When you want to keep your marriage strong, you might not know where to turn. You can ask friends or family for advice. You might even ask a marriage counselor. But we think you may be overlooking a resource that can be very helpful: people who’ve made mistakes in their own marriages! Below are five tips to help save your marriage.
1. Avoid nitpicking.
Instead of focusing on your spouse’s annoying habits, such as smacking her lips when she eats or leaving his jacket on the couch, look for opportunities to praise them. For instance, if she goes out of her way to be nice to your meddlesome sister, at the end of the evening, in private, kiss her and say, “I appreciate how nice you were to my sister. I know she can be difficult.” And if your husband picks up his shoes that are usually in the way, thank him for hugs and kisses immediately. These small gestures have lasting, positive effects, and they will further encourage positive behavior.
2. Reignite your intimacy.
It’s wonderful how when we first fall in love, we can’t keep our hands off each other. The honeymoon phase of a relationship involves getting to know the other person through talking and being intimate. After we get married, have children, and settle into our work-a-day lives, it becomes more difficult to sustain the intimacy we had at the beginning you have to work at it.
You have to make your spouse a top priority, as important as one of your children. This is why couples hire babysitters and set up “date nights,” or take a weekend getaway. It’s a lot easier to reignite intimacy when you’re not feeling the stress of children underfoot and seeing dirty dishes in the sink.
3. Respect each other’s parenting styles.
You and your spouse grew up in different houses with different parents and parenting styles. It could take a lifetime to learn all the nuances that have shaped your biases and methods.
And since parenting doesn’t come with a booklet, most of it is thinking of your feet and common sense. The best thing you can do for your kids is to present a united front.
Avoid undermining your spouse in front of your children. Instead, both of you should go to a private place, i.e., your bedroom, decide on how you’d like to handle the situation, and even if you don’t agree, present the “punishment” to the child. You will be glad you did. Kids are fairly easy when they are young, but as they mature into the teenhood and start making more serious mistakes the united front becomes really important.
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4. Your spouse is an individual.
Just because you’re married does not mean that the two of you have to be together every minute. She was her own person before you met, and he was his own person. If you have children, letting your spouse have free time is even more important. If your husband enjoys going to the gym, let him. If your wife enjoys running marathons, give her as much support as you can. All of this will pay off in the long run. Allowing your spouse to maintain his or her individuality makes them feel important, loved and boosts their self-worth. They will return home refreshed and ready to tackle parenthood. And as an added bonus, they will be grateful that you appreciate them and pay you back by letting you do your thing!
5. Find a hobby you can do together.
Just like date nights can help reignite intimacy, finding a hobby you can do together can help bring fun back to your marriage. When you and your spouse were dating, you probably did all kinds of things together: played darts went bowling or swing dancing, went to church or played D&D. Your spouse probably has hobbies with friends, but this is something just for the two of you, so you can do some relationship building. If you’re an outdoor couple, you might try running, cycling or hiking in the mountains. You might take a cooking or art class together. Revisit the “old days” of dating and join a bowling league or softball team. If you have children, try to find something just for the two of you, since you probably fill your days with carpooling and kid activities.
Best of luck for a long, happy marriage!