We want to be healthy. 41.3 million Americans currently belong to some kind of fitness club. Americans spend an average of more than $30 billion each year on weight-loss products and services. Americans spend about $27 billion on yoga products annually. Yet, how many ask if our marriage is healthy? Would we be willing to spend time and money to help make our relationship healthy?
But, what makes a relationship healthy? Researchers have identified seven habits of stable couple and marital relationships:
First, couples must CHOOSE to make their relationship a priority. This includes making a sustained commitment to the relationship, exploring what it means to create a healthy marriage, and envisioning a healthy future together.
Second, time must be given to KNOWing each other. People must move from an idealized knowledge of their partners to a real, intimate knowledge. Time must be given for sharing intimate thoughts and feelings.
Third, genuine CARE must be demonstrated. Individuals should understand partner’s pressures and needs, be respectful in valuing differences, and be intentionally express support and kindness.
Forth, couples need to CONNECT with a supportive community. This includes cultivating relationships with extended family members, serving together in community groups and organizations, and finding joint sources of meaning (spirituality and values).
Fifth, people have to SHARE their feelings, interest, and time. Couples must be willing to accept influence from each other, be positive in their communication, and be make time to be together.
Sixth, couples must MANAGE differences and stresses. People need to learn coping skills that include maintaining a positive emotional climate, team-oriented decision-making, and offering forgiveness.
Last, individuals need to maintain CARE FOR SELF. This includes maintaining good physical health (eating, sleeping, and physical fitness), avoiding dangerous behaviors like substance abuse, and learning to effectively manage stress.
Getting fit physically is a worthy goal. Getting fit relationally should be a worthy goal too. In fact, the two are linked. Adults in healthy marriages have lower stress levels and better health habits. Also, couples in healthy relationships experience overall better mental and physical health.