4 Ways To Fortify Your Marital Bonds
Marriage is a complex, ever-evolving relationship that challenges partners to remain active in their efforts to maintain the relationship.
While the components of a healthy relationship – passion, commitment and intimacy – may seem abstract, I have found specific actions through my practice as a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist that couples can do to prioritize their relationship and make it last.
• Continue or learn to communicate well. We all know to be polite to our bosses at work or strangers we meet, but it is often with those we are closest to that we slip into unhealthy habits of disrespect or inattentive listening. Most likely, at the point in your relationship when you plan to get married, you feel close and communicate well with your partner. It is over time that partners become busier, more distracted or simply make fewer efforts to communicate respectfully and openly with their spouses. But communication is a critical component to a healthy marriage.
Couples must schedule time to check in with each other weekly. This “weekly check-in” may seem less necessary in the early years of marriage, but you will appreciate the habit later when work hours become longer and kids enter the picture. Use this time to coordinate schedules, check in about any issues in the relationship, and take time for each other away from technological distractions (that means no phones or TV in the background).
• Create a budget agreement. One of the most common areas of newlywed conflict is managing a joint budget. Even if you cohabitate with your partner before marriage, it is unlikely that you pooled all of your resources, and there is a lack of education about shared budgets. But money is important for your personal and relational well-being. Talk with your partner about your financial goals and concerns. Your spouse should be an equal partner in financial decisions.
It is helpful for partners to regularly check in with each other about financial changes and decisions (you can easily incorporate this into your weekly check-ins). I advise couples to set a monthly personal budget – say $500 – that each partner can spend on individual expenses without consulting the other. If a partner wants to make a purchase that goes above the agreed-upon amount, he or she should wait until the other partner is consulted and agrees. By forming healthy spending habits and open communication about finances, partners can avoid one of the most common areas of marital conflict and feel closer as equals.