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9 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

Updated on October 25, 2017
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Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

Weddings can occur at a variety of venues
Weddings can occur at a variety of venues | Source

Marry or Divorce?

Many people have wedding ceremonies at churches, parks, or other locations, such as the picturesque scene shown above of a gazebo. They make vows and prepare for what they hope will be a time of unequivocal bliss with their partners for decades to come. Without question, making a commitment to a union requires work and sacrifice. Over time, situations arise which test the couple’s’ level of enthusiasm and dedication to the ideas and beliefs they hold about their marriage. Nevertheless, couples can navigate these hurdles with understanding and compassion.

However, divorce may be the ultimate outcome if these issues are not resolved. Although divorce rates appear to be declining in reporting states, fifty percent appears to be the stubborn statistic at which marriages end in divorce. Incidentally, marriages last about eight years in the United States. In some countries, marriages last longer, but staying together requires flexibility and patience from both people regardless of where they live. Below are some of the most common factors contributing to divorce:

Contributing Factors to Divorce

  • Infidelity – When one spouse or both engage in sexual activity outside of the marriage, often the couple splits up because of a feeling that trust and respect has been betrayed. With the spread of internet sites dedicated to allowing people to meet, infidelity is a potential constant source of tension. Cheating is frequently cited as the main reason for divorce.
  • Financial Turmoil – If one spouse misuses financial resources, then continuing money problems can create a desire for separation. Job loss, receiving cash or valuables from a will, or not planning with money can put stress on the marital relationship as well.
  • Inequality – Trying to equally divide responsibilities and duties can create havoc in a marriage. An inability to handle power sharing issues lead many couples to divorce. Inequality may also exist in social connections and an over dependence on others thoughts about the marriage.
  • Abuse – When spouses engage in physical or verbal abuse, marriage becomes the casualty of such battles. Legal consequences may be a result of fighting to this extent. Not surprisingly, chemical dependency (cocaine, alcohol, heroin, etc.) often have a part in such separations.

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Many people get married in courthouses like this one
Many people get married in courthouses like this one | Source

The Key Components of a Successful Marriage

One of the places people may choose to get married in America is at the county courthouse with the ceremony carried out by the local magistrate. (Photo of a courthouse is shown.) In spite of where two people decide to tie the knot, they must engage in behaviors which are conducive to a long-term marriage, preventing them from visiting the courthouse for a divorce. They must carefully develop an unshakable respect – an admiration for characteristics, accomplishments, and abilities of one another. This is not just doing unto each other as each would prefer, but restraint is crucial. At the same time, from this mutual respect, a deep level of trust should eventually reveal its presence in the relationship. Such cohesion doesn’t occur without effort and difficulties.

Yet, I’ve worked with individuals and their partners when implementing rehabilitation services to help them address problems. Also, I’ve counseled couples who needed someone to help them at my church. The one consistent point I found to be true – if these couples had a good foundation in their marriage, they tended to overcome obstacles with success. In addition, they exhibited many of the qualities below in their communication patterns and actions toward one another. Here are several strategies which could help you keep a strong and healthy marital relationship; my wife and I practice these guidelines daily:

Nine Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

  1. Befriend Other Married Couples – Find couples who are married to spend time with to develop close dependable friendships for when troubles occur. A long-time married couple can be there to help guide the younger couple in the early years of their marriage. An enormous advantage: If both couples have young children, the children will be able to observe good and healthy interactions between adults. Remember: Imitation is a powerful learning tool.
  2. Share Interests – Everyone is different, and married couples must remember they are individuals agreeing to join together with separate backgrounds and capacities. You may prefer one activity or thing while your spouse does not. Try to bring those interests together: For instance, you may play an instrument and your spouse enjoys singing - Together, you may be able to make beautiful music. Or you may enjoy cooking; treat your spouse to a surprise meal he/she favors.
  3. Encourage One Another – When crisis erupts, you may have to comfort your spouse. Listen. Give advice if asked. Cheer your partner up by reminding him/her of situations you both have overcome with strength.
  4. Find Time to Talk Every Day - Remember: Your marriage is your most important adult relationship. A few minutes of listening sincerely could make a substantial difference in the way your marriage progresses. Some examples of good times to talk include: bedtime, during a meal, or right before/after the work day. You will receive dividends in your relationship over the years by simply asking a question like: “How was your day?”
  5. Plan Time for You and Your Spouse Alone – In order to stay in touch with each other emotionally, plan to do activities you both treasure alone. For example, watching a movie is a good way to have fun and chat afterwards about the film. Visit a museum or go to a concert. Go hiking or camping. Work in the yard or garden – these activities are as diverse as the number of couples on this planet. It’s up to you two.
  6. Learn How to Argue – Disagreements will happen – It’s natural. Pay attention to the problem. Avoid name calling and blaming. Seek resolutions which benefit you both. Remember: You don’t have to be correct all the time. Consider your spouse’s happiness when you have disputes. Be willing to apologize and ask for and offer forgiveness.
  7. Let Go of the Small Things – Unless health is involved or there is some other restriction: food options, types of music to enjoy, programs to watch on television – these are not essential topics to make a stand about in the long-run. Learn to take turns and share in the small things; or ignore them altogether.
  8. Focus on the Big Issues – Quality of life in the marriage helps determine if it will remain successful. Discuss long-term goals and enjoy planning for them, such as for retirement. Balancing family needs, changing income and assets, perception of moral obligations – these are tremendous topics to keep in mind.
  9. Adjust to Changes in the Marriage – Realistically, the person you marry will not be the same person in the decades to come. People change and evolve. Disabilities may impact one spouse or both. Jobs can move from one location to another. The list of changing events is numerous. The essential question you need to think about at all times is: Can I handle the best of life and will I be there when the worse of life arrives? Ironically, recognizing circumstances can alter unexpectedly is a fundamental step in strengthening the relationship.

Do you believe the marital relationship is the most critical adult involvement in a person’s life?

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