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Medical Monday: Advice for a happy marriage

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Dr. Neil Brahmbhatt, Gundersen psychiatrist, gave some advice for a happy marriage. He used the acronym:

C - communication

P - pet peeves

R - respect

D - dates

I - intimacy

G - goals

C - core

V - values

Dr. Neil Brahmbhatt explained them as:

Communication. The cornerstone of a healthy and happy relationship is direct communication with your significant other. Silence is not a bad thing, but that ‘awkward silence’ over time which is easy to detect can take a toll on a relationship. So simply ask, “honey, let’s set some time to talk about each others thoughts and feelings, what do you think?” A few minutes spent on this can go a long way to either praise the positives or work out the negatives. 

Pet Peeves. We all have things that get under our skin. For some, it’s the toilet seat being left up, for others it’s unfinished chores. Be an active participant in learning about your spouses likes and dislikes and try to avoid the ones that bother them the most. It shows you care and pay attention to detail. 

Respect. Treat your spouse as you would want to be treated by a loved one or a stranger. As we know, words can hurt, and take lots of time, energy, and effort to undo. So be mindful of what you say to each other and value your spouse fondly. 

Dates. Our society is plentiful of distractions like our phone, the computer, television, friends, hobbies, and anything and everything that can hinder quality time with your partner. Make an active effort to set “dates” to either go out for a dinner and walk in the moonlight or simple movie indoors. Make sure to tune out from other distractions at that time (turn off phones, tv, computers, etc.).

Intimacy. Whether its sex or simply cuddling and kissing, keep that affectionate flame burning. You need to feed the flame to keep it going. And don’t be shy to ask each other what your likes and dislikes are in this area. It will go a long way.

Goals. Foster and support each other’s individual personal and professional goals. It will reduce dependency in the relationship as the sole source of happiness. In addition, shared goals are critical as you develop a new life together whether it’s a home, children, or other shared goals like a philanthropic project, or traveling the world. This will help form an identity to your relationship as its own entity.

Core Values. It is important to make sure that you have a reasonable degree of alignment in terms of core values like spirituality, desire to have/not have children, live in a large city or really rural small town, material goals, family values and other core lifestyle choices. Try to discuss these early as possible and come back to them from time to time and check in with each other.

In essence, a happy marriage is a ‘muscle’ you need to exercise. Use it or lose it as the saying goes; it’s an active process, and don’t take each other for granted.  

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