Hunting for treasure and saving dolphins are habits of a healthy marriage, believe it or not! Improving your marriage can be as simple as talking about your daily highs and lows, or as complicated as learning effective conflict resolution skills.
One of the absolute best ways to improve your marriage is to learn about your spouse’s “love language.” If you haven’t checked out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, do it today. It’ll change your marriage overnight.
These habits of healthy marriages are for newlyweds, mature married couples, and even couples who just started dating. In fact, these habits are probably BEST for new couples — because you want to “start as you mean to go.”
Before the tips, a warning from Erma Bombeck: “Marriage has no guarantees,” she said. “If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.” One guarantee is that your marriage will change over time – and sometimes your marriage will be less healthy than other times. If you’re dealing with anxiety and other problems, read How to Reduce Stress in a Relationship.
And here are a few (mostly fun) marriage tips…
5 Habits of a Healthy Marriage
Healthy couples get mad at each other – and because of that, they may live longer. The never guilt each other or put each other down – because as Erma Bombeck says, “guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.” Guilt is one gift you do not want to give your spouse – nor is it a healthy marriage habit. Read How to Set Boundaries in Marriage to learn about healthy communication and space in a relationship.
Get involved in a cause together – save the whales
Instead of fighting each other, stand united against a good cause. Fight for the rights of animals or children – creatures who can’t stand up for themselves. Joining forces to affect your environment not only gives you a common goal and unites you as married couple, it’s good for the planet too.
Choose an eco-battle together, such as adopting a nearby park and doing a weekly “garbage march.” Or plant a garden at home or in the community, focusing on organic fruits and veggies. Learn how to compost, and lighten the load in the landfills. Once this new behavior becomes a habit for your marriage, you can add another healthy habit – and soon you’ll be the healthiest couple on the block.
Make it a habit to volunteer as a married couple or family
“Contributing as a family not only helps [others], but it also strengthens the contributing family in the process,” writes Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. “Can you imagine the bonding, the sense of fulfillment, the sense of shared joy?”
Volunteer opportunities include helping out annually at a camp for disabled kids, serving monthly at a food bank, or walking dogs weekly at an animal shelter.
Take risks – go on a treasure hunt together
A great habit for healthy marriages is trying new things together, such as juggling, geocaching for treasures, or making sushi. Psychology professor Leaf Van Boven from the University of Colorado explains why happiness is found in your life experiences (not your possessions). Experiences are open to positive reinterpretations, become a meaningful part of your identity, and contribute to successful relationships.
When you experience something as a married couple – such as learning something new together – you build memories that you can reminisce and laugh about later. Those experiences unite you and become part of who you are as a married couple.
Learn to express anger, hurt, or frustration
An important part of married life is conflict resolution – and most couples aren’t trained to do this, says Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. His research reveals that couples who suppress anger are twice as likely to face early death as those who express it.
Getting mad without hurting your spouse is a healthy marriage habit that can improve your physical and emotional health. Related to this is your retaining a sense of personal identity when you’re in love.
End the day talking about your highs and lows
Make it a point to discuss the ups and downs in your marriage, family, and individual lives, and to look for the good in the bad.
“During dinner we talk about what we enjoyed best and least that day,” says Tanya, a mother of three on Bowen Island, BC. “It’s a great way for our kids to listen to each other’s stories and problems, help find solutions, understand that we all experience ups and downs, relate to each other, laugh, and illustrate that life is like a rollercoaster.”
A final quotation about marriage from Erma Bombeck: “People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife,” said Erma Bombeck. “The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.”
If you’re struggling to save your relationship, read How to Get Help for Your Marriage.
What’s your favorite habit for a healthy marriage? Comments welcome below… I can’t offer relationship advice or counseling, but it may help you to share your thoughts.
Do you have room to grow in your marriage? Does your spouse?