It is a well-documented fact that happy marriages can have an impact on our health - keeping us youthful, connected and invigorated.
According to Dr Robert H. Shmerling, MD, in his published Harvard Health article
There is fascinating — and compelling — research suggesting that married people enjoy better health than single people. For example, as compared with those who are single, those who are married tend to live longer and:
- have fewer strokes and heart attacks
- have a lower chance of becoming depressed
- be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time
- survive a major operation more often.
This doesn’t mean that just being married automatically provides these health benefits. People in stressful, unhappy marriages may be worse off than a single person who is surrounded by supportive and caring friends, family, and loved ones.
Paul and I have learned a lot over the years which has benefited our marriage. Some philosophical and some practical life lessons that have brought us to the happy place where we are today - celebrating 21 years of happy marriage together. We decided to share our experience, and hope it resonates with you. Let us start by saying that we also learned from a lot of mistakes, especially during our earlier marriages, where we were both much too self-focused to be able to create a healthy union. The timing for us was good.Our Philosophy: Marriage above The Individual
For us the first life lesson was that we would place the 'union' or 'relationship' at the heart of our marriage - above either person's individual interests*. When we remove our ego from discussions (which takes focus/work), we become less combative and enjoy each other. This may sound very cheesy - but believe me when you are dealing with the demands of financial challenges, ex-spouses, step-children/siblings, career demands/working together and everything else that has come our way, defending our individual position just creates division in our marriage. (Note: I have a couple of very dear friends who have been through so much more - the unexpected loss of spouse, or child - so let us not for a moment think we have it the worst - there is always someone who has far greater challenges). I am also not saying we do not have discussions, or heated disagreements, but we try and hear one another with a mind to protect our union, because this is highly valued. We agreed early on that our marriage had to come above all else, or we would not go the distance.Our Philosophy: Creating Fun Together is ImportantThe fabric of our lives are woven with memories. It is for this reason, we have to consciously schedule time to make fun together - we are all busy, so it takes effort and mindfulness. Fortunately we live near the beach and some of our happiest moments are spent near the ocean: a simple walk, talking, eating a lovely dessert, enjoying the setting of the sun or a special celebration - find your special place and visit it often. By doing this we constantly remind ourselves why we fell in love.Our Practical TipsJoint Vision- we have a vision board that we co-create every year, looking at what we both want to accomplish during the year, and together as a couple and as a family. This vision board provides us a visual manifestation in our bedroom, reminding us every day of what we want to do with our lives. We are committed to not just letting life happen to us, we want to create our life destiny. (Think about how much time some people spend on planning their vacations, but the rest of the year - they just let it happen). When you mindfully plan for things like meditation, exercise, fun, family, etc you regain control.Develop Patience
- learning patience for both of us takes work and meditation has helped us a lot with this. If you have never tried it, DO. (We like The Daily Calm
guided meditations)Don't go to bed angry
- when left to fester overnight the anger grows, and digs in. Kiss and agree to let it go. If you are really struggling, write down how you are feeling, and you will very likely reread it later and find it to be too self-focused.Accept your spouse as they are
- we all have different personalities, gifts and talents - and we have unique needs. Learn what your loved one needs and be mindful of this. If you communicate based on your
needs, you are likely to miss the mark. As an example: I need conversation to work things through and when Paul is in deep thought he withdraws - so this has been a huge learning for us, and we have to be there for the other person, the way they
need us to be.
All great marriages take focus and commitment - beyond saying 'I do'! Having said that the benefits are immense, in both our emotional and physical journey of life. Enjoy your day and may 2019 bring you and yours a reinforced union.
*NOTE: However to anyone who is in an abusive relationship - you must focus on yourself, and if applicable your children, and seek assistance.