How to Fix Your Marriage: 11 Tips to Strengthen Your Relationship

Our relationships play a big role in our daily lives.

Unless you live alone, you have relationships with various people like family, partners, kids, friends, and coworkers.

It’s natural to have issues in relationships because we’re all human with our own unique personalities and habits. Keeping these connections strong can be challenging, especially in romantic relationships.

When you’re dating, it’s easy to focus solely on the relationship. But in marriage, you have to balance many things like kids, work, chores, and finances.

Sometimes, with all these responsibilities, the bond between you and your partner can take a backseat.

Your partner should be a top priority, so it’s important to address any issues and learn how to improve your marriage.

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Common Marriage Issues Explained

We all have our quirks and imperfections. It’s natural for those closest to us, like our spouses, to notice and sometimes point them out.

1. Poor Communication

Not talking openly and honestly can cause a lot of problems in a relationship. When you don’t communicate well, small disagreements can escalate quickly and cause bigger issues.

2. Money Arguments

Money can be a touchy subject. Whether it’s spending too much on the wedding or feeling pressure to keep up with others financially, disagreements about money can strain a marriage. Borrowing money from family and not paying it back as agreed can also cause tension.

3. Household Chores

Living together means sharing responsibilities, including chores. Differences in cleaning habits can lead to disagreements.

Messiness: One person might be neater than the other.

Tidiness: One might prefer a tidy space, while the other is more relaxed about it.

Fatigue: Sometimes, you’re just too tired to do chores after a long day.

4. Shifting Priorities

It’s common to feel torn between different aspects of life like your marriage, kids, job, and parents. Sometimes, it’s hard to balance everything, and time and attention can become scarce.

5. Trust Issues

Trust is essential for close relationships. If something happened that made your partner doubt you, like a decision you made or your friends, it can strain trust. Past unresolved issues can also make it hard to trust again.

6. Keeping Tabs

During stressful times, it’s easy to think about who’s doing more in the relationship. Maybe you’re doing chores while your partner runs errands. It’s not about splitting tasks equally, but both partners putting effort into the relationship.

7. Expecting Your Partner to Make You Happy

While relationships bring joy, expecting your partner to be your sole source of happiness can be problematic. Being happy with yourself is crucial; no one else can make you happy if you’re not content with yourself first.

5 Daily Habits to Keep Your Marriage Strong

Every day offers a chance to actively nurture your relationship. Even if things are going well, it’s good to keep strengthening your bond.

Here are 5 tips from therapists to help maintain a happy marriage.

Just like cars need regular check-ups, relationships benefit from occasional tune-ups to stay healthy. When things are going smoothly with no major issues, it’s a good time to enhance your relationship skills.

1. Express Gratitude

Over time, you get used to routines and the comfort of being together. While this is natural and can be healthy, it’s important not to take it for granted. Show gratitude for the little things by adding some extra love and appreciation to your daily routines.

2. Balance Giving and Taking

As time passes, some tasks that used to be easy might become challenging for both of you. Be a supportive partner and help out when you can.

After many years of marriage, balancing giving and taking becomes second nature. But as you age, what you give and take might change. You may need to adjust how you approach this balance.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Simply talking about improving your marriage might not be enough. Especially after issues like infidelity, actions can speak louder than words. Show your commitment by spending time with your spouse and engaging in activities they enjoy, even if it’s not your favorite.

For example, if your spouse loves baseball, consider taking them to a Houston Astros game. Or if they enjoy lively neighborhoods, have dinner in Montrose. Love involves sacrifice, so think of ways to show your willingness to make sacrifices for your spouse.

3. Have Your Own Life

While some couples love spending all their time together, it’s also important to have your own interests and social life. Maintain friendships and pursue hobbies that make you happy.

Enjoy socializing on your own, not always as a couple. Remember, a marriage is made up of two individuals.

Your spouse probably pays more attention to you than you do to yourself. While your appearance might not be a top priority for you, making an effort once in a while can show that you care.

4. Dealing with Natural Disagreements and Challenges

It’s normal to have disagreements in a marriage. Avoiding all conflicts might sound ideal, but it’s not realistic or even beneficial. Facing and resolving disagreements can actually strengthen your bond. The key is to fight fair.

When you argue, stick to the present issue and avoid bringing up past mistakes or unrelated grievances. For example, don’t bring up a job loss from five years ago or family issues that aren’t relevant to the current discussion.

Also, avoid mentioning the word “divorce” in the heat of an argument, even if things feel bleak. Threatening divorce can create doubt and instability. If you’re committed to working through your issues, avoid going down that path.

Remember, it’s okay to disagree sometimes. It shows that you’re both independent individuals.

5. Pay Attention to Small Gestures

Over the years, you might have developed routines, like making coffee for each other or handling household chores. Don’t take these acts of kindness for granted. Practice good manners by saying “please” and “thank you” regularly.

Small gestures can make a big difference in a relationship. Paying attention to these little things shows that you care and appreciate your partner’s efforts.

