Science says a happy marriage can lower a person’s cortisol levels. With lower stress hormones, they’re able to minimize their risk of many long-term ailments, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
But the real question is—what is the secret to a happy marriage? This article will delve into different evidence-based tips to achieve a healthy married life.
Give the Benefit of the Doubt
Disagreements in a marriage are normal. They shouldn’t mean the worst about one’s spouse.
Board-certified psychologist and author Paul DePompo suggests that a person should assume their partner has good intentions during an argument, not the opposite. Doing the latter will fuel the fire and lead them closer to an impending divorce.
For instance, when a partner fails to do the dishes, the other shouldn’t jump to conclusions and think they’ve married a lazy person. They may be tired from work.
Giving the other the benefit of the doubt allows couples to learn from one another, settle the issue, and move on from it.
It’s All About Communication
But that’s not to say couples should tolerate the other’s wrongdoings and make assumptions all the time. The best thing to do to solve issues is through constant communication.
This may involve getting into healthy arguments, says clinical psychologist Deborah Grody. Doing so allows couples to lay their cards on the table, discuss the conflict, and see how they can fix it.
But communication isn’t always done in fights. Couples should also be able to do the following:
- Utter the words “thank you” instead of letting their partner assume their appreciation.
- Say “sorry” and mean it. Please don’t say it only to appease the other.
- Use couple-focused words like “we” or “our” to foster unity in the relationship.
Keep Standards High
Marrying in the city with the least divorce rate does not guarantee a 100 percent successful marriage, but simply expecting a great marriage does. While many couples are told their standards for marriage are too high, research says having high standards from the get-go does the marriage well.
Dr. Donald Baucom from the University of North Carolina warns couples that expecting too little from one’s spouse often leads to unacceptable results. For instance, if one continues to tolerate physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, they’ll likely receive the same treatment for the long term.
On the flip side, couples shouldn’t build equally overwhelming standards from each other.
Focusing on their expectations rather than on the time they invest in their marriage can set them up for failure.
Have an Active Sex Life
Intimacy is crucial in achieving a healthy and happy marriage, says the director of clinical services, Chris Kraft. While it’s normal for couples to feel a dip in their sexual drive over time, it’s essential to keep the pleasure sizzling in their relationship.
Different factors can cause this decline. This can be due to exhaustion from having a new baby or balancing career and family pressures.
The first step to toppling these roadblocks is to acknowledge them. Couples need to sit the problem down and discuss it slowly to regain intimacy. It helps to listen to each other’s concerns and make an effort to resolve them.
Keep Others in the Loop
When we say intimacy, that doesn’t mean couples should treat their partner as their whole world. That’s far from realistic and ideal.
One piece of advice happy married couples can attest to is creating happy external relationships. This means forming bonds with family and friends as well.
This minimizes the emotional demands from each other, and in turn, strengthens the marriage.
A University of Maryland Baltimore research states that going on double dates makes for more fulfilling marriages. Having healthy friendships with other couples helps increase one’s attraction to their partner. This also gives them more perspective on relationships and a greater understanding of each other.
Put in the Work
There’s no single recipe for a perfect marriage—not that there’s even one. A healthy marriage requires two people willing to overcome each other’s differences time and time again. After all, marriage is a team effort. As Robert C. Dodds says, “The goal is not to think alike, but to think together.”