The Connection Between Happy Marriages and Strong Mental Health

Posted by Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT on August 17, 2021 at 4:00 AM
Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT

4 minute read

Mental Health and Relationships

When people think about mental health, they often tend to focus solely on mental illness. Of course, mental health includes anxiety, depression, and other diagnoses — but it encompasses much more than that. Positive factors, such as resiliency, curiosity, self-worth, and strong supportive relationships, are also part of your mental health and can help you cope with adversity and mental illness. 

In the same way that you need to attend to your physical health through proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, your mental health also requires well-rounded attention. When you nurture your mental health, you: 

  • Are better able to handle the ups and downs of life  

  • Recover from setbacks and changes in our lives more quickly

  • Sleep better, heal quicker and live longer  

Without strong positive mental health, you'll struggle to be healthy and happy.

As a Couples Therapist, I am particularly interested in how our intimate relationships play a part in our personal mental health. Research shows us that being happily married or in a stable relationship impacts positively on mental health. High marital quality is associated with lower stress and less depression.

Some studies have found that negative social interactions and relationships, especially with partners or spouses, increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. In contrast, positive interactions reduce the risk of these issues.2 

Some degree of conflict is inevitable in romantic relationships. But for many of the couples I see, the conflict extends beyond day-to-day disagreements into pervasive patterns of negative conflict. This then leaves both partners in a perpetual state of distress or disconnection. 

Disconnection is not good for our mental health. Neurobiologists tell us that we are wired for connection. It seems that we humans aren’t built to be alone, isolated, or lonely. We want to be seen, acknowledged, and bonded to one another.  

8 Things You'll Experience In Close, Intimate, and Healthy Love: 

Healthy Love in Relationship

  1. You'll feel much more alive 

  2. You'll have a deeper purpose 

  3. Life will have more meaning 

  4. You'll prioritize positive health behaviors

  5. You'll experience less stress 

  6. You're able to process emotions better 

  7. You'll have increased energy 

  8. You're able to release tension 

All of this leads to positive mental health, less disease, and longer life. So, what are the elements to strive for in a healthy relationship

Most couples who seek Relationship Counseling state that they want to work on their communication. Typically, their dynamic has become mutual triggering where they repeatedly find themselves having the same argument. Sometimes, they are so hurt and exhausted that they have stopped bringing things up and are locked behind walls of silence and disconnection. 

In my experience, it is crucial that couples focus on practices of mutual respect. Respect is foundational for each person to feel safe and loved.

11 Items To Ease Tension And Deepen Connection In Your Relationship: 

Ease Tension in Relationship

  1. Practice deep listening to understand 

  2. Remove any negative criticism or contempt 

  3. Take responsibility instead of responding defensively 

  4. Validate your partner's point of view 

  5. Express empathy for your partner's feelings 

  6. Use supportive words and gestures  

  7. Honor needs and boundaries for both you and your partner   

  8. Accept the differences between you and your partner

  9. Touch one another, be affectionate  

  10. Practice gazing into your partner's eyes 

  11. Incorporate more humor and laughter in your relationship  

To maximize your mental health, having healthy relationships are vital. If you need support to build your relationship into something more respectful, I am here to help. Through week-to-week sessions, longer Private Intensives, and Weekend Couples Retreats, you have options to improve your connection and build the relationship you need, want, and deserve. 

Check out our Imago Relationship Workshops and Relationship TherapyWe also have Online Couples Therapy and Online Couples Workshops right now!  

Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional MembershipImago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Educational Webinars


Connect. Transform. Thrive.
1 Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., & Jones, B.Q. (2008). Is There Something Unique about Marriage? The Relative  Impact of Marital Status, Relationship Quality, and Network Social Support on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and  Mental Health. Annals of Behavioural Medicine, 35, 239–244.  2 Teo, A.R., Choi, H.J., & Valenstein, M. (2013). Social Relationships and Depression: Ten-Year Follow-Up from a  Nationally Representative Study. PLOS One, 8(4). Retrieved  from

 Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT - Imago Relationships North AmericaThis blog was written by Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT. 

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California. I have 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families. I have two advanced certifications in working with couples: Imago Relationship Therapy and Encounter-centered Couples Therapy. 

I work with spouses and parents to deepen communication, resolve conflict and rediscover the joy of being together. In addition to private sessions in my Los Angeles office, I am also passionate about leading workshops for Engaged Couples. With years of experience in premarital counseling, I am happy to offer an Imago-based workshop entitled, Start Right, Stay Connected. I also facilitate a Weekend Couples Retreat, Over the Bridge, for couples wanting profound transformation. For couples who desire deep, intensive, quick resolution in a private setting, I also offer one and two-day Private  Intensives. 

I have also been active throughout my career in educating and training students and interns to become practicing therapists. I have taught and supervised at various universities and training sites around Los Angeles. Prior to coming to California, I served as a team therapist and supervisor at Houston Child Guidance Center working with children and troubled adolescents. I have given numerous workshops and presentations, taught graduate courses, and supervised many interns on their way to becoming licensed.

I am an active member of the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, Los Angeles Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, IMAGO Relationship Institute, and the Southern California IMAGO Institute. I am a Master Encounter-centered Couples Therapist.  I am active in various spiritual settings and community endeavors. I love my profession and truly enjoy helping others to heal, grow, develop a heightened state of well-being and create more love and peace in their lives. 

Several years ago, I co-founded The Conversation Group, an organization of like-minded licensed and pre-licensed therapists.  We work with you in a very safe and collaborative way to create conversations that open up paths to clarity, insight, and healing which can motivate movement toward the life you desire. Join our Facebook page for daily meditations and healing quotations.

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Topics: Happy Relationships, Marriage Issues, Mental Health, Creating Healthy Relationships, Married Life, Happy Marriage, Happy, Mental Health Awareness, Creating Happy Relationships, Marriage Struggles, Marriage Help, Marriage Goals, Marriage Tips, Marriage 101, Marriage Counseling, Marriage Problems, Marriage Workshop, Mental Health Matters

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The Imago Relationships Blog features content from our team of professional therapists, workshop presenters and facilitators who are passionate about helping you discover a new way to communicate and love your life.

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