Every marriage experiences challenges. However, the stronger the marriage, the greater the ability to get through and grow from those life challenges. Here are ten tips for a happier, stronger marriage that can thrive despite circumstances.
- Notice your spouse’s positive attributes and efforts to make you happy. Choose to interpret your partner’s (imperfect) actions as ways to make you happy. Thank them for what they bring to the marriage WITHOUT saying “Thank you, but…” Most people have good intentions even when their actions miss the mark….even YOU! Appreciate your spouse more mindfully. (Warning: This skill, when learned completely, can create a real shift for marriages!!!)
- Let go of a “pay-back” mentality. A pay-back mentality includes actions such as withholding sex, money, affection, attention, communication. We tend to get what we put into relationships, and revenge/resentment is like poison to a relationship.
- Put your spouse FIRST. Avoid letting less important busy-ness get in the way of your relationship and remember that your spouse’s concerns are your concerns. When each partner mutually focus on committing to the other in an unconditional way, a much deeper love can grow.
- Remember your good manners or good marriage habits. Consider the manners and habits you each had when you first met. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ as well as spending a few minutes each day connecting, bringing your spouse coffee or always ending the day with a kiss are small ways to send a BIG message that you care. Love as ACTION vs. a feeling makes for great marriages!
- Remember that it takes TWO people to make a relationship. In order to create a great marriage, you each have to get really honest about how YOU have contributed to the current state of affairs. Your partner may shut down but possibly due to your critical nature??? Blaming the other person keeps your relationship from moving forward. Apologize for YOUR actions and begin to see your spouse begin to make changes as well.
- Laugh and spend time having fun together. Sometimes what seems like a lack of passion is just a matter of spending time rediscovering why you both were attracted to each other in the first place. Increasing physical touch and affection can also recreate that connection. Giving time and attention to your relationship may be what it takes to begin to rekindle the flame and go to the next level in your marriage.
- Listen…without getting defensive or wanting to blame, rationalize or avoiding conflict. Really hearing what your spouse is trying to say (rather imperfectly at times) requires a commitment on your part to not engage in poor listening habits. When you become defensive, blame or try to avoid the problem so it will just go away, you are not truly hearing from a place of love, empathy and commitment.
- Avoid spending time with “bad examples.” Family, media, or friends who do not support a strong, loving relationship between you and your spouse may not have your best interest at heart. What emotional needs are trying to get met through others? How is that impacting your relationship?
- Stop criticizing and demanding your partner to change. The Pursue/Withdrawal cycle does nothing but cause frustration, resentment and further shutting down. What is the purpose of your controlling behavior? What behavior do YOU need to change?
- If you want a better marriage, let it begin with YOU. Waiting for your partner to do better will only lead to disappointment. Let go of false pride. The next time your interactions with your spouse go awry, hit the RESET BUTTON! Choose emotional maturity, and be the one to take the first steps to a happier marriage NOW!*
*Domestic violence and active alcohol/substance abuse require immediate medical attention.