August 13, 2012 at 11:53 am , by T.K. Brady
We’ll admit it–we’re all guilty of a little marital neglect from time to time. With the day-to-day stresses of life and family (kids, bills, health, work!) sometimes giving your marriage the TLC it needs to stay healthy falls to the bottom of the list. But it doesn’t have to. Here are 5 easy ways to keep your marriage strong from Dr. Susan Heitler, the relationship expert behind the cool online marriage counseling tool Power of Two.
1. Increase the sunshine. Count the number of positive vibes you give your spouse each day. How often do you smile, caress, enjoy, agree with, and joke with your partner? That sunshine factor makes a huge difference in the overall quality of a relationship.
2. Switch complaints to requests. Complaints are negative and backwards-looking. Requests look ahead. Begin with safe sentence-starters like “My concern is…,” “I would like to…,” and “How would you feel about …?” While you’re at it, aim to eliminate critical comments, especially when they’re delivered in that irritated tone of voice. That’s not going to get you anywhere.
3. Don’t compromise. We know, it sounds shocking to ‘diss the good old compromise, but there’s an even better way: Resolve your differences with win-win solutions. Make a list of issues over which you sometimes argue. Pick a quiet time for a meeting and issue-by-issue, share the details of your concerns and then create solutions that actually feel win-win for both of you.
4. Play together. Create ample time for each other. Cordon off at least some one-on-one time for hanging out together without children present every day, with larger chunks on the weekends. It’s hard but it can be done if you get into a routine and stick to it.
5. Aim for zero fighting. Agree that any time that either of you feels the beginning rumbles of a potential anger outburst, you will exit the room, calm yourselves, return, and then talk together pleasantly for a few minutes about a safe topic before you take a second try at discussing the hot topic.
We love that Dr. Heitler says “marriage is for grown-ups.” (That is, couples who cherish each other, who treat each other with respect, and who talk over their differences collaboratively.) So true! If your skills in these areas need a little work, check out our partnership with online counseling tool Power of Two — you’ll get three free days to give it a try.