You’ve begun to feel unhappy in your marriage. You and your spouse haven’t been spending time together like you used to. There’s distance between the two of you, and your interactions have cooled. As blissfully happy as you were when you got married, you can’t imagine how you got to this point.
This is supposed to be your soulmate, right? So what is going on? Do you even know this person any more?
Long before we ever get married, we imagine that once we’re in a marriage with our soulmate, that person will meet our every need. But that’s not true because even after we say our vows, we’re still the same people with the same baggage and the same emotional hard-wiring.
Even though you love your spouse deeply, you will still feel unhappy and alone sometimes. This is normal; it’s not an indicator that something has gone wrong with your marriage.
1. COMMUNICATION IS A KEY.
“Being an open communicator is so important,” says Dr. Coles. “That’s the only way to get through this busy life. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. If someone really struggles to let you know what they’re thinking and have inner conversations that don’t come out, that’s probably because they don’t trust you, or trust themselves to communicate their needs without hurting you.”
2. SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER
One great way to bring happiness back into your relationship is to make more time for each other–valuable, energized time, not the leftovers after you’re already exhausted.
The two of you need time to hang out together, when you can be playful and affectionate with each other. You can’t do that when you’re focused on kids or your to-do list.
It’s easy to get stuck and comfortable in patterns that starve your marriage of this special one-on-one time, but it’s imperative that you find ways to ignite one another’s desire for that companionship.
Be fully present with each other as you create space in each day where you can slow down together. These moments are essential to the well-being of your marriage.
Share your dreams; inspire each other. What are some things you dream about doing together as a couple? Perhaps you can plan a special vacation that signifies a new day in your relationship.
If you’re having trouble finding the time to set aside for one another, we suggest that you take our very short time assessment. It will help you identify your (and your spouse’s) major time style, and will give you insight to one another’s approach to time. This will set you on the right path to creating moments for just the two of you.
3. REMIND YOUR PARTNER THAT YOU APPRECIATE EACH OTHER
After you’ve been married for many, many years, that passionate kiss when your partner walks in the door can easily morph into a peck on the check that can then morph into an inability even to look up from your computer. Over the course of my 23-year marriage, there are times when I’ve felt my own husband and I were starting to become so familiar with each other that we were settling into a stultifying — albeit comfortable — routine. But there’s a real danger in that. Studies show that nearly half of men who have cheated say it was because of emotional dissatisfaction — and not sex. When men don’t feel connected or appreciated by their wives, they are vulnerable to the advances of any attractive woman who casts a lustful glance their way. And fellows, it works the other way as well.
In his film “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen charged that “a relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” I believe he was right.
4. BE GENEROUS WITH ONE ANOTHER
It’s important to cultivate a spirit of generosity toward your spouse. In fact, it’s the best marriage insurance you can invest in.
Being generous has little to do with money; focusing extra time and effort on your spouse will make a world of difference in your marriage.
Little things count BIG. Offer your husband or wife little comforts, tokens of affection, extra help, or special attention. If your wife loves to have her back massaged, offer that to her–don’t wait for her to ask. Or if your husband likes to have coffee before he leaves for work in the morning, prepare it for him, and maybe throw in something special, like a flavoring or a creamer he enjoys.
Be careful not to keep score, though. Being petty and keeping tabs is definitely not the way to draw happiness back into your marriage.
When it comes to paying extra attention to your spouse, go above and beyond to display generosity and unselfishness. The impression you’ll leave on him or her will be hard to ignore.
5. EXERCISE FORGIVENESS
As Ruth Bell Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” No matter what you face in your relationship, it is imperative that you and your spouse be willing to forgive one another’s shortcomings.
Forgiveness in marriage is the only way to move forward through a period of unhappiness. It’s likely that both of you have done (or not done) and said (or not said) hurtful things to one another leading up to and during this time.
While it’s tempting to hold onto that negativity as an excuse to keep your spouse at arm’s length from now on, resist the fears you have and release your right to exist in a defensive state. Withholding forgiveness will foster bitterness toward one another and drive you further apart.
6. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES
When you’re going through a difficult time in your marriage, it’s easy to allow yourselves to be completely drowned in negativity until you are unable to see the positive aspects of your spouse and your life together. During times like these, it’s important to be deliberate about being positive and cultivating a sense of gratitude for your blessings.
Not only should you take responsibility for your part in the bad situations you face; you must also take responsibility for the good times–that is, what good you can create in, and extract from, your life.
Create a daily habit of having several positive interactions with your spouse. Thank them for what they do for you; pay them compliments; take the time to point out or share something that makes you feel good (or that you know they’ll appreciate).
Gratitude will protect you from losing yourself to negativity during times of marital unhappiness.
No matter what, always believe that good wins, every time. If you stay focused on the good around you, you and your spouse have much greater chances of overcoming unhappy seasons.
HOLD ON TIGHT
How you feel in your marriage right now isn’t how your marriage will always feel.
The truth is, relationships are ever-changing. Love is always evolving. Hold tight to each other as you ride out the rough times together. When you come out on the other side (and you will!), you will be closer than ever.
Read this Article: Happy Marriage