Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 Ways to Reap Health Benefits of a Happy Marriage

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There has been an assumption for many decades that married people were healthier and happier than unmarried people. But it's not that simple. The quality of the marriage matters a great deal. People in unhappy marriages are not better off than unmarried people.

This begs the question of how to make the best of your marriage or long-term relationship. How can you increase your happiness and harmony? Most of us model what we've seen other couples in our lives do, for good and for bad. Unfortunately we often find ourselves just going through the motions instead of being mindful about how we can be good partners to each other.

Here are 10 tips by relationship experts for making the most of your commitment to each other:

1. Communicate. Don't expect your partner to read your mind or stuff down your feelings to avoid conflict. If you're worried or upset about something, tell your partner in a nonthreatening way. You must also be able to listen and hear what your partner is saying. Listening is more important than talking.

2. Appreciate Each Other. You must let your partner know how much you value his/her contributions to your life and all the little and big things they do for you and your family. Be supportive and proud of each other. Be more positive than negative in sharing your feelings with your partner.

3. Don't Try to Change Your Partner. It's just about impossible to change a fundamental aspect of another person's habits. There are some things we have to accept about each other to stay together. Sometimes it is more effective to change how we look at something rather than expecting our partners to change. It is important to accept each other just the way we are.

4. Forgive. Hanging on to anger builds resentment and makes it impossible to go through life as a team. If your partner does something so bad you cannot forgive him/her, you may not belong together.

5. Be Respectful and Understanding. When you discuss issues or concerns treat each other with respect and understanding in your choice of words and tone of voice. Try to stay calm. Don't bring your issues up in front of other people or when you don't really have time to talk through each of your perspectives.

6. Conflict is Normal. But how you handle conflict matters. Don't try to sort through things when you are angry. Come back to the discussion when you have had a chance to cool off and can talk to each other without exploding. Be direct and say what you mean. Game playing doesn't solve anything.

7. Choose Your Battles. It isn't effective to take a stand on small, insignificant issues. Instead, think about how much the issue really matters in the scheme of your lives together and bring it up only if it still seems important in that context.

8. Make Time For Each Other. This can be especially difficult when one or both of you deals with chronic health issues or chronic pain. That's all the more reason to keep this on your mind and take advantage of the times when opportunities present themselves. 

9. Give Each Other Time Apart. It is okay and perfectly healthy to spend time apart participating in hobbies or hanging out with friends. You don't need to be together every minute of every day. It's good for your relationship to spend some time apart.

10. Maintain Intimacy. Chronic health issues and pain can make it difficult to have the kind of private intimate moments you would like to. But it's not an all or nothing proposition. Just spending time cuddling, holding hands and kissing keeps you connected. Talk openly about your limits and brainstorm ways to help each other meet those needs.

Is Marriage Good For Your Health?
Does Marriage Help Your Health & Happiness?
Ten Tips for a Happy Marriage
Want a Happy Marriage? Be Nice, Don't Nitpick
Eight Keys to a Happy Marriage

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.