How to Make Your Marriage Strong

In the early stages of a relationship, the intense chemistry and mutual love of eating Chinese take-out while watching old movies may seem like more than enough. However, after you've gained that inevitable five pounds that comes with the transition from singledom to domesticity, you'll find that making the loving last isn't as simple as pressing "Play."

The reality is that all of the wonderful benefits of a long-term relationship come with intense responsibilities. Building a balanced, equal partnership isn't an easy task and can't be ordered off of a take-out menu.

For a partnership to be healthy, both parties have to feel equally valued in relation to emotions, lifestyle, finances and objectives. Here are some questions to help you start weighing the equality in your own relationship.

Are Your Priorities Just as Important?
1. Is your partner aware of your goals, dreams and hopes for the future?
2. Does your relationship allow you to pursue these objectives?
3. Is your partner supportive of your endeavors? Are you equally supportive of his/hers?
4. Do you frequently adapt your schedule to meet your partner's needs?
5. Does one party in the relationship seem to extend more effort on the "us"?

Are You a Financial Equal?
1. Does one partner bring more money into the relationship? Are both of you comfortable with this situation?
2. Are you aware of your partner's assets, debts and spending habits?
3. Do you find it difficult to discuss financial issues with your partner?

Are You an Emotional Equal?1. Do both of you communicate your feelings?2. Are you open to listening to your partner's feelings and concerns?3. Do you feel your concerns are addressed by your partner?4. Are you fulfilled intimately?If these thought-provoking questions lead you to wonder about your relationship, don't be overly alarmed. There is no pass or fail for this quiz. Rather, your equality equation comes from your own feelings of comfort with the partnership. Every relationship is different and creating balance takes constant attention. Make a commitment to set aside quality time with your partner to discuss the areas in which you have concerns. Remember, a major symptom of an unequal relationship is the fear or inability to communicate your thoughts.
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