As you prepare for your big day, and cross off each of the things you have to do on that seemingly endless list, one area you shouldn’t neglect to focus on is developing healthy marriage habits. Of course, seeing as you and your partner are about to get married, it’s pretty clear that you have a solid foundation. But are you really prepared for the challenges and obstacles that marriage can (and probably will) throw your way?
The commitment period is a great time to fine-tune your relationship and focus on areas where each of you can improve. One of these areas has to do with your daily habits. How do you communicate, spend time together, have fun, etc.?
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To help you along the way, we asked relationship experts to share some of the most important healthy marriage habits to work on and develop during your engagement.
As any relationship expert will tell you, communication is a key healthy habit in marriage. It is not only important that you talk with your partner, but also that you do so frequently, not just once in a while. “When they’re not in touch with each other, they may not realize that there are seeds of pain or annoyance that could grow into problems if not addressed early on,” says Laurel House, dating and relationship expert and host of the Man Whisperer podcast. “By making it a priority to sign up and talk about how you feel about the relationship, it addresses those seeds before they have a chance to sprout, plus it takes your relationship out of focus and back into focus.” Regular couples therapy sessions can exponentially improve the health of your relationship, and apps like Lasting make therapy convenient and fun.
Listen to your partner.
Too often we are the ones speaking in conversation instead of doing what we really should be doing: listening. That is why House recommends paying close attention to how your partner is feeling and taking steps to improve their situation. “If your partner calls you on the way home from work and says he’s in a bad mood, draw a hot bath with bubbles, candles, and a glass of wine so they can get their feet wet the moment they get home.” suggests. “They don’t need to think, they just need you to take care of them.”
Maintain proper hygiene.
If you are already clean, tidy and organized, you are on the right track. But if you’re on the messy side – leaving your hair all over the bathroom sink and your clothes strewn all over the floor – now is the time to step up your game. “If you don’t live together yet, take time to stay at each other’s house and see how they maintain the place,” suggests Professor Keba Richmond Green, a psychotherapist and relationship expert. “All of these things can be fun and challenging in a relationship, so they won’t cause problems in the future.”
Laugh a lot.
Keeping it light is another healthy marriage habit that will ensure a successful and happy relationship. “Turning a bitter moment into a fun moment with a little humor gives you the opportunity to take a step back and see the conversation from another angle,” says Professor Green. “Build lifelong memories together, don’t worry about the little things and, above all, don’t compare yourself to others.”
Kiss or hug each time you say “hello” and “bye.”
It’s easy to kick the habit of touching, but House notes that physical contact is an emotional connector that reminds you to take a moment to be present together. “Once you play, you may want to play more, but when you kick the habit of playing, it can sometimes be difficult to break through the touch barrier again and you start to grow physically and emotionally distant,” he adds.
Know who you are.
It may sound pretty simple, basic, and, well, obvious, but think a bit more deeply about the meaning of this statement. Do you really know what you represent as an individual? And what are your core values? “Being aware of what your values are and how you can strengthen each one of them keeps you committed to being your best and most authentic self,” says House. “Once you have confidence in your values, you have confidence in yourself, which is important in a marriage.”
Have a life outside of your relationship.
Believe it or not, but individuality is one of the most important components to a successful partnership, according to House. “If you’re not passionate about your career, find another passion, find additional work, volunteer at one of your favorite nonprofits, just do something that inspires you, is passionate about, and is unique to you,” he says. “Unless you maintain your individuality, and continue to be the dynamic, layered person that your man or woman first fell in love with, he or she may lose interest.”
One of the most important healthy habits in marriage is also one of the easiest: Having fun! “As we age, don’t forget the power of laughter, smiling, and positive experiences as a couple,” says Mike Dow, Psy.D., Ph.D., author of Think, Act and Be Happy . “There will be mortgages to qualify for, grandparent losses, and financial blows along the way, so keep a buffer of positive experiences for the two of you to enjoy together no matter what.”
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