Building a ‘healthy marriage:
While wedded bliss may be a reality backed by sociological science, it does not automatically result from saying, “I do,” at the altar. Hard work and following the basic rules of human relationships are necessary factors in the creation of a healthy marriage – which is the taproot of the happy marriage.
There’s also another truism: A healthy marriage is not a static reality. “Couples don’t either have a healthy marriage or not have it,” said Kristin Anderson Moore, who is a social psychologist and also president of Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies the factors affecting children and their families. “Rather, couples have healthy marriages to varying degrees, in varying respects, and the quality of the same marriage may differ over time.”
In a report titled, “What Is ‘Healthy Marriage?’ Defining the Concept,’” Moore and other Child Trends researchers stated: “If the partners are interested and motivated, a healthy marriage is capable of being built, changed, or modified.”
Communication, for example, is a key element. But Moore insisted that “it is not the sheer amount of communication that is important” but the content of it – the “quality and nature of the communication.”
For example, she said, “researchers have identified negative patterns such as ‘rejecting a wife’s influence,’ ‘negative start-up’ (starting conversations with blame or criticism), and ‘flooding’ (overwhelming your partner with negative expressions).”
On the other hand, communication that is more helpful is always respectful, Moore noted, being characterized by a willingness to compromise and, frequently, by a sense of humor.
Since every marriage experiences conflict sooner or later, the ability to handle disagreements or difficulties is also an important factor in a healthy marriage. The resolution of conflict may involve successful problem solving, a respectful decision to ‘live and let live’, or it may involve mutual recognition that the sources of a couple’s conflict are external.
Other important elements for a healthy marriage: plenty of interaction and time together, intimacy and emotional support.