Tag Archive for: healthy marriage

Whether it’s your first holiday as a married couple or not, it’s helpful to have a plan for how you’re going to handle the holidays together. Setting healthy holiday boundaries is key.

  • Set a specific time to talk about how you want to spend the holidays. Remember that you are on the same team and your spouse is your first priority… not your family.

  • As negotiations proceed, keep in mind that it isn’t your job to please everybody. You may make some decisions that disappoint one family or the other. That’s OK. People will adjust.

  • Before making any decisions, make sure all your options are on the table.

  • Once the decision has been made, each spouse should call their family to pass along the information. Be sure to say, “We have decided that…” instead of, “We can’t be with you Christmas day because he/she wants to be with his/her family.” That will do nothing but create problems for you.

  • Avoid committing to any invitations before checking with your spouse, even if you are certain he/she will want to go.

  • Be respectful of each other as you navigate this territory.

  • Finally, entertain the idea of starting your own traditions and consider including the in-laws.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

3 Tips for Satisfaction in Love and Marriage

All couples can intentionally move toward a healthy, long-lasting marriage.

Engaged couples usually have a few expectations about their day-to-day roles and the amount of satisfaction they’ll have in love and marriage. Who will manage the money? Who should initiate romance? What will the arrangements be if or when children arrive? Who will be responsible for housework, laundry and such?

If someone warned you before marriage or in its early stages about some real tension-causing issues most couples face, you might have dismissed any such idea. You probably thought your relationship was different than any other.

After the wedding, things do change, but not always the way anyone thinks it will. When conflict arises, some couples may question whether they have what it takes to keep the marriage afloat. Add unmet expectations, misunderstandings and hurt feelings to the mix and things can get messy. What can couples do when this happens?

“Though people are trained from an early age to analyze problems and create solutions, we must be careful to remember that marriage is a relationship to be nurtured, not a project to complete or a problem to be solved,” says Dr. Gary Chapman, relationship counselor and author of The Five Love Languages.

Chapman wants couples to understand that love is not the only foundation for marriage.

“The tingles,” as he calls it, is that early-stage feeling of euphoric love that lasts only about two years. When that feeling is gone, couples enter the stage of marriage where they must intentionally nurture their love and grow together as a couple. Additionally, they must be prepared for common stumbling blocks that occur.

Chapman offers some guidance to help all couples intentionally move toward a healthy, long-lasting marriage.

  • Understand that allegiances change after marriage, even as you marry into a family. When two people become one, they become each other’s priority. Let the in-laws know this as you make your own decisions together, but honor them in the process. And in-laws – it’s best not to give advice unless someone asks you.

  • Learn your mate’s love language and speak it often. If you don’t know if their love language is gifts, physical touch, acts of service, quality time or words of affirmation, watch them around others or listen to their complaints and their requests for some clues. Complaining about something or asking for something repeatedly can usually indicate what they need from you.

  • Realize that all couples have conflict and struggle with selfishness. Make sure you understand what you expect from each other, before marriage if possible. Be a good listener. Try to understand your mate when you disagree, then affirm what your mate says and share with one another. Don’t try to prove you are right and he/she is wrong. The relationship loses when one person has to win. “Two people arguing goes downhill fast,” Chapman says, “But two listeners build each other up.”

According to Chapman, two selfish, demanding people cannot have a good marriage. It takes time to master the art of loving each other well and learn how to give each other pleasure in a relationship. In the end, the most satisfied couples make an effort to serve and love each other, not themselves.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Marital First Responders

These people can be a friend to your marriage.

If your marriage was in trouble, who would you turn to help you out? Would it be a spiritual leader, female friend or a co-worker? Or maybe a male friend or a family member?

“Results from our online survey indicate that people are most likely to confide in a female friend, followed by a family member, male friend and co-worker,” says Dr. Bill Doherty, professor at the University of Minnesota and developer of the Marital First Responders training. “This is important information because we know from experience that friends and family can be helpful. But, they can also throw gasoline on the fire by taking sides, giving pointed advice or criticizing the other spouse.”

After years of working in the field of marriage and family and seeing this happen, Doherty and his daughter, Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, took action. They came up with the concept of Marital First Responders.

“How many times have friends or family members confided in you that their marriage was in trouble, and you honestly had no idea what to say?” asks Doherty. “I think it is very important for people to be able to find support from those who love them and truly have their best interests at heart.

“A couple of years ago, I found a journal article about Mental Health First Aid Training in Australia. It was started by a couple who was dealing with mental health issues. Within 10 years, 1 percent of the entire adult population in Australia had gone through this training. It has now gone worldwide. I thought, ‘If they can do this for mental health, surely we can do it for marriage.’

“One woman shared that, after she learned of her husband’s affair, she kicked him out and went straight to a divorce lawyer,” Doherty says. “In the midst of the chaos, she confided in a longtime friend about what had happened. The friend shared that 25 years ago she’d had an affair. But instead of divorcing, she and her husband talked about it, got help and worked things out. The woman admired her friend and thought, ‘If they can figure out a way to make it work, I should at least try to make our marriage work.’ Both couples are together today as a result of the helpful words from a trusted friend.”

