You know the saying, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes happily ever after”? End of story, right? Not quite.
While it’s true that couples relax a bit after they’ve said their vows and tied the knot, the reality is that they may also find themselves puzzled if their fairy tale starts slipping away.
Many people think that marriage is about marrying the right person, so when things start to go wrong they begin to worry that they’ve accidentally married the wrong person.
Although, you do want to marry someone you’re compatible with, marriage has a lot less to do with marrying the right person than it has to do with doing the right things with the person you married.
In other words, relationships are a constant work in progress. If your marriage seems to be rocky, try these tips to restore the happy connection that made you say “I do” in the first place.
1. Analyze Yourself:
A common assumption is that it takes both partners to save their marriage. This seems reasonable, but it just isn’t true. Unless your spouse has truly and completely given up on the relationship, it is possible for you to make sufficient changes to save the marriage.
Perhaps not immediately, but over time it’s inevitable that the unhappy partner will notice the positive change in your behavior and will respond to it.
Whether you know it or not, you and your spouse communicate in a revolving stimulus, a response pattern if you will. This means that when you do or say something, the stimulus and your partner reacts, and then you react to their reaction, and so on.
The same thing occurs when your partner says or does something… the two of you have built up a pattern of habitual actions and reactions over time. Since a couple is comprised of two individuals, a change in the behaviour of one person will have an impact on the other, and therefore the entire relationship.
When the stimulus changes, there will be a new, different response. That new response will elicit another new and different response.
If this happens enough, a new pattern of behaviours will emerge. Assuming the new actions and reactions are positive, the relationship takes a positive turn.
For example, if you have developed a habit of being disrespectful towards your spouse, she will have developed some kind of reaction or coping mechanism.
If you stop disrespectful behavior, she won’t need to use her coping mechanism, and her reaction to you will chance. The simplest step to saving your marriage is to take a frank look at your own behavior and access how you can change it, how you communicate with your spouse, and what habits you have that kick start arguments.
Spend some time looking at your relationship and figure out which parts work, and which parts don’t. Take a moment to imagine a perfect day in your perfect relationship.
What would it look like? How would you and your partner interact? Next, try creating a plan of how you might get from point A, your current reality, to point B, that perfect day.
Write it down if you need to, it can be something you review to remind yourself what it is that you’re working towards. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break down the issues into doable steps, and begin tackling them one at a time.
By doing this you’ll be able to take the initial steps in turning your attitude, you spouse’s reactions, and your marriage, around.
2. Money Madness:
Money is one of the biggest sources of marital conflict—and it can be one of the toughest to resolve. It’s something that couples worry and argue about constantly.
Disagreements over money can stem from many sources. If one partner earns considerable more than the other, resentment can build as a result of the greater earner “policing” expenditures or the lesser earning feeling guilty for spending or bitter about the unequal income.
Money can be used and abused for power in a relationship. It can also be a proxy for other points of disagreement or unhappiness in the marriage. Money isn’t just dollars and cents in a marriage, it can also represent control, self-worth, or freedom.
It can be used as a reward or a punishment. Different objectives or attitudes towards spending can cause significant strife. If you and your spouse are starting to hound each other over dollars and cents, then it’s time to have a chat. It’s important for couples to make an active plan about how they will manage their money:
Combine it? Separate it? Create a joint account and keep some separate? Whatever the plan, both people have to be part of the decision to do it and then figure out what needs to be done to keep the system running smoothly.
The only thing you have to be careful about here is not letting this “money talk” turn into a screaming match… keep things civilized, and if the discussion begins to get heated, shut things down and revisit it another day.
3. Give Yourself YOU Time:
While marriage is about giving, don’t make the mistake of giving too much. To have a good marriage, you need to be a good you, but what exactly does that mean?
It means that you need to learn how to prioritize and put boundaries around activities that keep you healthy and whole—activities like rest, relaxation, fitness and time with friends.