How to Improve Your Marriage: 13 Expert Tips

If daily habits aren’t enough to fix issues in your marriage, don’t worry. Sometimes, deeper changes are needed to strengthen your bond.

Your partner is your top priority. They’re there for you through thick and thin, but maintaining a strong relationship takes effort.

Every relationship has its challenges, but there are ways to navigate them. Here are 13 therapist-approved strategies to help rejuvenate your relationship.

1. Build Trust

Show that you’re reliable by sharing responsibilities, keeping promises, and being honest. Be mindful of what you say, avoid hurtful comments, and respect each other’s feelings.

2. Cherish Small Moments

Saying “I love you” or showing affection with small gestures can help keep your relationship strong. A brief touch or leaving a thoughtful note can show your partner that you care, even amidst the daily hustle.

Often, it’s these small gestures that mean the most and help you feel loved and supported.

3. Make Time for Yourself

If life feels overwhelming, taking time for yourself can help you recharge and be a better partner. Pursuing your own interests and maintaining friendships can boost your happiness and make your time together with your spouse more meaningful.

Having new experiences to share can also add excitement and help you rediscover your love for each other.

4. Maintain a 5:1 Positive to Negative Ratio

For every negative comment or action, aim to counteract it with five positive ones. This approach has been shown to create lasting positive change in relationships. Here’s why it works:

1. It boosts the overall positive atmosphere in your relationship.

2. It encourages positive behaviors, words, touches, and looks, even during conflicts.

3. It reduces negative behaviors, words, touches, and looks during disagreements.

Try to keep a positive view of your partner, especially during arguments.

Think of your partner as your best friend and treat them with the same kindness, understanding, and patience you would offer to a close friend.

5. Build a “Love Map”

Get to know your partner deeply by learning about their beliefs, desires, dreams, and preferences. Know details like their favorite color, best friend, hobbies, and what makes them laugh or feel emotional.

A “Love Map” is like a collection of intimate details you gather through regular conversations. Ask questions like, “Who is their favorite aunt?” or “What was their favorite song at age 16?”

Dig deeper by discussing love languages, their deepest desires, and what makes them feel valued and seen.

Open Up and Communicate

Remember those early days of marriage when you wanted to know everything about each other? Rekindle that curiosity and open communication. One of the main goals of couples’ therapy is to improve communication in a way that both partners understand each other.

Everyone has different ways of interpreting words, especially when upset. Being honest can be scary, but therapy can provide a safe space to open up.

6. Start with a “Soft Startup”

When discussing sensitive topics, begin the conversation gently. This is especially important for women, as men’s physiological responses can stay elevated after even a mild disagreement, a phenomenon Gottman calls “flooding.”

Both partners can experience stress during disagreements, but men’s physical responses can remain elevated longer. A “soft startup” involves expressing appreciation or positivity for about 30-60 seconds before addressing the issue, creating a safer environment for discussion.

7. Be Open to Influence

Listen to your partner and consider their opinions, thoughts, feelings, and needs. This is crucial, especially for men who might tend to withdraw or “stonewall” during conflicts by pulling away or avoiding eye contact.

8. Avoid Criticism, Contempt, and Attacks

Instead of criticizing or attacking your partner with “You never…” or “You always…” statements, express your feelings as complaints like “I’m upset because…” Criticizing or showing contempt, like rolling eyes or making put-downs, can damage your relationship.

9. Learn to Repair and Move On

After a disagreement, focus on resolving the issue quickly. Regulate and de-escalate conflicts to prevent them from dragging on. Agree to disagree if necessary, but don’t dwell on disagreements. Shift your focus to more positive aspects of your relationship.

10. Avoid the Four Relationship Pitfalls

These behaviors, known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are warning signs for divorce: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.

Here’s how to counteract them:

1. Criticism: Instead of criticizing, voice your concerns gently.

2. Defensiveness: Listen to your partner’s feedback as information, not an attack. Take responsibility for your actions.

3. Stonewalling: Learn to calm yourself to avoid withdrawing or shutting down.

4. Contempt: Foster appreciation for your partner to combat feelings of superiority or disrespect.

11. Share Your Hopes and Dreams

Discuss your visions for the future with each other and explore the deeper meaning behind them. Understand each other’s perspectives on your shared future and work together to enrich it. Support each other’s dreams and create shared goals to strengthen your relationship.

While problems are inevitable, there are ways to improve and maintain a healthy relationship. Seeking couples therapy can also be beneficial.

Stay realistic, acknowledge that everyone has flaws, and be willing to put effort into improving your relationship.

12. Find Common Ground

Discuss the major issues affecting your relationship and ensure you both agree on them. If one of you sees a lack of intimacy as the main issue while the other focuses on financial disagreements, both perspectives need to be addressed.

It’s crucial to be on the same page about the challenges you face. If communication becomes difficult or escalates into arguments, consider seeking help from a couples therapist. They can guide you through challenging conversations, improve your communication skills, and help you understand each other’s viewpoints better.

How to Fix Your Marriage

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