What is a healthy marriage?
How do you know when your relationship has the bill of health?
We all can tell what a bad marriage is. Signs of a failing or bad marriage include
- Shouting, yelling and angry outburst
- Giving each other the silent treatment
- Avoiding and withholding intimately – loving word, touching, kissing and caressing
- Accusation and defensiveness
And the list can go on…
But what is a great marriage?
Is it the absence of any or all of these?
Here is an incredible piece of news.
Believer it or not successful and unsuccessful marriages all have the same kind of problems.
Relationship Expert Dr. Sue Johnson gives the answer to this important question.
She first explains what a healthy marriage is NOT
“The essential element of a healthy marriage is not that you don’t fight (all couples fight), it’s not that you have to be completely similar… all couples have differences.”
Then she reveals the greatest relationship secret of all time.
“The essential element of a healthy marriage is emotional responsiveness?”
Well what in the world is emotional responsiveness?
She says that this has to do with the amount of trust and emotional connection between both of you.
I like to think of in terms of a mother and child. The child may rebel, behave badly but somehow the emotional bond between the mother and child helps the mother to move beyond these painful actions and still relate to the child.
I believe when you begin to feel the feelings of the other person regardless to the surface pain you will connect in ways that will make you overcome anything.
Sue is right. When you are emotionally connected you subconsciously know how to turn to each other for comfort and solace when it really matters. She calls this “secure attachment.”
This can be answered in questions like:
- “Are you there for me?”
- “Do I matter to you?”
- “Am I special?
- “Do you cherish me?”
- “Will come first with you?”
- “If I really need you, will you drop everything and come”
John Gottman speaks about bidding for attention.
Many times, even in simple conversation, we bid or do/say something that is an attempt to get the other person’s attention. When they stop, listen or respond and emotional connection is made. When they ignore us we become a little disconnected. Many little disconnections make us feel empty and alone. However many little connections bonds and binds us our spouses.
This helps us to feel safe in our relationship. It gives a feeling security that boosts our confidence and even our immunity – we become physically healthier.
“If you have that kind of marriage it makes you astronomically stronger, you feel better about yourself, you are more confident, you are more able to deal with stress and you are more resilient.” Sue Johnson
By the way I have to tell you that to be connected emotionally is a need that is wired into our brains. That is why we crave for connection in love and relationship.
photo credit: Miss Stella
So how can you connect emotionally to your spouse?
- Do things together. Activities that are challenging and even humorous help us bond and connect on a deeper level.
- Spent time talking and enjoying each other company.
- Touch. Although touching is a physical thing, the way we touch stimulates the brains and emotions with messages of love and connectivity.
Feel free to explore more free relationship tips on this site for ideas on how to make your relationship strong, happy and lasting.
Here are 27 elements of a healthy marriage that scientist have found to be essential to a great marriage.