Shannon Whitmore considers 7 areas of marriage that regularly need a couple’s attention – no matter how long they’ve been married.
Any couple who has been through a marriage preparation class or marriage counseling has been warned of the difficulties that come with a lack of communication between spouses. It’s one of the primary indications of future divorce, and one of the central focuses of all programs designed for marriage preparation or enrichment. You can’t have a healthy marriage without good communication.
You also can’t have good communication without addressing specific issues. Most couples find that their marital breakdowns center on a few fairly common topics. To ensure that your communication is healthy, consider addressing these seven areas that need your attention, no matter how long you’ve been married.
It might seem a little redundant, but it’s important to periodically check that there’s an adequate level of communication in your marriage. Life is hectic, and two-minute conversations might allow for the days to pass smoothly, but they won’t not enough in the long-term. Schedule regular opportunities to come together for longer, uninterrupted conversation with your spouse.
Some couples find it awkward to discuss sex even after they’ve been married for years, but dissatisfaction with sex is one of the most common complaints among married couples. Be sure to communicate your desires regarding frequency, as well as any tips to make the experience better for either party. The more couples talk about sex, the better their experience will be.
Different people deal with conflict differently. Some people need to confront it right away, while others need time to process their struggles before addressing them. It’s important to discuss your styles of approaching conflict during a calm period, rather than trying to learn and adapt in the heat of the moment. If you know how your spouse handles conflict, you’ll be able to approach it appropriately when problems arise.
Many couples face problems with their sex life when there is a lack of emotional connection. Most women will be reluctant to connect physically if they have not connected emotionally with their partner first. Be sure to communicate your emotional needs to your spouse. It might not sound very romantic, but creating a list of your favorite romantic gestures can be a great way to ensure that both you and your spouse are satisfied with the amount of emotional connection in your marriage.
If you or your spouse feels that there is a lack of appreciation in your marriage, try to find something to thank your spouse for on a daily basis, and encourage them to do the same for you. If you reserve gratitude only for those moments when your spouse assists in some out-of-the-ordinary way, they might feel like they’re taken for granted. We mothers often feel unappreciated in our roles as caregiver and homemaker, and our husbands are just as likely to feel unappreciated for their work. So make sure you thank each other regularly!
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received had to do with finances: Never say “no” to your spouse’s dream because of money (unless it contradicts one of yours, in which case, a different conversation will be needed). Whether it’s a refinished bathroom or a new lawnmower, don’t say “no.” Don’t say “we’ll see.” Say “yes.” But here’s the catch: “yes” doesn’t mean now. It could mean six months from now, or a year, or even five, but saying “yes” means that it will happen because you value each other’s dreams. Create a list, and prioritize your hopes and dreams together. Then use your money to finance your dreams at a reasonable pace.
Expectations and Assumptions
Never make assumptions. You know how that saying goes. It never pays to assume, especially in a marriage. Whenever things get rocky, consider what assumptions you’ve been making, and address them with your spouse. Make sure you both have the same expectations- about your sex life, about household chores, about parenting, about anything significant in your married lives. You’d be amazed how many times wrong assumptions regarding certain expectations are to blame for problems in marriage.
Reflection Question: What are the areas in your marriage that need the most attention? How can you and your husband improve in these areas?
Copyright 2020 Shannon Whitmore
Image copyright 2020 Shannon Whitmore. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and working in youth ministry. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.