Sunday, June 5, 2016

Seeking Balance In Your Marriage


Marriage has many challenges and many rewards. When healthy marital principles are not followed, a couple gets out of balance in a way that undermines marital satisfaction. Here are some guidelines which can make yours even more fruitful.

Hold onto your wedding vows. You make some serious statements of commitment right in the beginning of your marriage which often are forgotten in time. Review them, perhaps on your anniversary each year. Reflect on the power of the words you have spoken to each other. It can help remind you of the reason you married in the first place.

Create a safe environment to communicate. If it is not safe for your partner to speak the truth, the relationship will get undermined by the façade that develops in an effort to increase a person’s sense of security. Exercising self-control when angry is one necessary ingredient in providing this safe setting.

Communicate honestly. Dishonesty will undermine any relationship. Speak truth to one another at all times, even when it hurts to do so. Honesty builds trust.

Accept influence from one another. Healthy relationships take into account the desires and opinions of the other person and are willing to be influenced by them. The “my way or the highway” approach only breeds resistance and resentment, as it reflects a selfishness that is hardened against healthy influence. The old saying “two are better than one” has to be understood in the context of two people interested in helping one another, not just using one another as a means to a more selfish end.

Respect your differing strengths. In every partnership, interests and abilities will emerge that should be appreciated and respected. There may be a temptation to feel threatened and squelch the interests of your partner due to your insecurity. Instead, encourage them to develop those interests and skills.

Show appreciation. Love gets eroded in many marriages because a partner gets taken for granted after a while. Appreciation for their contributions to the relationship can prevent this from happening. You can learn new ways of showing your appreciation, but it first requires that you tune in to those contributions. Think of their value and worth as a person and to your family, and communicate it to them in a sincere manner.

Accept your sexuality. Yes, it is okay to talk about sex and to enjoy it. It is intended for pleasure and as a reinforcement of the bond in your relationship. Avoid using sex as a tool for manipulation of your partner. Resist any temptations beyond the boundaries of your marriage. Keep your sexual energy focused on your partner.

Solve problems together. Identify and brainstorm solutions to each of the problems you face. Allow the creative options to be expressed without criticism. Then evaluate together each option and decide together which you want to attempt first. Try again, if not successful.

Forgive daily. Apart from a gracious attitude that lets go of minor offenses and miscommunications, no relationship would survive. Major offenses take more work, including a serious apology with the reassurance that the offending party is making a major effort not to offend in that way again. Even when reconciliation is not advisable, it is important for you to forgive so that the negative effects of bitterness do not pull you into a dark place emotionally and even physically.

Fill each other’s “love tanks”. Tune into those areas which make your partner feel loved, and learn what behaviors on your end will help make the bond between you stronger. Is it the “I love you” stated verbally, even when your family never openly used those words? Is it different ways of making contact with one another, such as a hug or kiss when reunited at the end of a busy day? Your “habits” can change, so why not choose to help your partner feel even more loved?

If you follow the above guidelines in your marriage, you will find your marital bond grow even stronger over time. You will indeed have a more balanced marriage.

Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D., is a NJ licensed psychologist with offices in Hammonton and Linwood, NJ. He has been married for nearly 36 years, and has been working in Hammonton for the past 26 years. He can be reached at 609-567-9022 or

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