When a couple has been married for a number of years, they forget the beginning. They forget what they did and what they gave to earn the feeling of love. They also forget the gift they received in return. Truthfully, having a great relationship is incredibly simple. It just requires some meaningful moments and well-positioned comments.
Here are nine ways to improve your marriage:
- Spend uninterrupted time with your spouse. It’s the kids. It’s the phone. It’s the iPad. It’s the email. It’s the TV. Is there ever time when you just hang out with each other? (And I’m not talking about date night). Carving out 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted time devoted strictly to each other is imperative to building a connection and closeness with your husband or wife.
- Listen to and support each other. No matter how small, mundane or dumb you think it is, if you just hear them out and put your hand on theirs, that’s all it takes. People need to feel like THEY matter. If you give your spouse a hug and say, “Boy you went through all that and you still had a smile left for me when you walked through the door?”, they will melt.
- Express gratitude. Show appreciation for the small things you would normally take for granted. You’re gracious to strangers, so why not act that way towards your spouse? Something as small as saying “thank you” or telling your spouse how much you appreciate their efforts will make them feel good about themselves AND your relationship.
- Be kind. It only takes a moment.
- Never ignore. Giving the gift of attention shows your spouse they are important to you.
- Allow yourself to be influenced. Don’t be afraid to listen to your spouse and try some of the things they’re talking about. This is a hard one for people because their egos get in the way – guys with machismo, and women with feminism. A lot of guys don’t want to be told anything because they think it’s not manly. Many women figure, “I’m not going to let him tell me what to do. I am woman, hear me roar.”
- Argue with respect. If you’re too upset during a confrontation, wait until you’ve calmed down a bit. Opening your mouth at the height of your fury is never a good idea. And once you’ve calmed down, address the problem, don’t attack the person. If your spouse is upset, don’t overreact. Instead, get them a glass of wine or a beer, sit down, rub their neck, and put your arms around them. Remember, bickering is NOT communication – it is an assault.
- Learn how to make up. Love is never being afraid to say “I’m sorry”. You can use humor (“I’m sorry, sometimes the top and bottom parts of me are both asses”), but if you goof up, own it, apologize and remedy it.
- Create rituals. Have things to look forward to together. For example, every Saturday take a walk, bike ride or hike. Couples connect by sharing purposeful activities together.