Marriage improvement works best with these everyday actions.
Waiting, hoping, wishing–these are the methods that most people use to have a better relationship. They don’t work, because what is required is action. The happiness of your marriage is not in the hands of your spouse. Marriage improvement is in your hands. Here are 10 things you can actively do that will make a difference.
#1 Take responsibility
This is the most important thing that you can do. Determine that you will be the one to create marriage improvement. Many people who thought they were stuck for years with their spouse’s inconsiderate or selfish behaviors have been able to improve their relationships by changing the way they interact with their spouses. My clients use a 3 step approach of: 1) stopping their own damaging behavior; 2) using good connection skills; and 3) using boundaries to deal with their spouse’s damaging behaviors. This 1-2-3 approach often brings dramatic change without their ever having to convince their spouse of anything.
#2 Be a better partner
Ask you partner what you can do to create marriage improvement. Make a list and work on those things. Ask for feedback after you have made the changes. And, most importantly, do not tell your partner what he or she can do to improve the relationship unless you are asked. Giving unsolicited advice will come across as rejection to your spouse, no matter what your motivation.
#3 Treat your spouse like a single person
Constantly look for places where you can agree with your partner. If your partner says one thing out of five that you can agree with, then do it and ignore the other four. Be sincere in your agreement and don’t add any “buts.” Talk to your spouse the same way you would talk to a single person if you were first dating. Married people like the same things that single people do. If you would not say something to someone you were dating as a single person, don’t say it to your spouse either.
#4 Become more of the old you
The person your spouse fell in love with may be very different than the person you have become. How did you used to be? What was it about you that made your spouse enjoy you so much that he or she wanted to commit to you for life? Chances are it was not because you spent a lot of time at work or gave all your attention to the kids. Remember that if your spouse were to leave you, he or she would be attracted to someone who is the way you used to be. Become that person again to keep your spouse happy at home.
#5 Make your spouse feel important
Build your communication with your spouse through listening. Don’t wait to become interested in what your partner is saying. Make yourself interested in what your partner is saying. If you don’t know much about your partner’s interests, then learn more about them. This will give you more to talk about and will open doors to more activities that you can do together. When I first was dating my wife, art bored me while her favorite activity was visiting museums. So, I took a course in art appreciation. Now, we both like art and visiting museums together.
#6 Improve your bedroom skills
Sex can become as routine as vacuuming the carpet and about as much fun. When it does, couples may stop having sex altogether. But don’t let that make you think that your spouse has lost interest in sex. He or she just may not be interested in sex with you. Whether you are a man or a woman, there is much that you can learn about both lovemaking and romance and how to connect those two things together. Start by getting a book appropriate for your gender.
#7 Become attracted to your spouse
Fantasize about your relationship with your partner. Rather than think about the negative things about your partner, think about all the good times and fantasize about more good times that you can have together. Stimulate your own desire for your partner. Don’t wait for him or her to do that for you. Keep pictures of you and your spouse doing fun things around you. Plan activities that you can do with your spouse. Think about one thing you can do with your spouse or say to your spouse, today, that he or she will like. Then do it every day. Make your spouse feel like he or she is the most important person in the world to you.
#8 Live and love your way
Are you following a pattern that was established by your parents? Is that appealing to you? It is your marriage. You can have it any way you want. If you can put in your relationship what you want to have, you will never have a mid-life crisis. If you could change just one thing about your relationship, what would it be? Go and make that change. Don’t wait. Chances are your spouse will enjoy it, too.
#9 Stop creating resentment
Do not do anything for your spouse because you “have to.” Feelings of obligation never bring us closer to our partner. When you feel like you “have to” do something, either stop doing it or give yourself some positive reasons why you want to do it. Don’t do anything half-heartedly. If you decide you are going to help with the chores, then do it whole-heartedly and get into it. Don’t begrudgingly do as little as you can. Strive to do everything in life this way–cooking, exercising, being with friends, having sex, doing your job, and so forth. You will come to love your life this way.
#10 Get help when you get stuck
If you don’t like the way your relationship is and you have done all that you know how to do, ask your spouse for help. If your spouse can’t or won’t help with marriage improvement, then get help from a professional. If your spouse wants help too, then get marriage counseling. If your spouse is resistant to the idea, then get marriage coaching for yourself. Don’t believe the lies that when the romance is gone you can’t get it back. I have helped many people to not only fall in love with their spouses again, but to get their spouses to fall in love with them again. Just because you don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.