Everyone wants a relationship with their significant other that is emotionally healthy and fulfilling. Building and maintaining a partnership may not come easily or naturally. Here are some tips that will help you protect your marriage both before AND after the going gets rough;
This is can be both obvious and really hard. But taking the time to speak about anything and everything will help foster intimacy and trust. Whatever issues arise there has to be conversations about those issues; avoidance and assumptions will drive a wedge in any relationship. Most people will have arguments or contentious conversations where neither side truly hears the other. The ability to take a breath and return to a topic when cooler heads prevail may allow you the space to express your feelings in a calmer more rational way. Conversely it will also give you an opportunity to listen to your ex with a more open mind.
The hectic pace of modern life, with work and family obligations means most people are pressed for time and have very little to spare. Planned date nights are fun and good if you can have weekly or monthly activities for just the two of you. But remember quality time with your partner doesn't always need to be elaborate, but deliberate. Carve out a designated spot on your calendar during which you can do something together, whether its taking a walk, watching a TV show or even running errands.
Have Clear Boundaries
When it comes to the big things in life know where your partner stands. Whether it's sex, money or parenting styles being fully informed about what your spouse finds acceptable is important. This doesn't mean that you have to be in perfect agreement every step of the way; but respecting the other person’s position and finding common ground is an absolute must. It is the responsibility of each person to relay this information in an assertive manner; there is no room for passive aggressive behavior.
Living In The Present
Hurt feelings in a relationship are pretty much inevitable, be it a small argument or the much larger pain of infidelity. An honest evaluation of the causes and repercussions of the situation is necessary for healing and growth. Immersing in the pain and refusing to let go will ultimately undermine your marriage with increased resentment. A lack of reflection and personal responsibility can waste precious time spent on healing. The timeline for “moving on” is highly personal and will depend on many factors. Speaking with a licensed mental health professional can help couples maneuver through the stages and phases of an affair and/or barriers in a relationship.
Keeping Counseling as an Option
Fortunately, societal ignorance and shame associated with seeking counseling has declined. Marriage counseling with a therapist who is a good fit for both partners can open the way for healthy communication and gaining insights on how to resolve longstanding, difficult issues. I recommend couples seek counseling prior to getting married and as many times as needed after getting married as it is just as important and necessary as going for individual counseling. Some couples are apprehensive because they fear increased arguing; however, if this is true for you and your partner then there are likely some things that could use some processing. The goal is to learn to listen to one another, increase mutual respect and make a concerted effort to understand one another.