For Better or For Worse: Healthy habits for a healthy marriage
By Lisa Lakey
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Feb 13, 2017
- Schrick: Any time together can rekindle romance
- Time alone important for parents of young children
LITTLE ROCK -- A study released in November from the National Center for Marriage and Family Research showed the divorce rate in the U.S. is at a 40-year low. In 2015, the divorce rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women, down from 17.6 in 2015. Marriage, on the other hand, is at the highest rate since 2009. The news is encouraging, but may leave couples wondering, how do you ensure your marriage doesn’t become another statistic?
Brittney Schrick, Ph.D., extension family life specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that divorce generally stems from causes such as a lack of commitment or intimacy, unrealistic expectations or often stress over finances and other life events. But in the day-to-day, work, kids, schedules and life in general can unwittingly push a marriage to the back burner, making a couple feel more like roommates. Regardless of how busy life is, Schrick said any time together can be used as a time to connect and rekindle a little romance.
“Connection doesn’t have to be the result of careful planning,” she said. “Even if the only time you have together alone is after the kids are asleep and you’re exhausted, hold hands while watching a favorite show. Sit next to one another and just enjoy being together. During the day, if you can talk on the phone or meet for lunch, take the time to do that as often as you can.”
Schrick stressed the importance of having alone time with your spouse, especially for parents of young children.
“Getting a sitter, grandparent or friend to watch your child while you go out with your spouse can breathe life into a relationship,” she said. “Even if you just go grocery shopping or run other errands, being alone together is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy relationship.”
While nearly every couple is bound to go through rough waters from time to time, Schrick said it may be time to seek counseling if one spouse feels the need to separate, is engaging in harmful behaviors or if you find yourselves consistently arguing over the same thing, such as money, parenting or intimacy.
“There is no shame in seeking outside help or guidance to work on your relationship,” Schrick said.
Engaging in healthy habits is key to health in general. Marriage is no different. Schrick offers three habits of a healthy marriage that will help keep the romantic fires burning long after saying “I do.”
- Take time to connect – “Make sure you touch each other, holds hands in the car while taking kids to practice, sit close to each other on the couch while watching a movie with the family, hug, kiss, and remind each other that you are present,” Schrick said.
- Stay in contact – “Don’t let the practicality of raising a family pull you so far apart that you become strangers,” she warned. “Send texts during the day to let your partner know that you are thinking about them. Eat lunch together if you have the option. Do little things for your partner that you know they will appreciate.”
- Keep dating – “Just because you are in a committed relationship does not mean you should stop dating one another,” Schrick said. “Go out for a meal. See a movie. Take a picnic to the park. Drive around together and talk. Making time to be together is important.”
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service