Kathy L. Sieja, M.A.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Aspects of Healthiness in Marriage
Marriage can be very difficult, but we shouldn’t give up on it because it is hard, or because our expectations aren’t met in our own timetable. Below are twelve principles that convey health in marriage, and it’s important to follow them in a spirit of unity.
1) COMMITMENT – when a couple says their “I do’s,” they make that promise before God and witnesses. It is a true covenant with God and with each other that should be taken seriously, and be remembered as the years go by and things change in your life. The marriage contract is probably the most difficult commitment we make in our life.
2) RESPECT – this means that we treat our spouse as we would like to be treated -always. Some people think they have to do the tit for tat thing. If he hurt me, I have permission to hurt him back. If she strayed, then I can too. Respect tells us that this isn’t the case. We work together to mutually respect each other, and this isn’t always an easy task.
3) TENACITY- sticking with each other through the hard times is not always the hardest part, though it can be extremely difficult. It’s sticking with each other through the mundane that will often get us. Apathy in marriage is a huge red flag. Getting through the day-to-day grind of living is a challenge that continues the life of a marriage.
4) BALANCE – this is the give and take of that day-to-day life. It’s not always winning, and certainly also not always being the one to lose. It’s loving each other enough to look for the qualities that the other person has that complement your own. Recognizing your similarities and differences can help you find ways that you balance each other. It doesn’t mean that you should be opposite your spouse in every aspect of your personalities, it just means that you want to look for a way to find a balance in your relationship.
5) CONTENTMENT – similar to balance, contentment is being comfortable with each other, just liking to be together. It is being able to sit in a room together, talking or not, and feel happy to be there. It’s also working together for the good of the marriage.
6) LOYALTY – being faithful to each other is more than not committing adultery. It is being there for the long haul; it’s defending each other against criticism from parents and naysayers. Most of all, it’s being able to depend on your spouse forever.
7) AMUSEMENT – this is making sure that you have some fun in your life together. What do you do together for fun? Make a pact with each other to go on dates on a regular basis, even if that means having to plan ahead, getting a sitter for the children, or saving up money. Amusement in marriage is also being able to laugh together, every day.
8) FAIR FIGHTING – it’s important to a marriage to face conflict, and learn a method of fighting in a fair way. Couples who never have disagreements are often in more trouble than the couple who regularly argues. Learning how to resolve conflict in an equitable way is extremely important in a successful relationship. There are some clear-cut methods for fair fighting.
9) VALUES – being different from each other can bring interest and excitement to a relationship, but being the same in your basic value system can bring the stability necessary to rear children to have your principles, as well as boundaries to protect you from the world.
10) LOVE FACTOR – this is the delicious part of a marriage. This is the magic that makes us know that we were drawn to each other, and enjoy being together most of the time. If we love each other, we want to make the rest work.
11) TRUST – not only must you strive to always be honest with each other, you will want to demonstrate your trust in all the little ways. Jealousy is the antithesis of trust, and can destroy the fiber of your relationship; it is also such a useless emotion.
12) SPIRITUALITY- all of the principles of a happy marriage are complete only when they are kept in an environment of spirituality. It doesn’t matter if you believe as I do, but it does matter that you believe something – in a higher power, or nature, or whatever – but nurturing your spirituality is paramount to the success of your own mental health, and thus the health of your marriage.
As you have already found out, marriage ranks up there with parenting as the greatest challenges we are privileged to experience in life. Both marriage and parenting are topics that fascinate, concern, and dominate us, and are worth the time and effort we put into them.