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Recipe for a Healthy and Happy Marriage

Department of Health and Human Services - Federal Occupational Health

Building and maintaining a healthy marriage takes time and effort. With the day-to-day pressures of work, children and chores it can be easy to neglect to nurture your relationship and to take your mate for granted. This guide is designed to remind you about the importance of fostering a healthy relationship. It offers basic tips to help you build a successful marriage every day.

  • Learn to communicate effectively. Communication is perhaps the most important key to a strong, healthy relationship. Effective communication requires you to be an active listener—listening without judgment and focusing on what your partner is saying—as well as expressing your own feelings in a positive, truthful way.
  • Make time for each other. Part of being able to communicate effectively is making time for meaningful conversations in a setting free of distractions. For example, turn off the television in the evening to make it possible to have a real conversation or order a pizza and catch up during a quiet night at home.
  • Fight fair. Don’t expect to agree on everything. An important part of resolving conflicts is being respectful of your partner’s feelings, even when you are arguing. Let your partner know you value what he or she is saying, even if you don't agree. Try to avoid criticizing, ridiculing, dismissing or rejecting your partner or what he or she is saying. If you’re feeling frustrated and feel as if your anger is taking over, take a time out from the conversation and agree to resume it at a specific time later. Note--If you ever feel as if you may physically hurt your partner, walk away and seek help immediately.
  • Make a commitment to your relationship. Make your relationship with your partner a priority in your life. A relationship is a work in progress. It needs attention and effort to grow. No matter how busy you are, make time to spend quality time together, even if you have to schedule out specific time slots on your calendars. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments together and support each other during harder times.
  • Express appreciation. Saying thank you can go a long way toward making your partner feel special and appreciated. Even though you may feel that your partner knows you care, it doesn’t hurt to say thanks—even for every day things like cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed, or taking out the trash.
  • Maintain a sense of humor. Laugh often with your mate and be willing to laugh at yourself. Maintaining a sense of humor can relieve stress and tension, and help you get through a difficult time together.
  • Learn to compromise. Compromise is important in any relationship, but it’s especially important in a marriage. If you disagree on an issue, discuss the problem calmly, allow each person to explain his or her point of view, and look for ways to meet each other in the middle.
  • Practice forgiveness. There may be times when your partner makes a mistake or says or does something hurtful—whether intentionally or unintentionally. While it’s okay to be angry, it’s also important to then let go of the anger and move on. If you constantly bring up past hurts, it’s difficult to have a mutually loving relationship.
  • Keep romance alive. Relationships are often romantic in the beginning, but as time passes and couples become distracted by other things—work, children, bills, the house—they often take each other for granted. Make your partner feel special by doing something romantic, no matter how small. For example, make breakfast in bed for your partner, make a date for a special night out, take a walk on the beach, or have a picnic.
  • Take time for yourself. It’s normal for couples to have different hobbies, interests and friends. While it’s important to spend quality time with each other, it’s equally important to spend time alone or with friends. For example, plan a girls’ or guys’ night out, take a kickboxing class or join a book club. By making time for yourselves, you’ll appreciate each other more.
Finally, if you are having difficulty with your marriage or relationship, seek help. There are many resources available to help you including, therapists, clergy members, marriage workshops, and support groups. Additionally, you may have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through your employer. EAPs typically provide confidential counseling services and referrals to other emotional health resources in your area. Ask your Human Resources representative to find out if your employer offers this benefit.

 

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