While principles like communication and making time for each other are important when it comes to maintaining marriage fitness, some of the “rules” for maintaining a healthy marriage have certainly changed. This is largely due to the fact that society has changed significantly. For instance, women are working outside of the home more, and a number of men are becoming more comfortable with staying home and taking care of the kids. It’s also important to note that more couples are choosing not to have children these days, which changes the dynamics of the marriage. Finding out the specific things that work for you and your mate is the key to a loving relationship that is wonderful and life-changing for you both.
Here are some of the key points to remember to maintain a healthy marriage.
Create a Plan for Your Finances
About 40% of married people admit that they lie to their spouses about making purchases. This is not healthy for a marriage, and could lead to some serious problems. Money is often the main reason why couples fight, which is why you and your spouse should come up with a solid financial plan for managing, spending and saving your money.
Be Mindful of Your Waistline
A number of people feel that after they tie the knot, they no longer have to watch their weight. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine even reveals that married people tend to be heavier, and the chances of being obese is 37% higher in married people.
Staying in shape will, of course, make you more attractive to your partner. It will also reduce your risk of certain health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. You and your spouse may want to start going to the gym together or heading to the local farmer’s market to make sure you stay healthy while spending quality time together.
Make Intimacy a Priority
According to Dr. Andrew Goldstein, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the average married couple has sex a little more than once a week. It has also been reported that couples have a 90% decline in sexual satisfaction after the birth of their first child. This is a clear indication that sex should be a priority in your marriage, but it’s probably not a good idea to schedule sex. You don’t want intimacy to feel like a chore, but you do want to maintain a bond with your spouse. A 2008 study revealed that couples who have any type of physical intimacy with each other on a regular basis (i.e. kissing, holding hands), produce less cortisol, which means their stress levels are considerably lower.
Establish Family Rules
During the first 5 to 10 years of your marriage, you and your mate will be coming up with the rules for how your family should work. In most cases, you’ll have an idea of how your family should work based on how you grew up—no matter how you feel about your upbringing. It’s very likely that you and your spouse will butt heads several times until you come up with family guidelines that will work for you. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your spouse about why you feel uncomfortable with certain things, so that you can get to the root of the problem without attacking each other. This is the best way to figure out what will make you both happy is to be honest about your expectations.
Learn to Be Flexible
Certain agreements that you made with your spouse in the beginning of your marriage could be subject to change for a number of reasons. After having children, you may find that you have to change your financial plans, and you’ll have to make adjustments when it comes to spending time together. During the recession 82% of the people who lost their jobs were men, which means that more women were the breadwinners and more men were taking care of the children.
In marriage (and life in general), things happen. You have to learn to be flexible and realize that coming with a solution that works for your family is what’s most important.
In addition to these things, it’s also important to maintain a healthy social life during your marriage. Connect with your friends often and confide in them when you need to without saying something that would make your partner feel uncomfortable. It’s also a good idea to stay active so you’ll have the energy that is necessary for enhancing your relationship.
Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage. Marriage.com provides resources, information and a community that supports healthy, happy marriages. Malini has global experience in international management and communications, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.