Three Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Marriage

Biracial couple hugging one another

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m a big fan of natural alternatives to medication and getting our bodies back to the way God designed them. Your cells are constantly trying to achieve homeostasis, or balance and toxins disrupt this process. How does this relate to marriage? Well…couples can have a host of relationship toxins that cause turmoil as the couple tries desperately to create homeostasis in the relationship.

Here’s an interesting thought. Some people have lived with sickness or illness for so long that they don’t even realize they could be healthier. They just accept their poor health. The exact same thing can happen in marriage. Some couples have been hurting or upset for so long that they cannot even fathom a situation in which they could be doing well.

So how do you get rid of toxins in your relationship? First, get the bad out, then get some good in.

Rid Yourself of Unforgiveness:

One of the most damaging things to a relationship is a lack of forgiveness in either spouse. In fact, even if only one spouse is struggling with unforgiveness the relationship is likely to either fail or be pretty miserable.

How do you know if unforgiveness is present in your relationship? Do you remember an event in which your spouse disappointed you and occasionally remind them or somebody else of the event? I’m not referring to something big (like an affair) that happened in the last month or so. I’m talking about things that happened a year or more ago that you just can’t stop talking about.

I’ve heard some couples tell the same story of disappointment or anger toward their spouse at least once a month in our work together. It gets to the point where I’ve heard the story so often I tell them, “Guys, we’ve talked about this. I know that happened. When are we moving on?” And I know if I’m feeling that way the spouse is feeling it to a much greater degree.

When you have unforgiveness toward your spouse for any reason, you HAVE to get rid of it or it will absolutely eat away at your heart. Unforgiveness makes you forget that there is some good about your spouse. It makes you forget about the sweet things your spouse has done and it blinds you to any act of love that they show you.

If you can’t forgive your spouse for past hurts, you cannot have a healthy relationship.

Rid Yourself of Unnecessary Expectations:

Most problems in marriage are due to unmet expectations. These could be smaller expectations (my spouse should have had dinner prepared when I came home from work) or bigger expectations (if my spouse loved me, they would know what I need right now).

There are definitely some expectations that are warranted, such as expecting your spouse to be faithful to you and not to engage in addictive behaviors. But much of the time, couples are guilty of holding their spouses to unmet expectations.

How do you know if you are doing this? You get upset when your spouse doesn’t perform a certain task or when they make the same silly mistake they’ve made time and time again. If you believe that your way is best and your spouse simply doesn’t add up in some way, you’re engaging in putting expectations on them that simply can’t be met.

Rid Yourself of Toxic Thoughts and Attitudes:

Psychologists often teach that your thoughts about yourself or about a situation affect your mood and your behaviors. For instance, if you believe that things will not work out well for you, you often develop depression. Your thoughts determine how you live life.

Scripture teaches the same thing. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Again, what you believe about yourself affects the way that you see your world.

How many jokes have you heard about marriage being a mistake? How many couples have you known that say they are unhappy in their marriage or that they are shocked when they see a happy couple?

If you expect that your marriage is bad and will remain unhappy, you are sure to prove yourself right. The good news is that many marriages are happy. In fact, the greatest predictor of a happy marriage is simply to believe that it can exist and that you can have it.

Do you need some help believing that your marriage can be improved? Try this:

  1. Pray for God to work in your marriage. Pray that he will help you to become one with your spouse and that he will search your heart and show you the areas that you need to change. Choose to pray for your spouse instead of about your spouse.
  2. Ask yourself, “Do I have any unforgiveness for my spouse? Do I place unnecessary expectations on my completely human spouse? Do I wallow in doubts about my marriage or focus on the negative?” If any of this is present, work now to make changes.
  3. Purchase a copy of “The Lies Couples Believe” and go through the exercises. This book is an excellent resource for gaining a healthy perspective about marriage.

If you haven’t already, sign up for my list to receive my free e-guide, “Becoming One.” This resource will help you examine three areas in your marriage (friendship, attraction, love) to see where your marriage needs to grow. It also includes help for growing each of those areas.

As always, my hope and prayer for you is that God will help you to truly experience oneness in your marriage.

May your marriage be a reflection of Christ’s love for us. Blessings to you!

Jessica

 

Dr. Jessica McCleese is a wife, a licensed psychologist, and a sexual educator with specialized training in sex therapy who works with Christian couples looking to improve their marriages and their sex lives using biblically-based principles. Jessica serves on the advisory board for Millennials for Marriage, is an educator through the Christian Association of Sexual Educators, and a licensed psychologist at her private practice in Norfolk, VA. She has a unique ability to connect with others and lead them through practical steps they can take to see improvements in their marriage and currently serves people internationally through her work at BeFullyWell.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “Three Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Marriage

  1. That was a very inspiring post. We were going through all of that, and turned around to start living intentionally. It has just about reversed all of those.

    • Yes, Linda. Intentionality is so important in relationships. We can expect marriage to come easily, but it really does require some work. Luckily, it’s fun work with a great pay off. 🙂

    • I definitely agree with you, Tara. That can be a vicious cycle too. Poor relationships lead to poor health and poor health has a negative impact on your relationship. Gotta stop that cycle, right? 🙂

  2. This are three toxins we don’t want in our marriages. My husband always says that every issue in our marriages link back to being selfish. I try to remember that and adjust my attitude when I’m tempted to allow something toxic into our marriage.

    • Great point. My hubby and I often say the same thing. If couples would just learn to think of the other first (so much easier said than done) the relationship wouldn’t be nearly as difficult.