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8 Big Signs Your Marriage Isn’t in Trouble

There's always work to be done. Taking a moment to realize how good you're doing is important.

It’s easy to get caught up on the wrong side of self-improvement, isn’t it? To focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths. This can be especially true of relationships. You know what you and your partner need to work on (because you talk about it, right?) but it’s easy to get so bogged down in the whole being-better-than-yesterday thing that you lose sight of — or don’t take the time to appreciate — the areas where you succeed. It’s a natural impulse (we humans are, after all, wired to focus more on the negative) but one to actively fight. Because in focusing on what works — whether that’s discussing each other’s points of view openly, making time for fun in your relationship, or being able to enjoy a quiet silence together — we’re able to live in the moment and enjoy the small victories. That’s a big win. So, in the effort of helping you focus on just that, here are some eight signs your relationship is doing alright. 

1. You Know You’re a Work in Progress (And You’re Willing to Do the Work) 

It’s easy to look at other couples and think Why aren’t we more like them? or to list out all the ways your relationship could be better. While comparison is the thief of joy, it’s good to have goals and keep in mind some points of improvement so forward progress can be made. Healthy couples understand that they haven’t reached perfection, and that they probably never will. They do, however, have a vision of where they want their relationship to go and are committed to doing what it takes to get there. “They understand the power of yet,” says Kathryn Ford, MD, a practicing psychotherapist and couples therapist. “As in, ‘We’re not good at offering positive comments — yet!’ The most important attribute of a good relationship is the ability to learn.” 

2. You Take Risks (And You Encourage Your Spouse to As Well) 

Trying new things, and supporting your partner when they are inspired to, say, take a new class, learn a new skill, or embark on a unique adventure, helps keep the marriage fresh. Importantly, it also provides opportunities for you to learn and grow, both independently and together. Healthy couples know to prioritize risk and to stretch beyond their comfort zone. “This means that you will fumble and make mistakes,” Ford says. “In a good relationship, you encourage each other to do this – rewarding the effort even when the results aren’t yet what you hope for.”

3. You Have Different Points of View (And You’re Open to Them) 

Healthy couples own and explore each other’s respective points of view. When you want different things, you don’t spend the discussion trying to get your way or digging in your heels on the opposite side just to spite your partner. Instead, you hear what they have to say, take it into consideration, and vice versa. Then, you compromise or relent based on whatever factors are involved. Will it be easy? No. But it’s a balance. “Treat all ideas offered as valuable,” says Ford, “and then both of you play with all points of view instead of owning one and getting into a tug of war about who’s right.”

4. You Don’t Always Talk When You’re Alone (And That’s Okay) 

Comfortable silences speak volumes. Healthy couples understand that not every moment alone together requires that the two of you have some deep and meaningful discussion. Sometimes just being together is enough. “No, you aren’t required by some command of the universe to get absolutely everything off of your chest the moment you feel it,” says Lee Wilson, a relationship coach with 20 years of experience. “That doesn’t mean that you keep everything bottled up or that you don’t have disagreements. It means that sometimes it’s a great thing after a busy day to be able to say nothing while simply resting with the one you love.”

5. You Don’t Tell Your Spouse Everything (Because It’s Unnecessary) 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be honest with your spouse. You very much should. What healthy couples understand is that they don’t need to do is voice every concern, every flaw, and every negative trait that you see in your partner. “Your job as a spouse is not to make your spouse a better person. Your job is to love your spouse,” says Wilson. “People often become better versions of themselves when they feel loved and feeling that their spouse is overly critical often has the exact opposite impact.”

6. The Fireworks Have Dimmed (But You Have Something Better) 

The early days of any relationship are filled with incredible highs and almost magical feelings of bliss. This is a result of something known as “limerence,” a dopamine-fueled state that causes intense feelings of infatuation for another person. Limerence can be wonderful, but it always subsides and the couples that last are the ones who are still happy with what remains: commitment, companionship, and connection. “That doesn’t mean that there won’t still be occasional fireworks and highs — especially when you do new things together,” Wilson says. “But the highs of the early days of your relationship will fade and it’s not realistic to expect them to be permanent.”

7. You Apologize When Necessary (And Work Hard on Your Apologies ) 

Things happen. We all make mistakes. To err is human, and so on. The healthiest couples understand this and, importantly, try not to let pride stand in the way of admitting fault or seeing the forest through the trees. They also work hard at making necessary apologies meaningful (here’s what all good apologies require) and accepting meaningful apologies from their partner. “It’s much more important to be quick to acknowledge mistakes and generous in forgiveness than to not make mistakes,” says Ford. “And attachment research shows that a good repair process strengthens bonds.”

8. You Know Marriage Is Hard (But You Still Find Time to Prioritize Play) 

Life is full of serious things that need to be taken seriously. Sometimes it can feel wrong or like a waste of time to prioritize playfulness. But the healthiest couples know that play is a crucial part of a loving partnership. Inside jokes. Silly voices. Laughing at the universe’s twisted sense of humor. Whatever it is that makes your marriage fun should find a way to it. Not only does being playful help manage stress and boost creativity in general, but it also increases satisfaction and trust in romantic relationships. Healthy couples know how to keep the spirit of play alive in their relationship. “Discovering that your wife got distracted and drove home leaving the groceries sitting in the cart is an opportunity for a good laugh,” says Ford. “Cherish these moments.”