Building a good marriage with your spouse

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry
Updated February 7, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The media often portrays a good marriage as an effortless daydream. They say that when true love is present, hardships and trying times cease to exist. Pop culture suggests that there is little to be done for weatherproofing the relationship to make it through difficult times. But a good marriage can, in reality, take a lot of time and energy to cultivate, especially if you'd like to maintain the health of your relationship throughout life. Let's take a deeper dive into what steps you can take to promote a healthy relationship with your spouse.

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What makes a good marriage?

There are many misconceptions about a good marriage. It is not necessarily faultless, free from disagreements, arguments, and fights. Doubts or worries will likely occasionally be present. Likewise, the relationship probably won't always be amazing and effortlessly blissful.

A good marriage may be defined not by a lack of difficulties but rather by how the parties handle problems. A great partnership can bring many benefits, not the least of which is being able to take on life with someone that you deeply care about, trust, and love. To reap the rewards of a good marriage, you generally need to ensure that it is nurtured and cared for.

The battles inside the mind

Where do anxieties, doubts, and fears come from? The answer is more complicated than it might seem. Many issues that arise in marriages are not relationship-ending calamities but rather small disagreements that spiral out of control.

Winning the battle inside the mind is often essential to knocking out little things before they become real problems.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

That is not to say that doubts should never be addressed in anything but a skeptical light. Consider if doubts have any real base. If so, they should be handled in a conversation between partners.

Communication

Communication is often considered one of the most vital aspects of any relationship.

Larger conflicts typically form from a failure to face smaller issues together. For instance, ignorance of grievances or perceived slights will typically only cause them to fester. If repressed, what was once considered a minor problem can grow out of control. If left unaddressed, they can feel too large to face. A terrible cycle of ignoring small problems may begin to take over the relationship.

To combat this, try your best to shine a light on unaddressed problems. Things kept hidden away in our heads and from partners are usually beneficial to no one. Once these issues are discussed positively and constructively, they can be worked through. However, the process is not always easy. Discussing resentments can be painful, but the discomfort is almost certainly much less excruciating than years of silence. Settling issues is typically an integral part of a good marriage.

Self-improvement

Much of the dissatisfaction in marriage can come from stagnation or even a fear of personal regression. Partners may feel like they must sacrifice aspects of their personal self or goals to maintain their relationship. They might also feel like prioritizing themselves is less of a priority or struggle to find time to participate in their own hobbies and passions.

Working to incorporate self-improvement into a relationship can be a vital part of building one that lasts. Picking up a new hobby, trying new things, and working on self-improvement can all enhance one's place in a relationship. It may be beneficial to strive to create an environment where growth is praised and appreciation for a partner's improvements is cherished.

Furthermore, personal growth can bring meaning to life outside of the relationship. It provides something to work on and feel proud of. The value of growth cannot be overstated, especially in a long-term marriage where routines are in place and monotony can start to set in.

The little things

Focusing on the little things doesn't have to mean getting upset when a partner does something that may be annoying, like leaving the dishes out or forgetting to take care of the groceries. Instead, target the little things a partner does that you appreciate.

Monotony generally presents itself when there is a lack of excitement. Break that cycle! Do something unexpected and kind for a partner, even if it's just a small act. Going the extra mile for a loved one may not be hard or require much effort.

Passion - inside and outside of the bedroom

A good sex life can be an important part of a marriage, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. Some marriages don't involve frequent sexual activity or any at all. Asexuality is a sexual orientation in which a person experiences little to no sexual attraction, but asexual people can still participate in meaningful and healthy relationships. Even if you aren't on the asexuality spectrum, it's okay to want to find other ways to show your passion and love for your partner. 

Below are five ways partners commonly display love:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

These are known as the five love languages. Everyone values different combinations of these love languages. As a result, knowing or having at least an idea of what a partner appreciates can be crucial. Keeping notes of what a lover likes to do for their spouse and what they love most about what they receive can reveal their personal love language.

Money

One of the top reasons for divorce is often some sort of money problem. Whether it be overwhelming debt, unpaid bills, or upcoming expenses, poor money management skills can test a marriage. The problem itself is not always money. It can also be how money is thought of. Some partners may view finances differently than others, which can act as a source of conflict in the long term.

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Expectations

What should a healthy marriage look like? This question is often answered with notions that are spread through the media of what a marriage ought to look like. Having a goal for a solid marriage is not bad, but trying to form a relationship using misguided information can be a recipe for disaster.

Try your best to drop any detailed and specific expectations of what a marriage should be. Instead, try to build the best version of a relationship with your spouse. You may discover that this is the key to a great marriage.

Seek professional help

Sometimes, building a healthy and happy marriage is too difficult for just the couple in question to manage. Receiving professional guidance and help can make working through conflict, communicating effectively, and celebrating love for one another easier. 

One of the simplest ways to seek help is through online therapy. Because it can be available from nearly anywhere with an internet connection, online therapy is convenient and affordable for many who choose to pursue it.

Research supports the efficacy of online therapy, especially for couples. One study found that the distance that online therapy actually helps some couples more effectively connect to their therapist and work through their concerns. Participants in the study found that they felt comfortable opening themselves more online than in-person, which may mean that online therapy can help you make progress more quickly and easily. 

Takeaway

Like many things in life, building a good and happy marriage often takes time, effort, and patience. Learning how to communicate well, understand one another, and navigate conflicts when they arise are all great ways to get started. Of course, long-term maintenance is also likely necessary, which an online therapist through a platform like BetterHelp or Regain can help with. There may not be one key to a perfect marriage, but through hard work and a lot of love, you can likely build something to last a lifetime.

Marriage can come with complex challenges

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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