Healthy couples create an atmosphere of emotional safety for each other, which in turn, keeps their minds and bodies healthy. Healthy couples aren't without conflict. In fact, conflict is normal in healthy relationships. The difference is outstanding marriages have two outstanding communicators who respectfully resolve conflict. Healthy couples are open, honest and deal with issues, even difficult ones as they arise. They don't involve other people, unless it's a professional, and they make their relationship a positive priority. That keeps the relationship healthy, and benefits their own emotional and physical health.
The opposite is detrimental to both, especially when chronic. When a couple has constant, unrelenting stress --it takes a toll on their emotional and physical health. Stress without relief can disturb the body’s internal balance, which may lead to headaches, stomach upset, high blood pressure and even chest pain. Stress is also linked to heart disease and cancer, among other health problems. Cleveland Clinic’s Ted Raddell, Ph.D., says the quality of a marriage is important to the quality of overall health. “Headaches, stomach issues, certainly the common things, muscle tension, but if that persists, you have unremitting stress then it affects our immune functioning and then we’re more vulnerable to all kinds of potential physical problems,” says Raddell. One recent study links marital conflict and depression to poor digestive health. While another study suggests strained relationships may be connected to an increased risk for heart disease. Dr. Raddell said this mind-body connection is well known among physicians. He says stress, in general, produces a ‘fight or flight’ response which is designed to help in emergencies, but it's constantly activated it can cause wear and tear on the body --both physical and emotional. Dr. Raddell says the impact on health is greatest when relationship stress becomes chronic. “The longer the time distrust persists, over the course of months versus weeks, is probably where you’re more likely to see some of those physical symptoms,” he says. Dr. Raddell encourages couples to seek help sooner rather than later if they’re struggling and in distress. He says when a spouse can create an atmosphere of emotional safety for their partner, the nervous system shifts into “rest and digest" mode and all body systems function optimally. Trust and outstanding communication are keys to feeling emotionally and physically safe within a healthy marriage. More tips on how to have an outstanding marriage below. SOURCES: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30098513 AND https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-amp0000123.pdf
If you want to have an outstanding marriage, you have to be an outstanding communicator.
10 Ways To Improve Communication In Marriage
1. Model respectful listening
Top of the list – take responsibility. Don’t wait for your spouse to make the first move – step up and listen already. Good listeners tend to get listened to in return.
2. Choose to be genuinely interested in what your spouse has to say
Yes, it’s a choice. You say you love her? Then don’t tune her out when the conversation is not about something you like. Make the effort to attend that PTA event together – you might have something to talk about. Read that Jane Austen book she loves so much; watch her favorite HGTV home makeover show with her; walk hand in hand around the art show; show some interest in her friends. Make the choice to be interested.
- “I’m looking forward to our date on Friday!”
- “Here are some things I want us to talk to Junior’s teacher about. What do you think?”
- “Thanks for bringing me lunch yesterday; I love you so much!”
- “I enjoyed shooting the breeze with you. Let’s meet for coffee and chat some more.”
4. Schedule regular, media-free family mealtimes
This applies to both communication in marriage and the family dynamic. Meals can be communication opportunities par-excellence. They are informal family meetings and workshops where parents both teach manners and model as examples. Plus mealtimes are an awesome ongoing opportunity – with or without children – to keep communication flowing.
5. Keep the television turned off. TV as constant background is
- An invitation to tune out relationships
- A strong message about what is important (and unimportant) in a home
- A distraction that will always suck attention away from one another
- An excuse to avoid communication
6. Make eye contact when you are talking
Also make good use of touch, responsive and reflective feedback, and body language (smiles, gestures, head tilts, raised eyebrows, nods, etc.) to demonstrate that communication is actually occurring.
7. Do not look at your phone while interacting with your spouse
It sends a clear message of priorities.
8. Avoid surface level or single word responses
When talking with your spouse, it’s too easy to brush off real communication, squash first-order interaction, and signal your spouse that you are not really interested.
9. Designate a central location for all important reminders, dates, and messages.
Maybe a large calendar on the refrigerator – or a bulletin board in the kitchen – or a white-board by the front door.
10. Include your spouse as a Friend in all your social media lists.
No one should get more of your time than your spouse. Include one another as primary contacts, keep one another “in the loop”, send one another messages every day, and act as if you are each other’s best friend. Chances are, you will be.
Outstanding communicators in a healthy marriage translates to great health
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“The secret to a happy marriage is if you can be at peace with someone within four walls, if you are content because the one you love is near to you, either upstairs or downstairs, or in the same room, and you feel that warmth that you don’t find very often, then that is what love is all about.” -Bruce Forsyth