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One fundamental key builds healthy marriages

By Ms. Brittany Claire Jacks
MSU Extension Service
Student Worker

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The foundation of a healthy marriage rests on the solid ground of communication.

Karen Benson, an agent of the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Neshoba County who conducts family life programs, said couples are able to grow closer emotionally when they open up about their hopes and needs.

“Conflict is inevitable, but marriage does not have to be a struggle,” she said. “We learn to negotiate and learn more about ourselves when we work out solutions to conflicts.”

Marriages thrive when partners show appreciation for each other, Benson said.

“The best way to show your spouse appreciation is to learn what truly makes him or her feel appreciated,” she said. “Words of affirmation, kind gestures, gifts and quality time are just some of the ways to show appreciation to your partner.”

Benson said good communication becomes not only what is said, but also how it is said.

“Communicating how much you value your partner validates that the relationship is important and needed,” she said. “Providing any and all information helps your spouse understand issues, builds trust and shows respect. Husbands and wives are more likely to listen to compliments than criticism, so as you speak more favorably about your partner with your partner, you improve communication.”

Katrina Akande, an assistant professor in the MSU School of Human Sciences, provides family and child development support to the MSU Extension Service programs. She said being open and honest about spending habits is an important part of good communication.

“Keep track of where your money is going,” she said. “Be sure to watch your spending habits. As much as possible, stick to your budget.”

Couples also must learn not to “sweat the small stuff” when it comes to having a healthy marriage, Akande said.

“Never go to bed angry. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree,” she said. “Doing small gestures for your partner is important. Leave love notes in your spouse’s purse or wallet. Let your partner know how special he or she is.”

Social media can play a role in the breaking down of some relationships, but it does not have to, Akande said. If a person’s past experiences contribute to trust issues, couples may want to share social media accounts.

“This action will decrease the likelihood of certain behaviors or skepticism,” she said. “Always be honest, trustworthy and respectful. Trust in a relationship is very important. Create certain times where you are cut off from social media, and just have time to connect as a couple without any distractions.”

Akande said support from a spouse is important to grow as a person and as a couple, but sometimes alone time is necessary.

“Be sure to do fun things with your friends because you will always need your own time,” she said. “Do something by yourself that you enjoy doing. Be respectful of your spouse’s alone time as well.”

Released: February 29, 2016
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