There's a new approach to marriage I'd like to share with you. It's the concept of focusing on you and your partner's well-being and enjoyment ahead of accumulating money, climbing a career ladder, or bending to the pressure to constantly be "on." It's the deliberate and intentional change in values to create a happier life and a thriving marriage instead of an unhappy, failing one. This may sound trite and unachievable (we all need to focus on money, right?), but it's possible without sacrificing your ability to pay the bills. By focusing on lowering your stressors where you can and devoting your energy and creativity to what makes you happy instead of what others expect of you, you can achieve a more fulfilling life and relationship. Here are some steps to designing the life you and your partner desire:
Your job affects your marriage
Whether or not you're happy in your job shows in your marriage. If you're stressed out in your job, you tend to bring that home. This can put pressure on your marriage by negatively affecting your mood, your ability to communicate effectively, and your intimacy. It can even make you physically unhealthy. If your job isn't fulfilling and is a large source of your stress, figure out a way to fix it for the sake of your well-being and that of your marriage. Perhaps finding a job that improves your work-life balance would be the key to lessening stress and ensuring you spend more time with your spouse. Maybe you're not in a career field you enjoy and need to switch it. Not everyone has the option to suddenly quit a depressing job, but if you feel like you need a change start thinking of the steps you can take to make that happen.
Describe your "Dream Marriage"
Something every couple should do is tell each other what their idea of a "dream marriage" would be. This can provide you with insight about your spouse you might not have known before and give you the opportunity to work together to try to make as much of each other's dreams happen as possible. Talking about a shared future can spark a renewed sense of possibility and enliven your relationship. From there, you can go to the next tip and plan out what you both want your lives to look like.
Make a plan together
If you want a happier and more fulfilling life and relationship, plan it out. Along with your partner, consciously build out your life together in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes your time to pursue things you both enjoy. If you have debt that is creating stress and preventing you from achieving your goals, work together to tackle it. Simplify where you can. Distill what's important to you and cut out what is no longer serving you. What the plan looks like is up to both of you. The end result is living a beautiful life you designed together.
Don't let stress affect your intimacy
If you think you need to wait until your to-dos are complete and your stress level is at zero in order to enjoy or initiate an intimate moment with your spouse, your married life (and you!) will suffer. Being intimate can be a great way to reduce stress, boost your mood, and improve your connection with your spouse, so don't wait for the "perfect" time to have those special moments.
Leave other people's expectations behind
It can be hard to go against the grain and create a life that fulfills you but might not be understandable to others. Abandon other people's ideas of what you should be doing in favor of what you and your spouse desire. You'll be sure to hear opinions that might not be positive, but if you're following the plan that you've designed together, don't let anyone sway you to do otherwise. You are in this together.
Weather the hard times together
Generally, the best way to keep stress from negatively affecting a marriage is by (surprise) not having much. But life is ever-changing and uncertain; no matter how much you remove stressors or make plans, situations will arise that will bring stress, sadness, and worry. However, by starting from a solid foundation that includes your life plan, strong communication with your partner, and having your priorities clearly identified, together you'll be able to handle whatever life throws your way. You'll have built up your emotional reserves and your fortitude; you'll know what you can control and not let the things that you can't control cause you to overreact or derail your goals. Together, you've got this.