In other words, remember that scheduling “me” time into your day is not selfish, it’s a necessity. It will strengthen your relationship because you’ll have a saner version of “you” to bring to the “us” equation. There are a few phrases that can send the mind into crisis mode, and “I need space” is one of them.
Whether it’s you or your spouse hearing this, it’s natural to begin questioning, if you’ve been crowding them too much or if it’s code for “I want out.” However, needing space doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
By allowing you and your partner to each have some time for yourselves it will not only give you both the chance to cool down, reset, or feel eased, but it will also help put your marriage and any issues you’re facing into perspective.
Sometimes a little time apart may even be the key to dissolving your marital tension. If you would like to learn more about how you can prevent divorce and save your marriage today, then you MUST watch that free video presentation on my website at MarriageGuy.com.
4. Three Sentence Rule:
When you need to ask your partner for something that could be misconstrued as nagging, limit the request to three sentences—max. It may sound strange, but it helps when you need to be assertive, without coming off as aggressive.
By keeping your requests to three sentences or less it’s almost impossible to blame or use sarcasm, and it’s a lot more likely that you’ll get your point across without losing your spouse’s attention.
Body language is everything. Make your request with a smile, use a warm tone and positive body language.
5. Take A Time Out:
If you find yourself and spouse in a heated situation, don’t duke it out. Instead, consider taking a time-out, walking away, or getting some air. Humans are hardwired with a desire to win, which is why we have a hard time letting our guards down.
When couples talk about hot-button issues like sex, housework, money or kids, it’s not uncommon for the losing partner to turn up the heat and escalate the issue.
The next time you begin bickering with your spouse, take a break and revisit the subject when neither one of you feels overwhelmed by the topic. Going into a conversation that has the potential for debate with a calm and clear mind can avoid the argument all together.
Intimacy is an important part of any marriage, and is one of the first areas to suffer when feelings begin to dissipate.
Although, couples looking to mend their marriage frequently mention the lack of sex as a source of unhappiness, few people really understand the strong psychological effect frequent sex has in a marriage. Truth is, it can be the antidote to the problems in your relationship, and one of the best ways you and your spouse can revive a level of intimacy.
That said, it can be equally as frustrating when struggling couples try to force intimacy back into their marriage, and it’s not uncommon to feel like sex is a heavier burden than the actual fighting that has caused the emotional canyon in your marriage.
You and your spouse may even feel like sex puts pressure on you to perform, but romancing your spouse isn’t about punishing yourself. Think of sex as your secret weapon to saving your marriage.
It’s not about forcing yourself to enjoy sex, but rather sitting down with your spouse and openly communicating your needs and desires.
7. Give Up the Grudge:
It’s time to let go of your bad memories, and to do this, you need to be committed. It may sound easy, but believe me, it’s tougher than you might think. Hanging on to those “Do you remember the time you did such and such?” moments are the things that lead to relationship sabotage.
Instead of carrying grudges around forever, let them go. Try this: Write down all the negative memories that are a product of your marriage on a piece of paper.
Next, set a timer for a certain amount of time, however long you think you’ll need to fully let these go. During this dedicated time allow yourself to wallow in the misery of these grudges. Savor them. Get angry about them. Mutter about them.
Do whatever you need to do to get sick and tired of them. Once you are done, commit to not thinking about these anymore. Realize that these grudges have lost their usefulness, and there is no going back in time to change the course of history.
Now toss the list away, and let them go. Not only will you feel relieved and lighter, but by releasing this negative energy you’re opening yourself up a clean slate and fresh start.
If you continue doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting the same
results. So if you’re not happy with how things are, you need to take the steps to change it or things won’t improve.
And the best part is, it doesn’t take a miracle, it doesn’t take a ton of effort just some simple action steps will change your life and marriage fast.
What is a better investment than the health of your marriage and the happiness of your entire family? Without that, does anything else REALLY matter?