February is Heart Health month, but it is also considered Love Month.
What if we combine them? Healthy marriages also help your heart health!
That's right. The University of Pittsburgh released a study in 2014
revealing that there exists a correlation between unhealthy marriages
and heart disease. Plaque build up in the arteries in the carotid
arteries is higher in unhappily married individuals. The health of your marriage affects the health of each person in the couple.
As a little girl, I remember seeing "Cinderella" and "Snow White" by Walt Disney at the drive-in theater. I was enthralled by magical effect the ladies being swept away by true love. Prince Charming would come and sweep each one away to live happily ever after. At the time, my parents' marriage was shattered. The yelling, screaming, and broken glass haunted my little girl mind in my dreams and waking thoughts. Later, I watched shows like the "Brady Bunch" and "Partridge Family" which depicted married couples who were able to stand strong through the trials while solving problems within the hour of the show. In my real life, my mother's second marriage was fraught with alcoholism and domestic violence. I determined in my young teen mind to have a happy marriage. I wanted the Happily Ever After, but the statistics were stacked against me. The question is, is there such a thing as happily ever after in marriage? If so, how can married couples have such a deeply satisfying marriage that can be considered a happily ever after marriage? Deeply satisfying marriages bring about a total health for the couple through thoughtful actions with a sincere heart.
If you want the Happily Ever After, here are ways you can have that in your marriage:
- Look for love from an emotionally healthy person. Often people look for appearance or sexual fulfillment when they look for a mate. If you look for someone with a healthy sense of self, how to value others, and a love for God in His goodness, you will find the qualities you really need in a marriage partner.
- Determine to make the best of your marriage together. There will be rough patches when two people with different backgrounds and personalities come together. Always assume the best in each other and you will have the best in marriage.
- Make deliberate efforts to demonstrate how much you love your mate. Go out of your way to do special things for your love. Find out what makes him or her feel loved, then do things that say, "I love you!" A good book that will help you understand this best is "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.
- Find satisfaction in the small, insignificant moments in your relationship. If you always wait for him or her to sweep you off your feet after the "I do"s, you will be very disappointed. Enjoy the moments when you snuggle, the way he or she smiles at you, how your spouse cares for your children, and simple routines things you notice daily. If you do this, you will fall in love with your sweetheart over and over.
- Overlook small infractions, forgive the hurtful moments. We are all sinners saved by grace walking through this life. We are bound to hurt or annoy each other along the way. This is, for the most part, why so many people believe that Happily Ever After doesn't exist. If you and your love learn to work on your own flaws while forgiving each other for doing and saying hurtful things, your marriage will flourish.
- Be tactfully honest about problematic issues with the intent to work them out for mutual satisfaction. Sometimes, there are big problems couples encounter. Work out the big problems, even if it means going to marriage counseling. Both people come into the relationship with baggage. The only reasons for divorce in my mind are abuse and infidelity. If you are in danger, seek a safe place to go. Get help. Otherwise, if both of you are willing to work through tough stuff, your marriage will only grow stronger.
- Set aside time to connect often. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but togetherness builds stronger connections. Go for a walk together, talk at night when you go to bed, snuggle together, enjoy each other for more than just sex. You will be glad you did!
- Give your love genuine compliments often, even in front of other people. Catch your love being wonderful and tell him or her how much you appreciate it. Never be snarky. Speak positively about and to your mate in front of other people.
- Pray together and look at God's Word together regularly. Christian couples who stay together attend church and actively practice their faith together. What God has brought together, let no man pull asunder!
- Remember to keep Jesus central in your marriage-- the "I" disappears and the "We" stands strong. I keep a picture on my cell phone of my hubby and I braiding our Cord of Three Strands on our wedding day. It is a regular reminder that Jesus Christ is at the center of our marriage. The marriage cannot and should not center around either one of you, but on Jesus Christ. He is what holds the Christian marriage together. If you keep that truth in mind, you will find the true happily ever after in your own marriage.
You can have a happy, healthy marriage when you commit to making it great. Here's to your hearts. Happy Happily Ever After! May God bless you.