July 24, 2013

11 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Marriage. ~ Carri Uranga

Being science-minded Anthropologists, my husband and I had mixed feelings about the institution of marriage.

I have been with my husband for 22 years. We dated eight years before finally getting married. We have certainly had our ups and downs just as any relationship, but as we embark on our 15-year wedding anniversary people often ask, “What’s the secret to a long lasting and happy marriage?”

While I don’t believe there are any secrets (at least none that I know of), I would say there are a few key factors that I believe keep it real.

1. ‘Til death do you part? I realize we took a vow here folks, but c’mon…that’s so far into the future (hopefully)! Just like with yoga practice or sobriety, take things as they come day by day. Sure, I hope and plan to be with my husband until the very end, but the reality is you never know what’s going to happen. I can’t think about forever. I can barely make appointments for the next week, just ask my chiropractor. What I can do is focus on the present moment and be the best I can be right now. 

2. Appreciate and thank each other. Don’t take each other for granted. Appreciate what each person brings to the relationship. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and yes, even Valentine’s Day—even if you think it’s the most horrendous holiday ever. We personally don’t like prix fix menus, so on that day in particular we stay in and cook a romantic dinner. It’s become our tradition. OK, fine, he cooks while I watch, drink wine and sometime offer to chop something just to participate. Thank your partner. My husband does a lot for the household and I appreciate it. I let him know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Of course I tell him verbally, but I will sometimes send an email so he gets it separately. It’s nice to get that special message while in sea of work.

3. Have fun! Laugh. Go out. Go on vacations. Drink champagne. Don’t save the bubbly for a special occasion. Every day is a special occasion. Pop that bottle, make a toast and celebrate love and life, just for the heck of it! Remember you fell in love in the first place for many reasons. If you think you don’t have the money—save the money. I believe we always make time and money for the things that are most important to us. Besides, it’s just money, you always make more. I always say with the exception of picking up hookers and smoking crack, you rarely regret the things you do, but you sure remember those things you didn’t do. They’ll stick with you forever. Here’s a little tip: if you don’t drink alcohol Grapefruit Perrier makes a fantastic alternative!

4. Stay healthy. Stay in shape. Be healthy together. Find an activity you both like to do together. If you don’t like to do the same things, that’s fine, but don’t skip out on your activity because your partner doesn’t like it. You’ve got to take care of yourself. Don’t allow your partner to be an excuse. I convinced my husband to run a marathon with me and I agreed to ride a century bike ride with him. We had fun training and accomplishing goals together and we still do both—plus, I got a new bike out of the deal!

5. Stay sexy. Keep having sex. Again, we always make time for what’s most important. You have to make time for sex. Since I’m on the topic, if oral sex was a part of your relationship when you were dating, don’t stop just because you’re now married. Trust me ladies, the way to a man’s heart is not his stomach! Yes, yes I’m assuming a man/woman relationship here. I’m sure you’ll post your comments below, but the point is, if you have sex, regardless of whether it’s with the same or opposite sex, keep doing it.

6. Happiness comes from within. Don’t expect the other person to make you happy. Be happy within yourself first, then you can be happy together. If you want flowers, go buy some. Don’t get mad that the other person didn’t do something you wanted them to do, unless of course it’s a specific errand you needed and they forgot, but you know what I’m talking about. Do for yourself and when the other person does something special for you, appreciate it, but don’t expect it.

7. Pick your battles. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t usually speak in clichés, but in this case it really applies. Are those little nit-picky things really worth nagging about? Probably not. Why drive a wedge? Also, don’t ask questions unless you’re really prepared to hear the truth. “Do I look fat?” “Do you wish my tits were bigger?” You don’t really want to know the answers to these questions, so stop asking. Besides, they are signs of insecurity and nobody likes that.

8. Discuss problems. When you do need to discuss something, do it in a civil fashion. Yelling and disrespecting each other or calling each other names will only cause more problems. Try to refrain from statements like “you always” do this or “you never” do that. Those two words “always” and “never” can be triggers because they are usually exaggerations and not actually the case. And hey, guys—I’ve never met a woman that likes to be told to “relax” so you can just X that word right out of your vocabulary.

9. Recognize when you need outside help. There are times you may need a third party to help you through a tough situation. Let go of the ego and allow someone to help you. There’s nothing wrong with going to a therapist or counselor. If one party wants to go and the other party doesn’t? Well, suck it up and go for the other person. Ask yourself, what’s the best that can happen? Why not? You’ll probably learn something new about yourself and your partner and in the long run grow even closer.

10. Forgive. If something terrible has happened in your relationship, deal with it and move on. Don’t dwell. I’m not saying ignore it, it is important to deal with it. If you don’t, it will continue to resurface, but it’s also important to recognize it’s in the past. It’s over. You can’t constantly bring it up or use it against the other person. It’s passive aggressive. It’s not healthy and you’re only creating a bigger problem in the end. It may take some work, but make a decision and commit to that work.

11. Unconditional love. Don’t try to change someone. I’m telling you now. The things that bothered you about a person when you first started dating are going to be the exact same things that bother you 10 years later and multiplied, so accept it and deal (or maybe you choose not to in the beginning). Of course, there are things that we can all be better at and things we need to work on. I’m not talking about the little things, I’m talking about the bigger picture. Let go of the control and simply love.

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{photo: via Pinterest}

Ed: Sara Crolick

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