Think back to your wedding day. Do you remember how you felt? The excitement. The joy of knowing you were marrying your best friend.
On that wedding day, did you ever imagine the fights that you were going to have with your spouse? Or the possibility of feeling lonely with that person, even when you were spending 24 hours a day together?
Of course not! No one does.
You imagined having a strong relationship. A healthy marriage. An important bond.
And you can have that…but it will require some effort. Here are six characteristics to a strong marriages do:
Step #1 of Building a Strong Marriage — Be Vulnerable:
Sharing your emotions with others is not the easiest thing to do. Most people think that it should be easier to share them with your spouse, but that’s not always the case.
I have seen many couples in marriage counseling who close themselves off. They do not want to be hurt by their partner. Or they do not want to be the cause of pain for their partner.
Either way, a lack of vulnerability tends to close up pathways for healthy communication.
Strong marriages require that each member of the relationship is able and willing to share vulnerably when it comes to emotions.
Step #2 of Building a Strong Marriage — Build Trust:
Vulnerability cannot take place without trust in the other person. In order for a person to share vulnerability, they have to trust that you are safe. That you will take care of them emotionally.
How do you build trust? Some studies have shown that consistency is an important step. Are your reactions to a person’s sharing consistent 9 out of 10 times? If so, then your spouse can trust that you are going to be the same person despite the circumstances.
Strong marriages show consistent empathy. Even when couples aren’t able to agree on a conflict, demonstrating a consistent ability to understand and care can do wonders.
Step #3 of Building a Strong Marriage — Communicate Well:
Strong communication limits confusion in a relationship. Poor communication will often increase conflict.
Your marriage will enjoy improved communication. And you will find greater satisfaction in the relationship. And all this can happen by using a few simple communication tools.
Step #4 of Building a Strong Marriage — Go on Adventures (Build Memories):
Strong marriages tend to have lots of shared experiences. Shared experiences build memories and strengthen bonds.
So, do things that are fun or enjoyable for you. It doesn’t have to cost money. But you will want to be intentional in doing so. And if you are looking for a few ideas to help get the creative juices flowing, here are 26 of them.
People who adventure together build strong marriages.
Step #5 of Building a Strong Marriage — Be Intentional, Not Reactive:
Have you ever been in a conflict with your spouse where it feels like things just spiral out of control? Maybe you say something hurtful because you were angry or frustrated. And nobody walks away feeling good.
Emotional regulation is an important aspect of healthy marriages. When we react out of our pain, we send painful messages. Being able to emotionally-regulate allows you to be intentional in your words and behaviors.
Step #6 of Building a Strong Marriage — Invest in Your Relationship:
Strong marriages have partners who invest in the relationship. Whether it is going on consistent dates, or taking the time to learn more about one another, investing in your marriage cannot be understated.
Doing the hard work of investing in your marriage may take time and money. But what if the end result is a happy, healthy marriage. Would that be worth it to you?
There are no short cuts to building a strong marriage. And there really is not end point. Strong marriages need consistent work.
But these tips will help your marriage thrive. You can improve communication, find strength in vulnerability, and build trust in your relationship.
And in doing so, you will find a stronger, happier, and healthier marriage.
Jason Wilkinson is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. He provides marriage counseling to couples living in Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland, and throughout the state of Oregon. You can find out more about his marriage counseling services and more at www.wellspacepdx.com.