Written by: Amy Buchanan, LCMHCA
There is a large misconception that people who seek couple’s counseling are all in crisis. This is like saying that all people who exercise are overweight. There are many benefits to maintaining a strong marriage or relationship, much like regularly caring for your body through daily physical activity. Life throws us many challenges and it has been my experience that the ups and downs of life are navigated easier when couples regularly take time to make their relationship a priority. Professional counseling provides a strong foundation for emotional stability and problem solving for when unexpected challenges are faced. Benefits of a healthy and strong marriage include improved physical health, better physical fitness, longer lifespan, decrease in stress, higher self-esteem, improved productivity at work, higher median income, healthier and happier children, greater sense of purpose and meaning, and an overall sense of community, belonging and support.
Although every couple is unique with different personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs, there are some common factors that provide an advantage for long term happiness and success. Healthy couples have a fondness for each other including finding the good in each other. Healthy couples share dreams and goals with each other. Additionally, healthy relationships turn toward each other in times of crisis instead of away from each other, and they work toward conflict management instead of avoiding it. Lastly, healthy marriages have a positive perspective that includes a five to one average ratio of positive interactions to negative.
Making time for your spouse or partner is critically important to the overall health of your relationship as well as laying a foundation for longevity. The three most common subjects that couples argue about are communication, sexual intimacy, and finances. Arguments and conflict cannot be completely avoided. However, dedicating time to each other to focus on these common areas can reduce the frequency and intensity of the conflict. There are five essential commitments that invest in a healthy marriage:
- 30 minutes of daily conversation
- 1 hour a week “state of the union” to discuss household business.
- Weekly couple only date
- Daily cuddle time or physical touch
- Establishing rituals about sex
During the summer it can be difficult to find the time to commit to daily and weekly communications. However, the investment will pay off in long term dividends through a fulfilling marriage and strong family system. Having a date night can be simple and inexpensive if you are creative! Take advantage of happenings in the local community to get out and enjoy time together. Dating can be playful, adventurous, romantic, or practical. Some ideas for summer dates include:
- Taking a walk or hike
- Sitting outside to look at the stars
- Plan and cook a meal together
- Learn a new sport together
- Learn couple’s massage
- Write love letters to each other
- Go fishing together
- Plan a picnic
- Play a board game or card game together
- Read a book together
Your family is worth the investment to find joy, satisfaction, health, and happiness. Couples counseling can provide that fresh perspective for your relationship. I love using tools like The Five Love Languages, the Enneagram, challenges and homework to make the process fun and engaging. Adding new ideas, ways to communicate, and accountability can help with recurring issues in a marriage or get couples out of a slump. Remember, you get out of it when you put into it!
Amy Buchanan, LCMHCA is a Gottman Trained therapist and passionate advocate for healthy marriages. She has a special interest in serving first responders and is trained in using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She is available for scheduling in Denver & Mooresville as well as virtually. You can visit her bio and learn more about her here.