A Healthy marriage can be simplified into just two (2) simple words, framed by your own culture and values: Respect and Love.
Mutual respect is the backbone of a healthy relationship, without it anything goes. Respect set the tone of your conversation, the words that you choose to use or not use with each other, what you choose to say or not say about each other. Respect set the stage for what (or who) you choose to bring into or leave out of your marriage. Respect guides your decisions when you are away from your spouse, be it out at work, socializing with friends, or away on the road or on a business trip. The degree of respect you have for yourself, will trickle down to the level of respect you show to your spouse. Do you respect yourself?
Some characteristics of lack of respect in a relationship include but are not limited to yelling, using profanity, name calling, belittling, degrading, forcefulness and any form of physical aggression.
What does respect (or lack of) looks like in your relationship? Is disrespect the norm or the exception in your marriage? Do you, personally, value respect? Do a quick assessment of respect in your marriage.
Mutual love, is like the brain, the engine, the driving force of a healthy relationship. Love, though complex, in its simplest form it means to focus on or to uplift your spouse’s need above your own. It means to treat your spouse with kindness. It is not quid pro quo. Just one person can take the initiative to love, which can have an exponential effect on the relationship, a domino effect. But mutual love is more durable, easier on the heart, and creates a more pleasant environment. Nonetheless, one person must first take the initiative and the other can follow suit. When each spouse focus on meeting the other’s need rather than being preoccupied with his/her own unmet needs, a healthy relationship becomes attainable. Keep in mind that we are social beings and no one person can or ever will meet all the needs of another. Focus on the needs that are within the bounds of your role as a spouse and of a healthy relationship.
If you are feeling unloved, chances are your spouse is feeling the same way too. When you realize that your needs aren’t being met, do communicate your needs to your spouse. But don’t demand it. Go the extra mile and ask yourself, “Am I loving my spouse? Am I meeting my spouse’s need? How am I showing love to my spouse?” Make it a practice to focus on your spouse’s need before your own; then watch and see the changes that takes place in your marriage.