While marriage may not remedy all social ills, the research is solid that a healthy marriage benefits society at large. Whether you are married or not, you can help your married friends by being a good friend to their marriage.

Also, celebrate and take care of your own marriage and the marriages around you.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Tips for a Highly Happy Marriage

These habits may be just what your marriage needs.

Do you ever feel like you and your spouse are roommates instead of lovers? Does it feel like your marriage is in a constant state of chaos? Have you caught yourself wishing for a life you don’t have?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you aren’t alone.

Truth be told, there are many chaotic marriages out there where both spouses are feeling disconnected and lonely.

When people feel disconnected in their marriage, anxiety, distrust, uncertainty and suspicion often creep in. Couples stop believing they are on the same team and start looking out for themselves. This leads to feeling the need to have the last word, always be right and a “my way or the highway” attitude which certainly doesn’t create an environment where a relationship can thrive and grow.

The first step toward changing the direction of your relationship is to identify what is creating chaos or disconnectedness.

Usual and customary suspects include children, career, community commitments, busyness and phubbing (otherwise known as snubbing your mate in favor of your smartphone).

Clearly, you can’t ship the children off; jobs matter, and it’s unrealistic to think that technology won’t be part of your relationship. However, if you are resolved that something needs to change, it might help you to know what research reveals about how happily married couples keep their marriages out of the ditch.

In her book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Harvard-educated researcher Shaunti Feldhahn uncovered 12 things highly happy couples do.

Here are a few of them that you can apply to your own relationship:

  • Remember the little things. There are a few small actions that matter a lot to men and women. In fact, surveys indicate that consistently doing these five things will likely make your spouse feel deeply cared for.
    • For women: Notice his effort and sincerely thank him for it. Tell him when he does a great job. Mention in front of others something he did well. Show him you desire him sexually. Make it clear that he makes you happy.
    • For guys: Hold her hand. Leave her messages during the day. Put your arm around her. Sincerely tell her she is beautiful. Pull yourself out of a funk.
  • Believe that your spouse is well-intentioned and truly cares about you. It is unlikely they began their day plotting how to make your day miserable.
  • Sometimes going to bed mad is a good thing. When conflict and anger are hard to resolve, sometimes sleeping on it overnight can lead to a quicker resolution.
  • Boss your feelings around. Highly happy couples lead their feelings instead of letting their feelings guide their actions.
  • Cultivate generosity. According to the research, generosity toward one another is one of the greatest contributing factors to a happy marriage.
  • Hang out together. In the beginning, you were friends. Couples who cultivate their friendship over time seem to have happier marriages than couples who do not.
  • Get in over your head. Highly happy couples were willing to put it all on the line for the sake of their marriage. The research showed they have dramatically increased security and happiness.

If you are tired of the chaos and feelings of disconnectedness in your marriage, try incorporating some of these habits into your marriage. Although creating an environment for your marriage to grow and thrive may not happen overnight, these habits could be just what your relationship needs.

Other resources:

Discover Deeper Intimacy In Your Marriage – First Things First

 

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Planning Your Ultimate Date Night

Spending time together has amazing benefits.

Can planning a simple date night really make that much difference in a marriage? That’s a great question!

You probably know about the benefits of family meals and the preventative factors associated with pulling off this feat. For example, your children are less likely to try drugs and alcohol, and they’re more likely to do well in school. Believe it or not, the same thing applies to your marriage.

The Power of Connecting with Each Other

Eating meals together as a family and going on dates with your spouse is so impactful because of connectedness. Connecting in meaningful relationships such as marriage and family tends to make you feel more secure, supported, understood and valued. This usually leads to more positive interactions with loved ones.

Some find it hard to believe that simply going on regular date nights can actually enhance your marriage. Yet studies show that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active or otherwise arousing – from hiking and dancing to travel and card games – enjoy higher levels of relationship quality. Spending time together also counteracts your tendency to take each other for granted.

Regular date nights may potentially reduce unnecessary marital conflict, too. It’s because you’re actually making time to communicate with each other. Why is this a big deal? Because research indicates the average amount of time couples spend talking with each other per week is a whopping 17 minutes!

And, there are even more benefits. Date nights can:

  • Intensify or rekindle that romantic spark,
  • Help sustain the fires of lasting love, AND
  • Strengthen your sense of commitment to one another.

Couples who put one another first, steer clear of other romantic opportunities and cultivate a strong sense of ‘we-ness’ or togetherness are markedly happier than are less-committed couples.

According to the National Marriage Project, couples who spend time together at least once a week are:

  • About three times more likely to say they are “very happy” in their marriage than other couples.
  • More likely to report high satisfaction with their sexual relationship compared to those who spend less couple time together.

Convinced yet?

If you haven’t been on a date in a while, it just might be a really good idea for your marriage. We’ve got plenty of great ideas for planning some creative date nights that don’t have to break the bank.

