for anything in return. In these cases, partners' investments in their relationships are somewhat balanced, without one-sided giving or taking all the time.
- Schmitz, Charles D. and Elizabeth A. Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage, Briarcliff Publishing, 2008.
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