Ahhh, married life. It’s so easy to look at your marriage and wonder if you’re on the right track, isn’t it? What is a healthy marriage and what does a healthy marriage look like, anyway? If you’re wondering if your relationship is normal, this is where you should start.
You probably have varying emotions as your relationship experiences changes, challenges, and excitement. And on the downhill of one of these phases, you may catch yourself wondering if what you’re experiencing is normal.
Here, I want to tackle what a healthy marriage looks like.
But, I want to first set your mind at ease!
It is totally normal to experience ups and downs in any relationship. It’s not the current issue at hand, rather what you’re doing through all those phases that measure the health of your marriage.
Every couple will experience many changes and challenges, not unlike what you deal with personally.
Think about when you’re struggling at work or having a bad day with the kids. Or recall some of the more successful moments… a promotion, unexpected raise, or your kids ate their dinner without your input. Your days never look the same on an individual level, so why would we expect marriage to look and feel the same day in and day out?
Having realistic expectations about our relationships is an important first step in understanding what a healthy marriage looks like. And that’s what I’ll talk about first!
What is a Healthy Marriage?
First, let’s be clear that there are misconceptions about healthy marriages that you need to understand. Stop believing those myths and set reasonable expectations.
You are not perfect.
Your spouse isn’t perfect.
And no matter what, no relationship is perfect.
The best you can hope for is to build a healthy relationship on the most important elements to each of you, learn to compromise to some extent, and don’t get hung up on unreasonable expectations or fall for the myths about love and marriage.
So, what is a healthy marriage?
What Are The 3 Most Important Things in a Marriage?
In my opinion communication is THE most important thing in a marriage!
But, communication isn’t solely about communicating your needs or expectations. It’s about learning how to listen and understand your partner.
Both parties need to learn what tactics work best to work toward goals together.
Learn about the optimal times to speak with your partner or how to speak to them that won’t put them into defensive mode before starting a hard conversation.
Sometimes communication means asking questions about what you’ve heard to make sure you understood correctly before jumping to conclusions and escalating a situation unnecessarily.
How seriously did you take your vows “to love and cherish till death do us part?”
Staying committed to your partner and your vows takes work. But, when the going gets tough (and it will in marriage, at times) it’s important to remember that you made those vows and stay committed to keeping your word.
Understand that love in marriage changes over time, but that doesn’t mean you no longer love your partner. It’s just different, and that’s okay. Commit to your love and to work toward a healthy marriage no matter what.
Honesty and Trust
“Honesty is the foundation for trust in a relationship, and trust is necessary for a relationship to function and thrive. When you’re always honest with someone, it tells them that they can trust you and the things you say. It helps them know they can believe your promises and commitments.” Source: Why Honesty in a Relationship is So Important.
Being open and honest about everything with your spouse shows that you trust them to care for you. Through this exchange, you’re being vulnerable and sharing that it’s okay for them to be vulnerable and share with you, too.
What Does a Healthy Marriage Look Like?
- You communicate openly and effectively, even about difficult issues
- You each have boundaries and you each respect them
- Your spouse is the first person you think of for everything because you trust him/her
- You know you have each others’ backs
- You look for ways to spend time with each other and probably have a shared hobby
- You’re supportive of each other
Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are some of my favorite signs of a healthy marriage.
In fact, I think that having the support of my loving husband is one of the greatest benefits of our marriage. And, I can return the support when he needs it!
Personally, the fact that I can consider my husband my best friend says a lot about the health of our relationship. To that point, it would be great to see this in all marriages.
It truly takes work to maintain such a close friendship after years of figuring out how to communicate and resolve conflict and still be able to hold someone to the same high regard as you do in the beginning of the relationship. So it’s a true thing of beauty.
What is an Unhealthy Marriage?
A couple signs of an unhealthy marriage include:
- Your spouse isn’t fully present when you two are “talking”
- You spend all your time together (hello, co-dependencies?)
- You don’t keep each other informed about decisions or financial matters, regardless of size
- You can’t be yourself around your spouse
Hey … what’s up with point #2?
Didn’t I just say you need to spend time with your spouse and share a hobby? Now I’m telling you not to spend all your time together.
What is a healthy marriage without balance? I mean, too much of a good thing and all …
How Do You Maintain a Healthy Marriage?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your relationship has to be perfect 100% of the time.
Continue to keep an open line of communication with your spouse.
Commit to working through every situation together.
Be there for each other.
Don’t forget to have fun together!
Check out my tips to keep marriage exciting (even if you have kids).
Hopefully you’re able to stop asking if your marriage is normal and start evaluating your marriage. Just remember, a marriage will always take work and requires you both to be committed to its success!
I won’t say my relationship is perfect. I mean, whose is? But, I do love my husband and feel blessed to be in a pretty darned good marriage, so if you have questions I haven’t covered here, feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you.