If you asked someone what he or she values most, family often ranks first or second. But if you inquire about his or her New Year’s resolutions, family does not make the top three (lose weight, stop smoking, and learn something new are the top three according to AOL). Getting “healthier” tops the list and people pursue health through diet, exercise, and supplements, but one of the most powerful predictors of health and well-being remains largely ignored. Family sociologists over the past 35 years have contributed to compelling research suggesting married people enjoy significantly greater health than the unmarried. So why doesn’t strengthening our marriage top the New Year’s resolution list? Many times we take our families and particularly our marriages for granted. We assume that since they were fine last year, they will be fine this year without much thought or effort. Just as we can become flabby and unhealthy when we do not exercise our bodies, marriages can become unhealthy as well.
What are the advantages to spending time, money, and effort on our closest relationship? “A burgeoning literature suggests that marriage may have a wide range of benefits, including improvements in individuals’ economic well-being, mental and physical health, and the well-being of their children,” is how the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Human Services summarizes the importance of marriage in 2011.
But it is not just marriage that matters, it is the quality of that marriage. According to a BYU study published in May of 2013 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, couples who are happy over the long haul stay healthier as the years pass too. This study is the latest one to emphasize the quality of marriage and find that a happy marriage bestows health benefits on its members, while conflict and hostility lead to poorer health. The impact is so important that Rick Miller, a professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and some colleagues believe health insurance should cover the cost of marriage counseling if it’s needed to strengthen a union.
The good news is that just as a body can be transformed with exercise, a marriage can be transformed as well. Today’s blog is going to focus on the “warm-up.” Subsequent posts will discuss how to increase marital fitness though core, cardio, and strength marital exercises.
Here are some tips for what you can do every day to strengthen your marriage:
Decide every morning to be happily married. This affirmation is empowering and reminds us that are marriages are the result of our decisions, not conditions.
Dedicate at least 15 minutes a day solely on your spouse where you affirm each other and merely ask, “What are you feeling?” Go ahead – write it on the to-do list!
Call or text at least one time during the day to let the other person know that you are thinking of them.
Every day, find one thing you love about your spouse and tell him or her. Try especially to remind yourself of those qualities that initially attracted you.
Just as doing stretches every day helps avoid bodily injury, keeping these daily connections helps avoid injury in the marriage as well.
At Power of Two we know how to help you keep your marriage fit and healthy for lifelong happiness. Call us and let us help you keep your marriage in shape.