How do you know if you have a healthy relationship with your spouse? Here are eight things we've observed that healthy couples do.
Healthy couples don't stop dating when they get married. Rather, they keep their relationship and friendship alive by continuing to date each other, by continuing to try new things together and by continuing to share adventures together. Isn't that how you fell in love in the first place? Pre-marriage dating is like scraping the tip of the iceberg — there's so much more to discover and experience together after saying "I do." So, if you don't already have a date lined up for this weekend, then it's time to start planning!
Believe it or not, couples in very healthy relationships disagree! When you take two different people, from different backgrounds, with different life experiences, you're bound to have differences in opinion from time to time. No one sees eye-to-eye all the time. In fact, these disagreements can actually make your marriage better by teaching you to work through conflict and arrive at the best solution possible. The key is that couples in healthy relationships disagree respectfully. They sincerely try to understand each other's perspectives and don't feel the need to keep score and track who "wins."
3. Have sex ... often
Healthy couples have sex often. Physical intimacy is a beautiful experience that the two of you share together — and only with each other. Sex creates a bond between spouses that is unlike any other. It creates a closeness that clearly is physical, but also much more than that. Intimacy requires the highest degree of trust and confidence from your spouse, and commitment to your spouse. For healthy couples, sex is a great way to create, build upon and nurture those feelings of trust, confidence, commitment and love.
Couples in healthy marriages have healthy communication habits. They know what's going on in each other's lives and they make time simply to talk. They talk together about their day — the good, the bad, the funny, the embarrassing. They aren't afraid to share their feelings with each other because they know their thoughts and feelings will be respected and kept safe. And they don't keep secrets from each other.
Healthy couples forgive each other, as often as necessary. No one is perfect, and no one knows your imperfections better than your spouse. On the flip side, you are also keenly aware of your spouse's imperfections. You see each other's best — and worst. Sometimes there are bumps along the road, and that's OK. It's part of the journey. Healthy couples let those bumps propel them forward, rather than trip them up. They forgive each other as often as necessary, and move on with a greater resolve to build their "happily ever after."
6. Respect each other
Couples in healthy relationships respect one another. They protect each other's feelings and never take advantage of one another. They recognize that while they may not always agree, they always expect and deserve each other's respect. They are best friends and would never want to do anything to hurt the bond of trust and love they share. They place the importance of their marriage above any petty disagreement or misstep.
Healthy couples support each other. They become cheerleaders for one another and give each other wings to fly. If something is important to one spouse, then by default it's important to the other spouse. In healthy relationships, husbands and wives are there for each other through thick and thin (remember those vows that say "in sickness and in health"?). This support allows them to accomplish far more together than they ever could as two separate individuals.
8. Focus on the good
Finally, couples in healthy marriages focus on the good. It's been said that you should have your eyes wide open before marriage and then half closed after. In other words, rather than noticing all the things you wish your spouse did differently, choose to see all the incredibly amazing things he or she is doing. Essentially, put on your rose colored glasses. Couples who do this experience a great deal of optimism, positivity and overall energy within their marriage.
This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.