6 Tips for Having Sound Mental Health in Your Marriage
I believe there’s no better shield against loneliness and isolation than marriage, and mentally healthy couples enjoy better marriages. Research shows married couples have fewer mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, and enjoy overall good health.
But sometimes, we can encounter issues that challenge the state of our mental health: the loss of a loved one, a change in jobs or a household move, the stress of childrearing… all of these can affect our mental well-being, and sometimes our marriage.
How can you ensure a solid, long-lasting marriage while dealing with mental health issues?
1. Don’t try to do it alone.
Many people striving to reclaim sound mental health try to do so on their own. With growing multitude of online, print and real-life support resources, it doesn’t make sense to fight this battle alone. Facing a mental health challenge is nothing to be ashamed of, and opening up to your spouse about your situation can help bring you both closer. It demonstrates that you trust your partner enough to confide in them, and good marriages are built on trust. Don’t hesitate to put words to whatever it is that is causing you mental duress. Let your partner help support you. You may even find that they are feeling the same way! You can find support groups, a wealth of articles and helpful tools and tips, all a mere click away on the net. It’s never been easier to find help.
2. Don’t make your partner your therapist.
While your partner can be part of your mental health support network, it is not appropriate for them to be a sole source of support. Be sure to reach out to a qualified, trained therapist who has the expertise to help you find the right solutions for your situation.
You may want to bring your partner to your sessions. Ask your therapist if it would be valuable to have your partner attend one or more of your therapy sessions with you. This would certainly be something to explore if part of your mental health struggles are linked with something occurring in the marriage.
3. Be authentically you.
It is hard to strive towards sound mental health if you are consumed with presenting an image that is not honest. The real you is valuable, and your partner (and others) deserve to see who that person is, flaws and all. No one expects you to be perfect, and trying to have the “perfect, Pinterest-worthy” life is exhausting. Be yourself, and be loved for that self. It is more than enough.
4. Follow good health guidelines.
To reclaim and maintain sound mental health, make sure you, with the help of your therapist, devise a set of good health guidelines. Write these out as a checklist, and review this each day, making sure you address each point. Some standard suggestions might include enough sleep, a well-balanced diet that includes more fresh fruits and vegetables and less refined sugar and alcohol, some “me” time devoted to meditation or just focusing on your breathing, and reaching out to your community.
5. Work your guidelines at your own pace.
We have a tendency to compare ourselves with others in similar situations. This is not helpful, however, as everyone moves towards sound mental health at their own pace. Comparison is the thief of joy, so let go of this urge. The only person you need to compare yourself with is yourself. Are you feeling better today than you were yesterday? Are you abiding by your good health guidelines? Are you interacting with those in your community? If you feel that some days you are falling short of these goals, let yourself have a rest day. There will be days where you will need to coast, and that is OK. You cannot make forward movement without stopping sometimes to recharge. You’ll be back on track tomorrow.
6. Keep your marriage at the forefront.
I believe a good marriage is the backbone of sound mental health. Pay attention to cultivating and tending to the state of your relationship as a couple. A happy home transfers its joy to each person in that home — it’s a virtuous cycle. Knowing you have a strong marriage can sometimes be the key to weathering the hard times and getting back to sound mental health quickly.
When you are back in your game, make sound mental health a priority. You have gone through a difficult passage but are now back to being the happy, joyous you. To keep things on an even keel, remember to follow your good health guidelines each and every day. Don’t neglect to check in from time to time with your therapist as needed so that you stay happy, mentally healthy and strong.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.
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Thinkstock photo via MarinaMariya.