10 Tips For a Healthy Marriage
Disclaimer: We want to be the first to say that these are lessons we have learned in our short three years of marriage but have not mastered. We have so much left to learn and would never claim to have a model marriage. We don’t claim to be any type of experts and are only sharing things that have been helpful for us. Marriage is beautiful but definitely a challenge and commitment.
Pray Together and Separately
We are aware that not every couple is religious and even if you are, we know that every couple is not Christian. It’s good to be on the same page as far as faith goes and becomes something you can rely on together. Christianity is a way of life for both of us and that’s one of the main things that brought us together. For us, our faith drives us and gives us purpose in life, so it’s important for us to grow together in our faith and pray together daily. It’s also equally important to us that we grow in our faith as individuals as well because our faith in God comes before everything else, including each other. Faith is what we rely on in our victories in marriage and also in our failures.
Love Each Other In Unlovable Moments
The reason you pick your partner should go well beyond physical attraction, emotional connection, job, and social status. After the honeymoon period of marriage ends, reality starts setting in. You start noticing things about each other that may drive each other nuts and the things that mildly irritated you about the other person suddenly seems to magnify =) Our true colors start coming out but you have to constantly remind yourself of who, what, and why you fell in love with each other. This is why falling in love for the right reasons is so important because its hard to rely on superficial reasons as the foundation of your relationship.
Get to Know and Have a Relationship With Your Spouse’s Family
A lot of who your partner is has to do with how they were raised and the people they were raised by and raised with. (Not everyone comes from a conventional family so you may have to get creative on this and figure out who they consider as the family who raised them.) We’ll be the first to say that relationships with in-laws can be rewarding but also a challenge. And your relationship with them may not be perfect but making an effort is very important, The more you get to know your in-laws, the easier it becomes in understanding who your partner is. You start understanding where certain characteristics of their’s comes from and why their perspective on life may be different than yours. In our case, Jaison grew up in India and I grew up in the US but we grew up with parents who had similar values so it made sense why we immediately clicked. But certain things that we thought were different about each other that we assumed had to do with where we grew up actually had more to do with the families we were raised in. Parents, siblings, and relatives aren’t perfect, so challenges are expected all through out your marriage, but the more you know each other’s families, the easier it becomes in handling situations together.
Some days are so busy where you barely see each other or one or both of you may be out of town for work or personal trips, but at least take the time to text each other and ask each other how your day was. Sometimes what you say happened in a day my be repetitive but its therapeutic to be able to share out loud the events from the day with the other. There may be stories from work that make no sense to the other person because they don’t relate to your profession but the fact you listen and allow your partner to feel important, makes all the difference. We are quick to tell each other when the other person does something wrong but often forget to compliment each other for the things they do right. It can be something as simple as, “thank you for putting away the socks I left on the floor” or “thanks for refilling the sugar in the canister”. It maybe little things that they did, but the fact they did that to help you out and you noticed their efforts, allows both of you to know that marriage is teamwork and you’re both in it together.
Figure Out Activities You Can Do Together
Spending time together next to each other on the sofa is different than actually doing an activity together. One of the things we enjoy doing together is traveling. We’ve realized over the years that sometimes the small trips that took us to the middle of nowhere are the trips we enjoyed the most. We enjoy exploring new places, getting to know cultures, and trying new food. We also love to cook together. I am much more of a calculated chef and Jaison is a bit of a free-bird in the kitchen but our efforts together usually end up being pretty successful and we enjoy the process. We try to be supportive of each others hobbies as well and take part in them sometimes. Jaison helps me pick out things for my crafting endeavors and I join Jaison on his landscape photography adventures.
Give Each Other Space
There are days where we both have things to get done and we don’t necessarily want to do those things together and we’ve learned that that’s okay. There are times where we just need to hang out with our friends or our families by ourselves and that’s okay too. Just because we need time to ourselves does not mean we don’t love each other, it just means we need to regroup individually so we can be better for ourselves and each other.
Don’t Let Others Influence Your Choices in Marriage
Before we got married, for years all we heard was, “don’t you want to get married?”, “aren’t you going to get married?”, and “when are you going to get married?”. I’ve had women at church tell me not to wait too long or I won’t find anyone or that I’m not praying enough and that’s why I can’t find a partner. I was blessed in the fact that my parents weren’t trying to force me into marriage but they were concerned too because they heard about it all the time. God brought us together in the right timing for us and we have no regrets in waiting. We both agree that the decisions we make in marriage are also going to be based on whats best for us and not made to please others. So of course, all we hear about from people now is, “don’t you want a family?”, “aren’t you concerned you’re getting old?”, “don’t wait too long, you’ll regret it” and “are you two just going to keep traveling?” The two of us know the goals we have, the challenges we have faced and know to leave things in God’s hands and trust God’s timing. He brought us together and we believe He will lead us together in all aspects in His timing not in what society thinks should be happening in our lives.
Understand Each Other’s Strengths and Weaknesses
There is no such thing as a perfect partner and you certainly cannot expect perfection when you don’t have perfection to offer. Bringing up each others weaknesses all the time to upset the other person is not helpful to anyone. Try to think of ways to work on those weaknesses together and better yet, if a certain weakness of your partner happens to be a strength of yours, then make it your responsibility to carry that weight in the marriage. Recognizing each others strengths is important too and allowing their strengths to shine makes marriage more successful. I am a poor planner when it comes to basically anything but Jaison makes the best excel spreadsheet plans and I used to make fun of him about it but honestly, it has helped us out so much in so many situations and so I have learned to let go and rely on him for that but he makes sure to encourage me to contribute.
Don’t Let Disagreements Go On for Too Long
This was advice we got from others before we were even married and we’ve realized how important it is. Every married couple argues and that’s part of a healthy marriage, but dragging out arguments for weeks, months and years really puts a strain on your marriage. I know there’s a saying “don’t go to bed angry” and sometimes that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you need some rest and time before you are ready to have a new perspective on things or be able to forgive the other person. The important thing is, resolve things as quickly as possible but don't pretend like things are resolved and allow things to keep festering inside of you. Be honest with yourself and your partner and let them know if you needs more time to think over things. If you get to a point where you can’t solve a problem through prayer and speaking with each other, seek counsel. This doesn’t mean gossip to your friends and family who you know will be on your side but rather seek counseling with a professional who is neutral and able to hear both sides. Seeking counseling does not mean you are a failure or your marriage is a failure, seeking counseling means you care to make change for a better quality of life for yourself and your partner.
Don’t Try to Change Each Other But Rather Influence and Support Each Other’s Growth
Never try to go into marriage thinking you can eventually change the habits of the other person and don’t try to mask your own habits from the other person before marriage, thinking things will magically change. When you change for someone else, those changes are less likely to stick and you may start resenting the other person for making you change yourself. But overtime, your habits can influence each other. This could be positive or negative influences but hopefully there will be more positive influence than negative =)