My amazing wife Ashley and I have interacted with married couples from all over the world and while we’ve seen many couples who are desperately struggling in their marriages, we have also seen many couples who are thriving and happy. The seven traits listed below represent some tell-tale “signs of a happy and healthy marriage. If you already have these in your marriage, keep up the great work! If you’re currently lacking these, please don’t lose hope. Start today and begin building a stronger marriage. A healthy marriage is possible for EVERY couple who is willing to work together to achieve it.
If you want a stronger marriage, start with these seven steps. The healthiest and happiest couples do the following with consistency (in no particular order):
1. Healthy couples speak respectfully about their spouse even when their spouse isn’t there to hear it.
The tone of your words when speaking to your spouse OR about your spouse will ultimately set the tone of your entire marriage. Resist the temptation to trash talk your spouse when he/she has done something you don’t like. Work through disagreements with mutual respect and protect and defend your spouse’s reputation in public and in private. Speak to each other and speak about each other with respect.
2. Healthy couples prioritize face time more than screen time*.
We live in a digital age where it can be tempting to spend more time looking at our phone and other screens more than we make eye contact with the people who matter most. The healthiest couples make time to turn off their phones so they can engage in meaningful conversation. They don’t “escape” from each other by being consumed by their devices.
3 . Healthy couples don’t keep score of each other’s past mistakes.
Your spouse has seen you at your best AND seen you at your worst. The healthiest couples choose to bring out the best in each other by celebrating and highlighting each other’s strengths and areas of growth instead of consistently holding each other down by bringing up mistakes from the past. When a couple “keeps score,” they both lose. When a couple chooses to encourage each other and extend grace, they both win. Healthy couples forgive each other quickly and work hard to rebuild trust when it has been damaged.
4. Healthy couples don’t prioritize the happiness of their kids ahead of the health of their marriage.
If you have kids, clearly you need to do everything in your power to protect and provide for them BUT one of the most destructive things you can do in your family is to put your marriage on hold while you’re raising your children. Don’t end up with an “empty nest” and an empty marriage at the same time. Give your kids the beautiful gift of seeing their parents in a loving, committed relationship. Invest in a consistent date night. Find reliable babysitters. Model the kind of marriage that makes your kids excited to be married someday.
5. Healthy couples make sex a consistent priority.
If you only make love when both spouses are equally “in the mood” at the exact same time, it’s like waiting for all the stars in the galaxy to come into perfect alignment (it doesn’t happen often). The healthiest couples prioritize sexual intimacy by trying to say “YES” as often as they can and also by trying to initiate lovemaking as often as they can. For more on how to enhance the sexual frequency, intimacy and connection in your marriage, check out our popular video series on sex and marriage (by clicking here).
6. Healthy couples don’t keep secrets from each other.
The healthiest couples have a “secret-free guarantee” in their marriage. They don’t have hidden bank accounts or secret passwords the other spouse doesn’t know about. Secrecy (or dishonesty) in any form is an enemy of intimacy. If you want your marriage to grow and thrive, don’t keep secrets and don’t tell lies to each other. Your marriage will never be stronger than the level of trust you have for each other.
7. Healthy couples build their lives on a foundation of faith.
I’m convinced that the more you love God, the more capacity you will have to love your spouse. The healthiest couples I know are the ones who pray with and for each other, they’re rooted in their faith, active in a healthy church and they’re putting their faith in action by serving together to help their community.
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