Marriage: 3 Essential Elements of a Healthy Relationship With Your Spouse
Marriage—Falling in love is easy; staying in love requires effort. When the “swept-away” feeling of a young romance fades and you are brought back down to Earth by the day-to-day realities of careers, kids, obligations, and responsibilities, focusing on these three elements can help you maintain a long-lasting, healthy relationship with your spouse.
3 Key Elements to a Healthy Marriage
If you think back to your Psychology 101 class and the developmental stages proposed by Erik Erikson, you recall that in the first year of life, it is essential for children to have the opportunity to form trusting bonds with their primary caregivers. From the earliest years of life, trust is the foundation of all healthy attachments and its primacy continues into adult relationships.
Trust between spouses means honesty. Trust means doing what you say you will do. Turst means not making promises that you can’t keep. Trust is being there through thick and thin. Trust is loving someone even when they are acting unlovable. Trust is knowing that your spouse will love you not just in spite of your flaws, but because of them.
Honesty breeds trust. Honesty has everything to do with telling the truth so that your spouse can count on what you say, but it also has much to do with trusting your spouse to be able to handle your words as you express them directly. A sure sign of stress in a relationship is when spouses walk on eggshells around each other, afraid to say what they really think or express in words how they honestly feel. When partners passively allow their spouse’s needs to override theirs, or aggressively bulldoze through conversations in order to get their own needs met first, they damage their relationships. Passive aggressive communication—where individuals express anger in covertly hostile ways—can be even more damaging to relationships; when couples fail to communicate honestly and directly with one another, they lose trust and cause long-term relationship damage.
Feeling heard and understood is a universal need. Within healthy relationships, it is a must-have. Good listening is about giving someone else the floor and truly putting your own thoughts, opinions, judgments, and automatic responses aside while you genuinely tune in to what he is expressing. Good listening involves your body—good eye contact, standing close—and your mind. Really listening to a partner has as much to do with picking up on what is not being said as it does hearing spoken words. Good listening is a gift that makes a person feel valued and worthwhile. Good listening is a challenge, because in our daily, hectic, over-booked lives, we often barely have the time to listen to the thoughts in our own heads, much less time to hear what is going on in someone else’s lives. Yet listening is the way human beings connect and is an essential foundation for a healthy relationship with a spouse.
What elements have been essential in your relationship with your spouse?
Signe Whitson is a Liscensed Social Worker, a mom, a wife and Chief Operating Officer of the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute. Signe is also a freelance writer for My Baby Clothes. The summer line of baby clothes, tutus and baby hats is a fabulous choice for any baby or toddler.