Many of us wonder if we have a healthy marriage. We know it’s supposed to be hard sometimes, but is it supposed to be this hard? And is it supposed to be this hard for this long? We look around and see other married people and they seem to be doing better, so sometimes we wonder. Every marriage is unique, but there are some questions you can ask yourself to help you know if your marriage is as healthy as it could be.
How to Know if You Have a Healthy Marriage
First – Do you respect the other person?
If you see your spouse as your friend, and a separate person, that helps. Sometimes we get caught in the trap of seeing our spouse as someone who is there solely to “meet our needs”, and that can lead us into bullying him/her into giving us what we want/need as our primary way of relating. The plain fact is no person – even someone we love deeply – is going to “meet our needs”. I would like to invite you to put that burden down. You can love your spouse even when (s)he cannot meet your needs.
Second – Is there a level of safety which allows you to have fun, enjoy your relationship, manage conflict and hold your spouse accountable when necessary?
Is your spouse able to hold you accountable? Sometimes we avoid dealing with conflict because one person becomes oppressive, or even scary. We can choose to accept differences as something which makes the relationship richer. We don’t have to be afraid or angry about it. In any relationship there will be conflict, because there are differences. Conflict doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the relationship. We can learn to manage it in a healthy way, even if we did not grow up with people who knew how to do this.
I would like to encourage you to look closely at how you treat your spouse and yourself. Do you call your spouse names? Do you talk badly about yourself? Do you spend most of your time being angry because you are not getting what you want? Stop. Learn how to be kind to yourself and love yourself. Learn how to be kind to your spouse. Just like we can decide to stop eating junk food, and start eating healthier foods, we can decide to stop engaging in behaviors that – however normal they may appear to us – are not healthy for our marriages. If you need a place to start, tell your spouse tonight one thing you appreciate about him/her.