Healthy Marriages Require More Than Just Love

Love gets you on the road to a healthy marriage. It can get and keep you in the game and help to keep you on the road.

Love is not enough, however, to play the game well. Love is not enough to get you where you want to go. Love is not enough for a healthy marriage.

Marriages are a test of our emotional and life skills. Since most of us were never taught many of these skills, it is no surprise that so many marriages, even those that are based in love, are a continual struggle and often fall apart.

The following is a list of interrelated emotional and life skills that are necessary for a well-functioning marriage. As you read through the list, ask yourself: Which of these am I good at? Which of these do I need to improve? Which of these are hard or nearly impossible for me? Are there any skills that I think are missing from this list?

* An ability to know and name your emotions at any given time.

* An ability to communicate your emotions verbally and directly.

* An ability to manage the full range of your emotions without acting out destructively toward yourself or others. (Acting out destructively means channeling your internal feelings into behaviors that cause emotional or physical damage to yourself or others.)

* An understanding of what helps you to manage emotions, and a willingness and ability to seek those supports when necessary.

* An ability to tolerate feeling a lack of connection to your partner sometimes.

* An ability to disconnect from other people, technology, and other types of stimulation, and to be alone with yourself.

* An awareness of your physical needs and a willingness to make choices that optimize your physical health.

* An ability to be emotionally present for a loved one even when you are unable to do anything to fix his or her pain or suffering.

* An ability to laugh at yourself.

* An ability to see how your actions, even when well-meant, can sometimes negatively affect others.

* An ability to apologize and take responsibility for the way your actions affect others.

* An ability to communicate verbally, directly, gently, and respectfully to others when their actions affect you negatively.

Read more: Danielle B. Grossman, MFT, PsychCentral

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