You know how the usual marriage story goes. After a passionate beginning, husband and wife start to take their relationship for granted. Soon you forget to show how much you care about one another. Nagging and petty arguments take up more and more of your time. You laugh less and blame more. You start to feel resentment building, and may want to spend time with someone else.
For all too many couples, it’s a true story. But we don’t hear the next part very often. With real effort and commitment, you can break down the bad habits that have built up. If you follow the following steps, you can not only revive your marriage, but make it better than ever!
- Make Time For One Another – If you’re constantly distracted, it’s hard to feel passion in your marriage. Try creating rituals together. It can be something simple like hugging each other at the end of the work day and talking, or drinking a cup of coffee together every morning. You can also set up regular “date nights”. It doesn’t have to be something high-pressure—just a regular time to spend together. Here are some ideas. See if you can find a hobby together, or find time relax and read a book together. Cook each other meals, or go sign up for a cooking class. Try to travel somewhere—even if it’s not far from where you live. The bottom line is to think of your marriage as a priority, not a given. And that means making time.
- Make An Effort With Your Appearance – It’s normal to put more effort into looking good toward the beginning of your relationship. But as your marriage goes on, there’s a big difference between getting comfortable and complacent. Eat well, exercise regularly, and take care of your appearance. It sends the right signal: that you want to share your best side with your partner. And if you notice your partner looking good, tell them! A compliment will make them feel noticed and appreciated. It can also increase their body image and enhance your connection. A simple “You look great,” can work wonders!
- Ask Questions – When you’ve known your spouse for a long time, you might think you know everything about each other. But here’s a newsflash: people are constantly changing. As our lives progress, our experiences and perspectives are always shifting. You may be surprised by how much there still is to discover about your partner! Make an effort to lead by example. Share your memories, dreams, concerns and hopes. Then, invite your partner to do the same. Try to ask open ended questions, like “What would be a perfect day for you?” or “For what in your life do you feel most grateful?” Remember to ask a lot of questions during everyday communication, too. It’s never safe to mind-read, or assume you know what your spouse is thinking.
- Share Your Needs –Marriages can reach a low point when one or both partners gets in the habit of sweeping their concerns under the rug. However well you know your partner, it’s important to express if something is bothering you. You can’t expect them to read your mind. The trick is to do it in a way that’s kind and doesn’t blame your partner. Use “I” statements. For example, “Lately I’ve been upset because I feel like we’re spending too little time together.” Ask your spouse how they feel about it. Then, invite them to share any of their concerns. Remember, this isn’t a time to “keep score.” You’re not competing, you’re on the same team! Try to find a good time and place for this process. That means away from the kids, and away from other distractions. Find a time when you can both focus on listening and sharing.
- Accept The Things You Can’t Change – Do you feel like you’re having the same conflict over and over again? If so, the cause might be something inherent in your personalities. For example, if you’re spontaneous and your spouse loves to plan and research, you could have the same conflict about going on vacation every year. Sometimes, these things won’t change. You have to be able to accept some of those fundamental differences. Sometimes, those differences cause conflict because we take them personally. However, many times, they aren’t. In the above example, the spontaneous partner might think, “If he/she really loved me, they would be able to go on an adventure with me without planning every detail in advance.” However, that type of thinking can creates a problem where there is none.
Love between a parent and child is unconditional. The same is not true for husband and wife. A brief look at the divorce statistics will tell you that pretty quickly. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed as soon as things start heading south. The key is putting in real effort to keep your marriage fresh, new, and growing. Follow the steps above, and your marriage won’t only survive, but thrive!