Marriage

Top 5 Tips for a Healthy Marriage

My husband and I have been through so much in the past (almost) 5 years of marriage.  We have bought a house, gone through two pregnancies, switched jobs, and also had countless fights and petty arguments.  Together we have learned that a healthy marriage does not just automatically happen.  It takes work – so much work!  It also takes personal development and a desire (on the part of both spouses) to have a healthy marriage.  There is a certain amount of sacrifice on the part of both as well because putting another person ahead of yourself is necessary but never easy.  Although we are far from experts, read on for our top 5 tips for a healthy marriage!

1. Take a deep breath

Tough times in marriage are inevitable!  For me, this often happens when I feel overwhelmed, the kids are screaming, and there’s just too much to do.  These are the moments when my hubby will (again, inevitably!) ask me for a favor or for help with something.  And I blow my top, snapping at him and shredding any remaining self-control that I have left.  I immediately revert to the same-old destructive dialogue in my head about past arguments and this fuels a new, typically heated, argument.  Yipes.

Through much practice, prayer, and discipline, I have learned to identify my triggers and take a deep breath in that moment of frustration.  Visualize breathing in peace and breathing out stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.  This helps keep me centered and gives me a greater ability to see beyond the likely pettiness of the situation and to stay focused on the big picture.  I have extremely perfectionist tendencies so this has been a huge challenge for me but I’m learning to let go of the small stuff in favor of a healthy marriage.

2. Be vulnerable

Walls.  They are essential for houses but terrible for healthy marriages.  Through much counseling and self-reflection, I have become aware that I am a master builder of walls.  My wall is triple reinforced and just as fake as George Bluth’s wall.  Although reinforced walls offer protection, emotional walls create distance and I realized that this is exactly what I was doing in my relationship.  I was creating distance and emotional disconnect from the very person that I longed to connect with the most.

At some point in my life, I decided that I needed to create walls to protect myself.  It’s very possible that this was necessary and useful at that point in my life however it’s incredibly destructive in the context of a healthy marriage.  A lifetime of wall building is tough to immediately overcome however awareness is the first step.  I began overcoming it by telling my husband that vulnerability was tough for me but it was something I really wanted to work on.  I can’t say that the wall is completely torn down yet, but I can say that I can finally see him peeking through and that we are both committed to the process.

3. Healthy marriages require forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those “easier said than done” situations.  In theory, forgiving and forgetting sounds easy but in practice, it is one of the toughest parts of marriage.  I think that forgiving in marriage is especially tough because you see this person on a daily basis and it’s very easy (and tempting!) to keep score.  “You never pick the kids up from daycare.”  “You never follow through with what you say you will.” “You always come home late from work.”  No matter how petty, people love to keep score!  Keeping score worked for Toby and Pam but it most definitely does not work for healthy marriages!

Let go of the petty arguments by taking a moment to forgive your spouse.  For anything and everything that may have happened in the past.  Remember when I said this was an “easier said than done” situation?  Forgiveness is so much harder than it seems!  It is a daily choice that you make in favor of having a healthy marriage versus carrying a false sense of being right.  Choose to let go of the past and you will be amazed at how bright the future is!

4. Laugh!

When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together?  Laughter has a tendency to disappear when walls go up.  Think back to the last fight you had with your spouse.  Did you laugh?  Probably not.  Laughter brings people together like nothing else can and is vitally important for a healthy marriage.  Laughing through the tough times is one of the best ways to grow closer as a couple.

Find ways to share joy and laughter as a couple.  Our favorite source of laughter is our children because their antics never seem to end!  Finding humor in the moment also dispels the stress that children also inevitably bring!  Pets are another awesome source of laughter.  Movies and TV shows also significantly increase the laughter factor in our house.

5. Get a hobby

Probably not what you were expecting for my final tip, was it?  Hobbies are important because they give us a creative outlet and sense of fulfillment.  They also teach us life lessons.  Having hobbies enables us to tap into a deeper sense of ourselves and creates connection with who we truly are as a person.  Anytime you connect with who you are as a person, you learn more about yourself and can therefore contribute to a marriage on a much deeper level.

