It’s never good to compare your marriage to anyone else’s, because all relationships are different, especially behind closed doors. Even the happiest couples can have dark times, and it can be stressful trying to figure out whether you’ll weather stormy moments or capsize when things get rough.
What constitutes a good marriage? Certainly, marriage advice can only do so much. So, here are five ways to tell that your marriage will make it. We’re crossing our fingers for you.
1. You don’t turn into strangers with your friends around.
One of the best indicators of a good marriage is how you behave and feel when you are with both your close friends and your partner. Most people feel very relaxed and authentic around their best friends.
If you were out to dinner with a couple of close girlfriends and then your husband joined you, ideally your behavior would change very little. Sure, the topics of conversation might be a little different, but your basic personality, comfort level and way of interacting should be similar.
You should be able to joke the same and talk about things that are important to you, whether or not your spouse is with you. If you find yourself censoring yourself and feeling tense, that might be an indicator that something is a little off in your marriage.
2. You’re not constantly saying sorry.
There’s nothing wrong with apologizing here and there for mistakes you’ve made. It’s actually a sign of good awareness of how your behavior affects others (a great marker for a healthy relationship). Also, being courteous and grateful for the help that your partner gives you is a good thing.
The problem occurs when you apologize for things that clearly aren’t a big deal, or you over-apologize. You should feel natural and at ease around your partner with the knowledge that they have a level of forgiveness and understanding of you.
However, if you find yourself apologizing frequently, you need to consider why that might be. Ask yourself: Are you afraid of disappointing your spouse? If so, why is that? Why would the stakes be so high if you were to make a small mistake?
3. You can tell what your spouse is feeling.
Of all people in this world, the person you are married to should have a strong level of awareness of how you feel. It’s not unusual for married couples to not understand why their partner feels they way he or she does. It’s also not uncommon to struggle to perfect the skill of noticing when your partner is upset, hurt, or in pain of some kind.
However, once your spouse does realize that you are experiencing emotional or physical pain, they should feel empathy and concern. It takes work in a relationship to know what to do with that empathy (how to help your partner), but you should be able to feel or imagine your spouse’s discomfort once you are aware it exists, and want that discomfort to go away.
4. You have a balance of emotions.
Your marriage should be a way you are able to experience many emotions. Sure, it’s best if there aren’t a ton of negative emotions. You do want some variety in your emotions when you’re with your spouse because this indicates a degree of balance.
If you just experience “joy” and “fun” when you’re with your partner, that might be a great thing, but you’re likely missing out of other ways to experience intimacy. An example of a range of feelings and states that may represent a balanced marriage would be joy, laughter, passion, excitement, sadness, fear, stability.
5. If you get arrested, he’s automatically your “one phone call.”
The last sign of a healthy marriage is whether or not you’re able to ask your partner for favors and help when you’re in time of need, or for an ear to listen to you when you need to vent.
If you find that you’re calling all your friends or asking your relatives anytime you need anything to the point where your spouse is a last option, then that’s a bad sign.
Dr. Marie Land is a psychologist, and expert on relationships and eating issues. For more information, visit her website.