Doctors call heart disease “the silent killer” accounting for one in four deaths in the United States every year. That’s why February has been designated Heart Health Month, to encourage everyone to take better care of this essential part of themselves.
In the same way that a strong physical heart is vital for a healthy body, so a strong “inner” heart is essential for a healthy marriage. Each ensures the necessary, life-giving circulation that keeps you growing and thriving.
As well as being the muscle in your chest that pumps blood around your body, your heart is also the core you, the mix of innermost drives and desires, convictions and emotions that make you the unique person you are.
Just as doctors emphasize the importance of good diet, exercise, and regular check-ups to ensure that your physical heart remains strong, you should use the same list to keep your emotional and relational heart functioning at its best as well—and beating in time with your spouse’s. Here are four tips to making sure you and your spouse have healthy hearts.
Carefully control your diet.
Good nutrition is fundamental to good health. Living off fast food isn’t good for your blood pressure, your circulation, your weight, or your fitness. Fresh foods may take a bit more preparation, but they provide more of what your body really needs.
Similarly, ensuring you have a healthy relational heart means watching what you consume. Don’t allow the media to negatively shape your views. Television and movies promote a selfish me-first approach to marriage, as though it’s all about your personal happiness, rather than mutual sacrifice and service.
Instead of giving in to “drive-through” temptations, give the time necessary to building up your relationship. Some things can’t be rushed. Do you need to cut back on work or other commitments to ensure you and your spouse have the time you need to nurture each other and your marriage?
Be sure to exercise.
Staying healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. Physical training can be enjoyable, as you see your fitness level and skills improving. There will probably be days when you don’t feel like going to the gym for a workout, but you still go because you know it’s going to be worthwhile eventually.
That’s how loving your spouse can be. Usually, it’s rewarding to care for, support, and encourage them. Sometimes you choose to even though you don’t really want to because you know it will pay dividends. It means being appreciative, expressing gratitude, and acting in a loving way even if you don’t feel like it. True love is not just warm fuzzies, it’s doing the right thing, regardless. [Tweet This]
Have regular check-ups.
Sometimes seemingly healthy people discover they have serious undetected health problems. That’s why it is important to get an outside assessment on a regular basis.
Going to a marriage conference together or participating in a couples’ small group is one way to take a measure of how you are doing. You might want to get hold of a copy of Lists to Love By for Busy Husbands and Lists to Love By for Busy Wives, two new books which my wife, Susan, and I wrote recently to help couples reflect on their expectations for their marriage, evaluate how they are doing, and take steps to move their relationship to the next level.
Watch for warning signs.
If you’re doing all you know to keep your heart healthy, there is still one more important thing to do: be aware of the warning signs that might come along and warn of something going wrong.
Tingly arms and shortness of breath can indicate heart problems, and you could find yourself facing relational symptoms that point to potential problems in your marriage—withdrawing from each other, losing trust, a lack of desire, and growing irritation.
If that’s the case, don’t ignore them—seek help right away to avert serious trouble. These ideas on How to Get Unstuck From a Marriage Rut might help you.
Long before Heart Health Month was launched, an ancient wisdom writer summed up well the importance of watching over the core of who we are, writing, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
As you think about your heart this month, how healthy is it? Are there things you need to do to ensure it keeps beating strong in and for your marriage? Share your thoughts here.