One of the perils that married couples face in the 21st Century is that they don’t have enough time for the important things in life. Whether it’s that deadline at work or having to run errands at home, chances are they’re bouncing from one priority to the next.
In the middle of this chaos, it’s their marriage that suffers the most. This is a common situation for a lot people where they’re so set in their routines that their relationships get shoved in the backseat and languish in neglect.
However, you don’t have to fret if you’re struggling to maintain the quality of your marriage. There are some basic steps you can re-learn so that you and your spouse don’t drift apart.
#1: Trace Your Roots
So maybe you’re several years down the road already and you’re at a loss over how to keep your marriage from slipping. The first thing you can do is to reignite your sense of adoration and affection for each other.
Don’t worry – it’s easier than you think. To do this, go back in time and recall how you and your spouse became a couple. One of the most underrated methods to bring the love and motivation back into your marriage is to jog your memory and revisit the history of your relationship.
Doing this has a powerful effect on your mindset, not to mention reinforce the reasons why you got together in the first place.
In your mind, try to recreate your experiences from when you were a new couple. Think of everything you saw, heard, and felt as you began to discover the wonderful new person you just met.
Did you already know back then that he or she was The One? Or was marriage the farthest thing from your mind? It’s ok if you fall under the latter – no one is expected to be that certain at the beginning.
The point of this exercise is to remind yourself of why you were attracted to your partner, and not about whether or not you were sure about getting married.
The process of falling in love is focused on the “here and now” rather than the big picture. Think about all those intense, passionate feelings you had for each other.
Just being apart for a day felt like agony, and the hours flew by like minutes while you were together. This is what the romantic stage of a relationship is all about.
Now ponder on the specific aspects of your spouse’s personality that swept you off your feet. Was it their kindness? Their confidence? Their infectious sense of humor?
Maybe it was how they knew just what to say to make your heart melt. Maybe it was the fact that they could do no wrong in your eyes. Anything and everything they said or did was wonderful – in short, you were addicted.
Once you regularly do this, you can create a healthier, more positive mindset about your spouse, especially if you’ve been getting on each other’s nerves lately. You’ll find it a whole lot easier to tackle your problems when you can teach yourself to see your spouse in a better light.
#2: Move Past The Disappointment
The next step is looking at the present picture. Compare how you felt back then to how you are now. Has there been a huge change in your fondness for your spouse? Do you feel that you’re still on the same page as them?
At one point or another, you’ve probably figured out that the romantic feelings you had at the start has gone down considerably as the months and years went by. Knowing this, you might feel like something’s wrong with your marriage if you can’t keep the passion high all the time.
Don’t fall for this typical fallacy. This is expected of all couples as they grow within the relationship and start to learn about each other on a much deeper level than before.
Just think of it this way: both you and your spouse are simply going through changes that happen in all relationships – no exceptions. Even if you’ve cooled off a bit, you can still turn the glowing embers that remain into a roaring flame once again.
To make this happen in your life, you first have to accept – and more importantly, EMBRACE – the hard truth that you and your partner won’t always be head over heels with each other.
Half the time, you’ll feel the complete opposite, and that’s perfectly ok. It isn’t just about the good times, but how you handle the bad times. Keep in mind that the ability to work past the disillusionment is the mark of a solid, grounded relationship.
Don’t forget that marriage is not just about the high you get from falling in love. It’s a wonderful thing for sure, but you also have to put in the effort after you’re past this stage. And that means prioritizing your spouse’s welfare regardless of whether you’re feeling romantic or not.
Don’t be someone who chooses to stay in a marriage just because it’s comfortable. Make the conscious decision to be there for your spouse, and not just for the sake of it. That’s the kind of attitude that will get you far in your marriage.
#3: Strengthen Your Relationship
You can manage the storms in your marriage by structuring your marriage in such a way that you can openly disagree with each other without the typical passive-aggressive tactics that some couples resort to.
Aim to reach an ideal state of reciprocation where you lift each other up on a daily basis. It’s a gradual process for sure, but making a deliberate effort to sustain this every day will get you there.
To get started with this journey, approach your marriage with a pro-active attitude. Don’t wait for your partner do something before responding with your own good deed. Make the first move to set the bar high in your marriage by acting with kindness, warmth and respect.
Don’t resent having to do the work if your spouse doesn’t share the same initiative. What’s important is that you’re setting a standard of goodwill that will inspire him or her in the long run.
It may feel awkward to make this shift in attitude if you’ve been bogged down lately with negativity. Eventually however, you can get past the initial weirdness of going back to being affectionate and respectful.
That’s not to say you aren’t affectionate and respectful now, but sometimes we slip here and there along the way. Today is a perfect opportunity to “get back on the horse”, so to speak.
If you’re having issues or disagree on certain things in your marriage, don’t treat it as a chance to blame it on your partner. You won’t get your spouse on your side with a laundry list of complaints about their personality.
Rather than accuse your spouse, get him or her to tackle your issues as a SHARED problem. Sometimes, having a “you and me against the world” outlook is helpful to get around your problems.
Also, make your spouse feel valued by acknowledging their emotions. Nothing is more frustrating than a partner who doesn’t appreciate where you’re coming from or turns a blind eye to your contributions to the relationship.
Find every excuse to say something that lets your spouse know you understand how they feel. Tell them how much you value everything they do for the sake of your marriage. Thank them within earshot of your other loved ones.
You can take this positive trend to the next level by going as far as sitting down with your spouse and taking turns praising one another. Whether you prefer putting it into writing or doing it verbally, exchanging kind words will be music to both your ears.
As for your disagreements and differences in opinion over sore spots in your marriage, talk to your spouse in order to answer this question: What can BOTH of us to do tackle this issue?
This prevents you from hurling accusations or attacking your partner, even in the heat of the moment. Don’t get into a downward spiral where the problem-solving process gets reduced to an exchange of put-downs.
Any kind of change takes time, but the work you’ll put into it is worth it. Stick to finding the good things in your relationship so that the connection you share with your spouse will deepen in the process.
Lastly, always find a way squeeze in a date or two as often as possible. The everyday, ordinary moments add up in the long run – this makes them far more powerful than the occasional out-of-town trips.
Make it your mission to look for an excuse for shared activities, even if it means getting groceries, walking the dog or a quiet evening at home while snuggled up on the couch.
If you’re strapped for time, then don’t pressure yourselves into going out for long hours. What matters is that you’re actively clearing your busy schedule for precious chunks of couple time here and there.
In the end, your relationship with your spouse should be a sanctuary from the craziness of the world. Become a pillar of strength for each other, and you’ll grow in ways you never thought possible.
Life may not be perfect, but having a well-maintained marriage is the best antidote to cynicism and estrangement.