This one is challenging for my husband and I because we have incredibly different hobbies.  Despite our different interests, we each find fulfillment and meaning in what we do and this contributes to a happier, healthier marriage.  Hobbies can be useful for bringing you together as a couple if you have similar interests.  Taking an interest in your spouse’s hobby is also a great way to grow closer as a couple.   Although our hobbies are on completely different planets, I am trying to learn more about my husband’s hobbies so we can spend more time together and strengthen our marriage.

There you have it – our top 5 tips for a healthy marriage.  I sincerely hope that you were able to take something useful away from this post and if so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!  Maybe you have your own tips for a healthy marriage and I’d love to hear about those too!

8 Comments

  • Iny

    Nice tips, good one about forgiveness too.. ..in marriage I have learnt to be selfless, forgiving, welcoming, and above all to be prayerful

  • Marianne Daw

    Amanda, I have so many things I am working through at this time, so I don’t want you to think at anytime I am putting what you have written down or that my life is or ever has been perfect. I have been very lucky and am going through some very depressing health problems as well as still grieving for my Mom. Don’t take anything personal, just know I had to look at my life and get some things off of my chest. I wish I could look at my blessings instead of my troubles, but right now it is a very hard time for me. The following is what I originally wrote to you, but was afraid I was being snobby, when truthfully I have been sobbing. Thanks for listening.

    Soon approaching our 49th Anniversary we are at a place in our relationship where we understand each other quite well. I will admit that in our early years we were so in love with being in love it was like our dreams had come true and through the years it has only grown. Of the two of us I am probably be the “most needy.” And Rick was always there for me. I was more outgoing and involved in many organizations, groups and had a lot of close friends. It was like the happier I was, the happier he was. It has always been that way. And me, I was living a dream with the only man I had ever loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I would get homesick and the girls and I would spend time at my folks. My folks loved Rick like a son and he quickly became a member of the family. Rick was in all my siblings weddings. I know I am not making sense and am rambling on. The only promise I asked of him was to always take me home for Christmas and we never missed one. I feel blessed that the man I married is Rick. Tari read once that your spouse wasn’t your best friend, because marriage made for a deeper relationship than friendship. For years I could follow that way of thinking, that Rick and I had something deeper than friendship, more intimate, but as the years have gone by and our closeness grew, so did our friendship and now we are both to each other. I admire your honesty and the depth you share in your blogs. I’m not saying everything was perfect for Rick and I every minute of every day, but at this point in our lives Rick has given me a life I couldn’t have even dreamed of. Through every illness or problem he has been by my side and holds me up when I think I can’t go on. I am dealing with so many health problems right now, I don’t know where to turn, but whichever direction I take, I know who will be right there by my side.

    • Amanda Bradley

      Hi Marianne! Thank you so much for sharing this truly intimate view of marriage. The media tends to portray marriage in a very unrealistic light and there is a misconception that marriage doesn’t take work and it is always picture perfect. Your beautiful testimony shows that it is actually the imperfections which make marriage a precious gift. Our spouses see us at our very worst and yet make the decision to faithfully stay by our sides and vice versa. I know that you’ve faced tough challenges recently and sometimes it can be hard to understand why things happen the way they do. In those moments, all we can really do is count our blessings and Rick is certainly one of yours!! Give yourself grace and time to heal.

  • Ani Kay

    I love this list. I agree with all of it. My husband and I get very heated very quickly. We both need to learn to take a step back and take a good long deep breath. Also, my husband is a stay at home dad, and I keep telling him he needs a hobby. I completely agree with the importance of a creative outlet.

    • Amanda Bradley

      Hi Ani! Taking a step back in the heat of the moment is so tough to do but can help prevent saying things you later regret. Sometimes walking away and coming back later is the best thing you can do. I really noticed a difference in my marriage when I started taking time for myself. It’s a great way to re-charge your batteries and come back refreshed. Hopefully he finds something soon! Thank you so much for commenting!! 🙂

  • Tiffany

    Good tips. I am not yet married but I’m living with my fiance. Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ Hope you can check out our Instagram Auditor at Phlanx.com, where it helps you check your Instagram account for fake followers and likes!

    Xoxo,
    Tiffany

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