Ever looked at your partner and wondered, ‘Where has the spark gone?’
Here you are, married to the person of your dreams, and yet you can barely remember the last time you felt over-the-moon, head-over-heels in love.
Deep inside, you know that something is missing. . .romance, maybe?
Rather than rush to the conclusion that your relationship has reached the point of no return, think of this moment as an opportunity to think along the lines of, “Is there something we can do to make things better?”
But before we dive deep into the “Hows” of things, let’s first talk about the “Why”.
Why do some of the best relationships unravel over time?
People often assume that the connection between couples will grow cooler and less intense over time.
But the truth is that your marriage can actually grow stronger and closer the longer you are together. But it will require extra effort from both of you.
You need to invest into what Dr. Gottman calls your Relationship’s Emotional Bank Account. For your marriage to flourish, you both need to make more deposits than withdrawals.
When was the last time you both paid attention to each other? Do you still remember the last time you expressed your admiration or support for what your partner is doing? Or the last time you helped with making dinner or doing the laundry? Or the last time you said “Thank you” to your mate and meant it?
Making the effort to acknowledge each other’s value in the relationship is a key investment into your Emotional Bank Account. And the more you put in, the more buffer you have left for when you need to make withdrawals.
These withdrawals from your Emotional Bank Account represent each instance when you or your partner are hurtful towards each other, or when either of you ignores the other’s invitation to connect.
And here’s one thing that Dr. Gottman also found in his research: the 5:1 ratio. It takes 5 positive interactions to make up for every negative interaction.
This is exactly why little things can amount to so much in the long run. Asking how each other’s day went every single day, for example, may not seem as grand as surprising your partner with a bunch of roses or taking him or her out on a posh date. But it’s those small acts of love and kindness that will help you both sustain your relationship when tough times come your way.
Need more ideas to keep the fire burning between you and the love of your life?
Here are some!
10 things you can do to keep your marriage strong
1. Prioritize time with your spouse
The greatest investment that you could put into your relationship is your time. Can’t seem to find the time to be with your spouse? Why don’t you both sit down and discuss how you can make your schedules work for each other?
Block out a time in your daily calendar and save it for your mate. Make spending time with him or her your top priority. Even something as simple as sharing one meal each day with each other can do wonders in your marriage.
2. Show affection
Just because you’ve been married for years doesn’t mean your affection for each other should disappear altogether. A gentle touch, a kind smile, a small act of service can speak volumes about the way you feel for your mate.
3. Play together
Go ahead! Have some fun with each other. Life’s already tough as it is, and you can definitely use more laughter and smiles in your marriage. The more happy moments you share, the stronger your bond will grow. Again, it’s all about making deposits to your Emotional Bank Account, and every happy moment you share is an extra credit to your balance.
5. Continue to date
You don’t really have to go somewhere fancy for it to be called a date. You can simply go out for a stroll in the park. Or maybe do a movie night at home. Or cook up something special for dinner. Whatever it is that you can do together (where you don’t have to talk about your bills or other problems) as a couple is always a good idea.
5. Show your appreciation
Relationships thrive on love. And one of the best ways to express love is by expressing our appreciation, not just with words but also with our actions. You might feel thankful for everything your mate does, but how well do you let your mate know that you feel that way?
6. Focus on the positive
No marriage is perfect, just as no human is perfect. Your partner will have his or her own quirks, just like you. But just as you wouldn’t want other people to focus on your negatives, you also wouldn’t want to do the same thing to your partner.
So the next time something negative comes up to mind, shift your focus to all the positive qualities that your partner has. If you’re still struggling in this area, it might be helpful to go back to the time when you first dated. What was it about your partner that you found attractive? There’s always something good in each of us, we just need the eye (and the determination) to see past all the flaws.
Communication is a two-way street. It’s not just you talking, or just your partner talking. It should be both of you talking to each other and seeking to understand the message you are both trying to get across. And this is where things can get tricky, especially when you are in the middle of an argument and your emotions are getting in the way.
So try to evaluate your current communication patterns. What can you do better? Remember, it takes two to tango, so work at openly communicating all the changes that you think need to be done to improve the quality of your relationship. This can be really tough, but don’t worry! It’s not impossible.
8. Share household responsibilities
Fatigue can cause even the best people to turn grumpy. So if things don’t seem to be working out for your marriage right now, maybe it’s about time for both of you to look into how you can lighten each other’s load.
Could you switch chores for some time? Maybe do the laundry or do the dishes for a day? Sharing household responsibilities will not only ease the stress that one of you probably feel, but it’s also going to help you (or your partner) feel supported and loved.
9. Be friends with each other
Marriage is not just the union of two people in love. It’s the union of two best friends. Are you still great friends? Do you still share your thoughts, feelings, wins, and losses with each other? Remember, good communication is key to keeping your friendship strong and alive.
10. Get Physical
No matter how crazy your schedules get, always, always make time for physical intimacy. While it’s not the only thing that makes up a marriage, it’s one of the most important elements of your relationship as well. So do your best to be present for your partner. Make time for “quality” time. You’ll be thankful that you do!
There’s obviously a lot more that you can do for your marriage than just these 10 things, but think of this as a good start to keep your spouse (and yourself) happy! Need expert help for your marriage?
Book a call with me today and let’s talk about how we can help you both get back on track.