Sports & Fitness

Making Your Marriage Work

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by Jenny Weiss Baldwin

He bends down on one knee and almost shyly reaches into his front pocket. He pulls out a small, delicate box. Her breath catches. Could it be?

With hands trembling, he opens the box and whispers the question she longs him to ask.

"Yes!" she exclaims as she wraps her arms around the one she loves. Her best friend. Her forever.

Do you remember that moment? Close your eyes and recapture that breathtaking, life-altering experience.

The "in love" experience is what has gotten you here. As sweet as those feelings are, it takes so much more to make a solid marriage. A strong marriage relies on strong communication, the ability to deal with stressful situations in a healthy manner and expressing your love to your spouse.

Keeping An Open Dialogue
Good communication is vital for a healthy marriage. When a couple”s communication lines are down, stress and frustration enter the relationship and begin to tear down the bond of trust and commitment that marriage is supposed to symbolize.

Barbara Bartlein, clinical psychotherapist and author of "Why Did I Marry You Anyway? 12.5 Strategies for a Happy Marriage," shares that one of the most important parts of communication is giving your spouse the opportunity to express their point of view without domineering the conversation.

"Listen, listen, listen. Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand their perspective," Bartlein says. "There will be some things you never understand. Just agree that there are things like that, and agree that sometimes you will disagree."

If you and your spouse disagree on a particular issue, don”t avoid it, Bartlein advises.

"Research shows that the couples most likely to get divorced are those that avoid conflict," states Bartlein. "When a disagreement does arise, listen carefully to each other”s point of view.  If you are having difficulty, stop talking and start writing. Write down what you believe is the other person”s point of view. That will help clarify information."

What if in the chaos of daily life, you and your spouse have lost that sense of connectedness? Bartlein offers some ideas on getting the communication flowing between you and your loved one.

  • Repeat what your spouse is saying to you. This confirms to your loved one that you are listening.
  • Use questions and statements to clarify what he is saying by using such phrases as "So what you”re telling me is this" or "What I am hearing is that this makes you feel like this."
  • Ask your spouse to share something that they have never told you. Ask about his favorite game as a child, or ask her to share a story about her and her family. Amazing conversations can arise out of sharing stories, and you will learn more about the one you love.

Under Pressure: Easing the stress in your marriage
No one is perfect, so when you join two imperfect people, stressful situations are bound to arise. Maybe for you and your spouse it is financing, spending time with in-laws or not being able to spend enough quality time together.

Relationship coach and author of "Making your Marriage Work" Alan R. Stafford advises that the most important part of dealing with a stressful situation in a marriage is to communicate your concerns to your spouse.

"Learn to acknowledge your stresses, worries, insecurities to your partner," Stafford says. "Don”t assume he or she knows. Different things stress each of us. Your partner needs to learn what stresses you without judgment or disapproval."

As in everything, there are two sides to every story. You may feel one way about your spending habits and he may feel entirely different. You may think one thing is a s