Marriage is difficult. Partnering with another person and building a life together comes with a variety of challenges that aren’t easily navigated. When it works, marriage is great; when it’s not working, you might be wondering what you did wrong, or what you can do to fix things between you and your partner.
Here are a few small changes you can make in your marriage or in your relationship that might just result in big rewards in the long run:
1. Greet each other warmly. Even though you see this person frequently, you should still maintain some level of joy when you see them.
2. Offer compliments. No one likes a nag- make sure you are able to mitigate your criticism with healthy doses of compliments and positivity.
3. Give thanks for each other and your relationship. Even when things aren’t going great, you can always look back and remember how much fun you have had throughout the years together. This can serve to bring you closer together, even in rough patches.
4. Speak the truth. You and your partner are buddies, and you need to take care of your buddy, even when it seems like you don’t like them too much sometimes. Remember to speak the truth graciously into their life, because you both love and trust one another. Don’t attack them but let them know when there is truth that needs to be spoken into their life. You are their caregiver, friend, and lover; you want what is best for them.
5. Look at the bright side. Even if you are fighting, arguing, or just going through a time where you don’t feel very connected to one another, look at the bright side. You picked a partner in life who cares for you, makes you laugh, and who has stood by you. These small silver linings can make a huge difference in how you see your marriage.
6. Let the small things go. It can be easy to expect perfection from your partner but remember that they aren’t here to be your everything. You need to be able to take care of your own mental, emotional, and physical health for yourself, not just for them. If little things don’t get done, don’t nag your partner. They are trying hard, too, and deserve to be seen as more than just a parent, a chore-doer, or a babysitter.
7. Physical contact is very important in any relationship. If you aren’t spending time touching each other, you likely aren’t communicating well about what you need physically from a relationship.
8. Serve each other. Taking care of each other doesn’t mean being a slave to the other person, but it does mean being gracious, kind, and observant of your partner. Try to make things a bit easier for them today and you will see that they’ll reciprocate!
9. Keep each other in mind. Whether you are religious and pray for them or want to send positive vibes their way, any amount of time you spend thinking about that person is beautiful, sincere, and helpful to your relationship.
10. Listen to each other. Too often we get used to the sound of our partner’s voice and it starts to become part of the background. Really tune into what your partner is saying when you have conversations- if needed, take a night off and go on a date, or change your environment so that you are more focused on each other than you are on the kids, your house, or your job. Really listening to one another can solve a myriad of issues in a marriage before they get to the breaking point.
11. Apologize sincerely. Don’t just apologize because you know that’s what you should do, or because you know that’s what they want to hear. Apologize because you hurt your partner and you want to make things better for them.
12. Kiss on the lips often. Physical touch in a marriage is incredibly important, but it’s often one of the first things that gets left behind as you spend more time in a relationship together. Kiss each other with that passion that marked the beginning of your relationship- who knows, it just might lead to something else!
13. Keep a sense of humor. Marriage is a struggle, but it can also be funny. Kids, mortgages, careers, and keeping up with each other can be very stressful, and a sense of humor often gets checked at the door along with whatever is left of your patience. Remember the things that make you laugh about your partner, and work to create a fun environment to be in together.
14. Give a soft answer. We can lose our patience in a relationship quickly but remember to be calm and polite towards your partner in conversations. Being snappy, sarcastic, and mean only leads to more problems.
15. Find quiet moments to be together. Whether you are at a party, going to the movies, or at a work event, take a minute to check in with one another. This can give you a moment to reconnect, engage with each other, and might lead to some romance.
16. Smile at each other. Over the breakfast table, at lunch, or in the midst of the chaos that is life, remember to smile. This person is your partner, and they deserve to see you happy as much as you want to see them smile, too.
17. Forgive easily. Life is too short to hold a grudge or bring up old hurts during an argument. If they say they are sorry, forgive them sincerely. You need to leave space in your heart and mind for other things.
18. Spend time together. Make time to intentionally spend time with your partner. We get lost in the busyness of life and forget to check in with their physical, mental, and emotional health. Take care of one another by treating each other to quiet, fun moments as often as you can.
19. Build each other up. Support each other’s goals, social circles, work lives, and home life. There’s nothing worse than coming home to someone who doesn’t believe in you, or who criticizes what you are doing. Build each other up with support, compliments, and belief in them.
20. Choose to practice love every day. Love can fade in a marriage, but that doesn’t mean it is gone. Choose love, even when it doesn’t come easily.