3 Simple Habits to Improve Your Marriage and Your Mood

When people feel down, divorce rates go up. But you can change that.

Posted Feb 28, 2021 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma

Author unknown / 123rf /No Attribution Listed
Source: Author unknown / 123rf /No Attribution Listed

Lockdowns don’t tend to bring out the best in anyone. Especially when they drag on for a year or more.

It stands to reason, then, that two or more people in lockdown under one roof can put even the best of marriages in jeopardy.

My therapist colleagues and I have gotten busier than ever as a result of the unfortunate mental and emotional fallout from the pandemic. Especially those of us who work with couples. I call the couples who find me “couples on the brink” because many of them are contemplating divorce. There has been a dramatic increase in these kinds of couples since March 2020.

What's Different?

Under normal circumstances, the people I work with can call on their inner strengths to learn new skills and rise to a higher mood. Yet, with tough economic times, a scary disease ravaging our world (and killing our loved-ones) as well as divisive politics, becoming as normal as the weird weather from global climate change, stress is not going away any time soon. In fact, we’ll be topsy-turvy for quite a while. The pandemic isn’t past us yet, but I believe that, even when it is, we will be dealing with the ripples of it for many months to come. The collective unconscious is more stressed, more depressed, and more daunted by what a steep hill we have to climb than ever in my lifetime (and, from what I hear, at least the past couple of centuries).

Therefore, resilience and healthy coping skills will be harder to come by. It will take a concerted effort on all of our parts to fill our metaphorical gas tanks with enough fuel for the journey ahead. Extraordinary times require extraordinary self-care.

There are three very simple, doable, and no-cost remedies for getting your body, mind, and spirit fueled for the journey ahead. These options cost nothing. 

1. Find Some Negative Ions: Get to a beach, the woods, a park, a hiking trail, a nearby river or pond if you can. There are many places out in nature to find these healing vibes. The negative ions can’t help but alter your mood and lift your spirits.  

Susan Gadoua
Source: Susan Gadoua

Going to these places with someone is nice, but if you’re needing a reprieve from the kids being home-schooled, you and your spouse both working from home (or worse, one of you is out of work and that’s why you’re home) take this time to be by yourself and go within. Try a walking meditation, stay off your devices, and practice mindfulness (be aware of the gentle wind in the breeze or the salty smell of the ocean).

Do this once a week if you can. It’s easy to put this off until the weekend or next week but do it today. If this is the only one of the three suggestions you follow, I know you’ll thank me.

2. Get Your Good Hormones Flowing: It’s actually easier than you think to get your brain to release what’s known as “happy hormones.” These hormones include serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. The simplest way to do this? Hugs. Hugs not only reduce stress, but they also alleviate pain, too.

 Hu Chocolate
Source: Hu Chocolate

We get oxytocin from giving and receiving hugs. One of the reasons why Covid has been so hard: we can’t go near—let alone touch—anyone outside our bubble. If and when it’s safe to, definitely catch up on your hugs with friends and loved ones. You’ll both feel better.

Cuddling can do the same, by the way. And, for those of you who have a dog, cat, bunny, gerbil, hugging furry critters can have the same effect. Try picking up your pet for 5 minutes a day and you may see a difference in your baseline mood.

Doing something creative can also shift your brain, so find time to draw, paint, take photos, sing, play an instrument, or knit. Whatever turns you on and taps into the part of your right hemisphere that gets you in creativity.

Certain foods can release a cascade of good-feeling hormones. Foods like cranberries, cheese, and turkey (admittedly, food costs money but since you have to eat anyway, it’s not an extra expense). And don’t forget about chocolate

3. Fill Your Body, Mind, and Spirit with Fuel to Take You the Distance: If you think about it, we're so much more fortunate during this pandemic (unlike the one just over 100 years ago) in that we have endless books, movies, podcasts, radio shows that we can access with the click of a button (literally, at our fingertips). Additionally, there are seemingly unlimited on-line conferences that we can attend (full disclosure—I’ll be speaking at one such conference which is what made me think about that as an added tool to boost your well-being) to entertain us, distract us, and pass the time. Many of these conferences, like this one, are free.

Uplifting podcasts include: Dear Anxiety, The Happiness Lab, and 10 Percent Happier 

Helpful books: The Upward SpiralWhen Things Fall ApartHardwiring Happiness

Susan Gadoua
Source: Susan Gadoua

Movies like My Cousin Vinny or Moonstruck are classics and will make you laugh. Movies like I Am or Michael are just plain feel-good films.

The Bottom Line

I understand that, if your relationship is in serious trouble, these fixes won’t necessarily get everything back on track, but these habits will help raise the vibe of your life. If things are bad, these actions will make it better; if things are good, they can make your life great.

If you don’t fill your gas tank, you will be driving around on fumes. Not only won’t you get very far, but you also won’t feel good along the way. If your tank is completely empty, you will get stuck on the side of the road (if that has ever literally happened to you, you know how bad that feels).

Don’t overlook these basic fuel-up tools. Stop feeling down by filling up. 

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Author unknown / 123rf /No Attribution Listed
Source: Author unknown / 123rf /No Attribution Listed