Tips to Build a Lasting, Resilient Marriage
Resilience is such a valuable characteristic for an individual. It is just as valuable for a marriage.
There are couples who have trouble agreeing on just about anything. Whether it is about grabbing dinner in Tualatin or Lake Oswego. Or whether it would be nice to go into downtown Portland.
And after spending 20 minutes arguing about where to get dinner, they end up not going anywhere. They get frustrated and angry with each other.
Issues of money often brings up disagreement. Or how to discipline their children. And when arguments build up over years and people stop listening, loneliness ensues. Marriages come to an end.
The added stress that marriages feel due to the impact of CoVid-19 is tremendous. And what used to be easy decisions to make start to feel harder.
There is no reserve of energy for so many.
And this is where resiliency in marriage comes in handy. Many marriages that go the distance and last a lifetime often have resilience. They are able to push through difficult times. Each individual is committed to the relationship.
Here are some tips on how to build up resiliency within your marriage.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #1 — Communication in Marriage:
You probably could have guessed this one. Communication is so important for a strong, resilient marriage.
But it isn’t just about the quantity of communication. You want to have quality communication. What you share matters. As does how you share it.
It does not do you any good in your marriage if you communicate a lot in your marriage if it causes more fighting.
The good news is that there are tools you can put in place right away that can help change your communication pattern.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #2 — Self-Regulated Individuals:
How often do you hear someone say, “I wouldn’t have gotten mad if you had done it this way”?
Or “I got upset when you said you XYZ”?
It isn’t unusual to have a negative reaction to our spouse when they haven’t acted or spoken to us like we would like.
But we give our spouse far too much responsibility when we do that. You are responsible for your emotions. And your spouse is responsible for theirs.
Could your spouse act or behave differently? Sure. And so could you. And you are responsible for yourself.
Resilient marriages often have two people who are willing to practice emotional self-regulation.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #3 —Listen Well:
Listening isn’t easy. We are generally terrible in our society at actually listening to what other people are saying. It is one of the reasons there is so much polarization in our world. And with all of the exhaustion from dealing with the CoVid-19 stress and isolation, listening can feel like a monumental task.
If you are feeling like there is a constant competition in your marriage, it may be that there is a lot of talking, but very little listening taking place.
I get it. Listening is hard. Especially when we are in a debate. Or fight. Or even being challenged. It is painful.
But practicing active listening skills is one of the best ways to understand what your partner is feeling. And to help your spouse feel heard.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #4 — Handle Your Conflict:
There are so many times when I hear one partner say, “I feel alone. My spouse doesn’t understand me. I don’t know that my partner loves me.”
Then the partner will look back and say, “I don’t know what you want me to do.”
And when I ask how they deal with conflict in the marriage, the response I will get is “Oh, we don’t have fights.”
What they really mean is that they are afraid of hurting or making the other person angry. So, instead of bringing up their hurts or concerns, they stuff their emotions. And they don’t bring them up.
And that creates isolation within a marriage.
Resilient marriages don’t ignore disagreements or conflicts. They don’t withdraw from their spouse when attempting to stuff their emotions.
Partners in a resilient marriage don’t back away but engage each another when a conflict arises.
There is a healthy middle ground between ignoring conflict and saying something that increases it. Resilient marriages have partners who are brave enough to go searching for it.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #5 —Have Fun with Each Other:
CoVid-19 has made it hard for people to have a healthy work/life balance. Many are actually working more during this time. But feeling less efficient about their work.
And this is causing more stress. And the lack of a commute isn’t providing time to decompress before engaging in the home life.
All of this means that it is more important than ever to set up healthy boundaries with your life and relationship. There is a time to sign off of work and social media.
And there comes a point where it is important to intentionally dedicate time to having fun in your marriage.
In the hectic and stressful life that we are living in, spending time playing isn’t going to just happen. You are going to have to be intentional with it.
So, what do you and your spouse enjoy doing? Schedule some time to do that.
And if Covid-19 has limited or eliminated some of those favorite things, get creative in your date ideas.
Resilient marriages are those that are intentional in having fun together.
How to Build Resilience in Marriage Tip #6 —Demonstrate Thankfulness:
Do you ever go through the dishwasher and reorganize all the dishes after your spouse finished washing them?
Why do you do that?
Because your spouse did it wrong, right? Or, at least, not as well as you do.
It’s kind of funny think about. But it does communicate the message that you did not appreciate the effort.
It is easy to forget to appreciate our spouse. To be thankful for the things that person does or who that person is.
Practicing thankfulness is so important to a resilient marriage. And not just a flippant “Thanks” as you are walking past your spouse for hanging the dish towel correctly.
But a genuine “Thank you.” Look your spouse in the eye and communicate love. Communicate that you see them and appreciate who they are. Communicate that they matter to you.
A marriage full of appreciation is one that can navigate difficult times. Like living through a global pandemic.
Marriages require effort and work. And that can be especially daunting when you are already feeling exhausted.
But you can create a marriage filled with resiliency. One that will last through the ups and downs that life offers. Following these tips will help you build up that resilience.
And if you need a little help getting started on the path, marriage counseling can be an excellent investment.
Jason Wilkinson provides marriage counseling to couples in Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland. Wellspace Counseling also provides marriage counseling throughout the state of Oregon through online counseling.