Being mentally aware is an important part of marriage.
It’s no question that mental health matters. We want to get the help we need to make sure we feel good in our own minds. However, the state of our mental health takes on whole new meaning in marriage.
Studio 5 Marriage and Family Contributor Dr. Liz Hale says that because marriage is a team sport, our mental health can directly affect our partner and our relationship. She shares five ways to become more mentally aware in marriage.
5 Ways to Be Mentally Aware in Marriage
It doesn’t matter! Talking about nothing means everything. The smallest units of intimacy are talking about the mundane. What is important is taking the time to talk together. Talking strengthens relationships, fosters closeness, and adds positivity to the relationship. Sharing these day-to-day conversations increases the likelihood that those deeper connections and conversations will happen.
Partners deepen connections when they take the time to check-in and update each other about something going on in their life. What’s communicated is, “I want you involved in my life.”
Talking is also the most DANGEROUS thing we do. So mind your tones and words.
Emotional connection helps bonds us. When we feel emotionally disconnected, our sense of security is threatened causing us to become fearful. An alarm goes off in the amygdala and a sense of panic sets in as cortisol rises.
Turning toward one another is a subtle, brief positive exchange that deepens a couple’s emotional connection.
Interactions can be verbal or nonverbal:
A gentle touch
A hug or kiss
A kind remark or text
A playful gesture
One key secret to lasting love among couples is turning toward each other in little ways every day. “Small loving things done often,” is a Gottman mantra.
Fun increases closeness and intimacy. Play is the brain’s source of joy. Play engages neurotransmitters related to joy and well-being. When couples re-prioritize how time is spent with the understanding that play is an essential part of their relationship several things happen: There is
more joy, feelings of connection, less stress, more laughter, great role modeling for the kiddos, and increased attraction and intimacy.
Without play, there is an increased risk for relationship difficulties even when other parts of the relationship are going well. Play buffers the impact of life’s challenges. Peace and stability is the byproduct of play.
It doesn’t matter whether partners feel stressed and anxious or victorious and happy. What does matter is that partners don’t feel alone in both the high times and the low times.
A couple’s ability to stay present to each other in both good and bad moments creates a solid foundation for the relationship. There is this belief that, “my partner gets me and my emotions and accepts me, “as is.” It doesn’t get much better than that – to be known, accepted and loved!
What’s more important than an apology is a repair attempt. “I’m sorry” can leave a lot to be desired and isn’t nearly as powerful as “I really blew that, and I can see how I broke your heart. Please forgive me.” Or, “Can I have a do-over?”
Dr. John Gottman touts repair as one of the most important relationship skills. We can’t always avoid conflict, we are not perfect, so when partners make mistakes and hurt one another, it’s essential to have ways to repair the relationship.
Repair conflict and negative interactions by acknowledging your part in what didn’t go right. Describe yourself, not your partner.