 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

The Second Half of Marriage

Staying together through life's ups and downs is possible.

When the kids leave the nest and are almost off the payroll, that second half of marriage is within sight. You finally have time to breathe. But suddenly you have questions…

  • What in the heck will we do with the second half of our marriage?
  • How will we handle the challenges of aging parents? Crises with the children or unexpected medical issues?
  • What about retirement, finances and the like?

While some couples look forward to the years ahead, others feel trapped. They’re unhappy in a marriage that is less than fulfilling… they wonder if this is all there is. For them, the idea of the second half is quite scary.

So… what does a thriving marriage look like in the later years? 

Gary Chapman and Harold Myra interviewed “second half” couples for their book, Married and Still Loving It: The Joys and Challenges of the Second Half. They found few couples who had escaped the unexpected challenges of life. However, some traits appeared to be significant between marriages that flourish in the second half and those that don’t. Laughter and acceptance, resilience and faith seemed to make the difference.

Whether the second half is just around the corner or you find yourself dreaming about it, you can prepare for it now. Chapman and Myra quote Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier’s book, The Adventure of Living:

“To make a success of one’s marriage, one must treat it as an adventure, with all the riches and difficulties that are involved in an adventure shared with another person.”

Even if your marriage is stuck in a rut, you can turn it into an adventure.

After years of marriage, it’s easy to focus on the differences between you and your spouse. But these differences aren’t necessarily bad things. The key is to figure out how to make your differences assets instead of liabilities.

Thriving couples learned to accept their spouse and were even able to laugh about their differences. This goes a long way in finding fulfillment in your marriage. Chapman writes, “While differences can be deadly, they can also be delightful.” 

What about the kids?

While many couples have terrific relationships with their adult children, others encounter one crisis after another. Chapman and Myra encourage these parents to maintain a balance between self-preservation and self-sacrifice. Many marriages suffer when they become so focused on helping the children that they lose themselves. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help to overcome these challenges together.

Despite encountering unexpected job loss, illness, family crises and difficulty adjusting to retirement, thriving second-half couples kept putting one foot in front of the other. Their commitment to marriage enabled them to stand together through life’s ups and downs.

And finally, these thriving couples said their faith was central to it all. That includes working through personality differences and all of the other challenges they have faced.

Although you might be anxious about what the future holds in the second half of marriage, Chapman and Myra encourage couples to embrace the challenge and to enter this season with great anticipation.

Other blogs:

How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

7 Ways to Deal With Adult Children Who Make Poor Decisions

Marriage Course: Understand Your Spouse & Deepen Your Relationship

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

The Wholehearted Marriage

You can create safety by how you respond to each other.

Greg Smalley first met his bride-to-be during a rather embarrassing moment. Greg had fallen asleep in class. Erin, who sat behind him, decided to have a little fun. She shook his arm and said, “Stand up.” Greg looked at her with a dazed look. Again she said, “Stand up; the professor asked you to pray. Stand up!”

Greg stood up and proceeded to pray. Then he realized that everybody in the class seemed to be laughing at him. When he finally sat down, the professor said, “Greg, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but could you wait to close us in prayer until I have finished lecturing?” When Greg looked at Erin, her face was red from laughing so hard.

“At that moment I thought to myself, this girl has real potential,” says Dr. Smalley, co-author of The Wholehearted Marriage. “I figured marriage with her would be quite the adventure.”

Erin and Greg have been married since 1992, and the practical jokes continue to this day.

“My motto for our marriage is, ‘expect the unexpected,’ because I never know when Erin is up to something,” Smalley says. “We have had a lot of laughs, but we have also learned some very valuable lessons throughout our marriage. I would have to say that one of the most important things we have learned is that the state of our hearts is foundational for a healthy marriage.”

Smalley contends there are a lot of people who live life with a closed heart. The impact of that on a marriage can be devastating.

When people feel emotionally unsafe in a relationship, they will close their hearts and disconnect. People usually describe them as self-centered, insensitive and mean.

“I believe couples should strive to make their marriage the safest place on earth,” Smalley states. “When people feel safe, they naturally open their hearts and intimacy occurs almost effortlessly. When a spouse feels emotionally safe, he knows he can open up and reveal his true thoughts and feelings and his wife will still love, understand, accept and value him.”

One of the ways to create safety in a wholehearted marriage is to recognize your mate’s value.

“I often ask couples what they value about each other and encourage them to write it down,” Smalley shares. “When you are really angry, you can pull out that list and remind yourself of why you value your mate.”

Another key to creating safety is to understand there will be times when your spouse irritates you somehow.

How you respond can either create or destroy safety in your marriage.

“When couples refuse to discuss sensitive issues until they both have had time to calm down and think about their own contribution and expectations in the particular situation, the outcome is usually much better,” Smalley says. “Most people think along the lines of win/lose. If one person loses, the whole team loses. In safe marriages, the goal is to find a solution where both people feel good about the outcome.”

 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***