Marriages take work. Most would agree that some marriages seem to be less stricken by drama and unhappiness than others, but the truth is that even the best marriages go through rocky times.
The difference between successful marriages and unsuccessful ones is in how bad times are dealt with, how much effort is put in by both parties, and ultimately how much the relationship and the other person matters to you in a loving, intimate way.
The good news is that there are many ways you can cultivate a strong or stronger marriage, and all it takes is some self-reflection and a bit of effort!
A marriage is all about bonds. Obviously, the bond between the two of you is the string that ties everything together. On top of that though, there’s bonds with others like family and friends. How much stress does it cause when one of you doesn’t like your spouse’s best friend, or you think your mother in law is too interfering? A lot, that’s how much! Making time to strengthen these bonds will reap rewards in your marriage. It doesn’t always have to be together, either. Allow your spouse time to bond with his or her friends or family alone sometimes, because it’s good for them to have strong relationships with others. A strong support system makes for a content person, and content people tend to make better spouses!
The tried and tested advice to make time just for each other rings true each and every time, and for good reason. After a few years, it’s easy to become complacent and spend your time together not really paying attention to each other. Maybe you watch TV, or one of you cooks and the other reads. That’s fine, but take some time out to connect properly with each other on a regular basis. Once a week or even a fortnight, have date night. Do something you don’t usually do, and make a rule to ignore your phones for a couple of hours. Cook dinner, sit and talk, try out a new bar, go and watch a theatre show. You’ll soon find that you love catching up on everything and finding new things to talk about, just like the days you were dating.
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Being fully present is important too. It’s easy to become distracted nowadays with so many distractions at our fingertips, but by not fully listening and acknowledging attempts to engage each other, you’ll find that your connection to each other may gradually fade. So next time your spouse wants to tell you about their day, make sure you give them your full attention. This simple act can make such a big difference to the overall satisfaction levels in your marriage.
Perhaps one of the biggest but yet smallest things that keeps a marriage together is respect for each other, both in public and in private. You should listen to each other without interrupting, never talk down to or patronise one another, you’re out and about, don’t put your spouse down or make “jokes” at their expense. If you are fighting, put it aside for that time and act as though everything is ok – you can sort out arguments in the privacy of your own home. When you’re in private, it’s important that even during disagreements or times of conflict, you maintain respect. Work through issues without using insults. Be aware of what their needs are and what they’re sensitive to and about. Generally, just embrace the concepts of forgiveness, understanding, non-judgement and acceptance.
If you’ve just got married and want to do everything you can for your other half, you may want to consider taking out comprehensive life insurance. It means that if anything were to happen to you, your spouse would be able to continue living without suffering financial hardship – a selfless gift for the person you love.