“For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health…” These are possibly the most famous words from the traditional wedding vow.
They perfectly sum up how all romantic relationships are bound to go through ups and downs — nobody is exempt. Even if you consider your spouse as your best friend or soulmate, there will always come a point where your relationship will be challenged.
Some relationships fail mainly because both parties are not prepared for the worst. While there are indeed situations where separation simply proves to be the most practical solution, couples have a duty to do everything in their power to save their relationship before separation becomes an option.
The truth is no matter how deeply in love you were with your spouse, staying in love is an ongoing task that both of you should work on together. A strong, healthy relationship is one where you can…
- Freely agree to disagree and get into a discussion of different beliefs without feeling insecure or afraid to hurt each other’s feelings
- Continue enjoying individual interests and maintain outside relationships
- Communicate honestly and openly
If you want to have and maintain this kind of relationship with your spouse, here are some tips.
Keep communication lines open.
Communication is a crucial element in any relationship, especially marriages. When a couple maintains a positive connection with each other, they will feel safe and happy. This connection can be nurtured by keeping communication lines open.
Good communication is fundamental to conflict resolution. If you and your spouse do not feel comfortable openly communicating your thoughts and feelings, tension will eventually become a conflict. If you avoid talking about issues in your relationship, conflicts will be further compounded until they are already too difficult to solve.
To make sure that you maintain good communication, practice the following:
- Tell each other what you feel, think, and need. Don’t guess.
- Take note of non-verbal cues.
- Listen and understand. Remember that merely hearing is not necessarily listening. If your spouse feels that you are uninterested in what they have to say, they will stop communicating altogether.
Spend quality time with each other.
Many couples are guilty of not being able to spend quality time with each other. Even if you are living under the same roof, sometimes, things just get in the way. One may become too busy taking care of the kids, while the other has work to finish. It’s also possible that you’re both too tired after the day’s work that you want to be left alone to relax.
Spending quality time together does not have to be complicated. It will help to spare at least an hour every day talking to each other or doing something you both love. For instance, have a drink (tea, milk, or wine) before bedtime while talking about how your day went. You can also watch an episode of your favorite TV series. If you have kids, tuck them in bed together. During the weekend, work on a project or go on a date.
By spending quality time together, you keep the fire of love and passion alight. When you stop having fun doing simple things, that’s how the fire is slowly snuffed out.
- Maintain physical intimacy.
Physical intimacy doesn’t just mean sex. Affectionate touch, such as kissing and hugging, even the simple holding-hands, is also important. If you don’t maintain affectionate physical intimacy, sex stops being meaningful. This can make any or both of you think that something’s wrong with the relationship or worse, that you are or your spouse is unwanted.
Touch may be simple, but it can mean a lot. It promotes gentleness and affection, so make sure you don’t withhold it.
- Master the art of compromise.
Marriage should be a give and take relationship and there’s no other way around that. To make sure that you don’t just give or take, recognize your needs and that of your spouse as well. When you are aware of your needs, it will be easier to get into a compromise. Let go of things that you can live without if it means giving way to your spouse’s needs.
Furthermore, don’t let pride get the better of you. Do not focus on winning arguments, but rather, work together to respectfully resolve conflict.
- Understand that there will be ups and downs.
In marriage, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s crucial that both of you are prepared for challenges. More importantly, you should be prepared to weather through the challenges together. Support each other, be open to changes, and always assess conflicts before reacting angrily.
Ultimately, the keys to maintaining a healthy relationship are respect, communication, and compromise. If you can master all these, it will be easier to solve conflicts as they arise.