Whether or not you were just married or have been together for years, even the best of marriages can sometimes feel like they have hit a rut. You still love each other, maybe passionately, but life gets in the way, and you start connecting less than you did before. Here's how to give that marriage a bit of a boost, according to experts.
1. Focus on the Positive Characteristics of Your Partner
It is important to look for any positive qualities that you admire in your partner. "If you have experienced a lot of conflict in your relationship, this may pose more of a challenge initially," said Afton Strate, M.S., LCMFT of Anchoring Peace Therapy, LLC. "I encourage couples to find even small things that they can appreciate about their partner. When you have identified something that you like about your partner (e.g., their patience), it can be helpful to connect the quality with an experience that you have had with them." It could look like saying to them "I appreciate how you were patient when our car broke down because your patience helped us figure out how to solve the situation." You can also reference qualities that initially attracted you to your partner or an aspect of their character that may have been demonstrated more recently.
2. Respect Each Other
This may sound like a given, but respect is truly key to a happy marriage. "Be more interested in taking responsibility and fixing whatever problem you have than avoiding the blame," said Jentezen Franklin, author of Love Like You've Never Been Hurt. Do you want to be reconciled, or do you want to be right?
3. Do Something Different
The enemies of a creative and fun-sparked relationship are drudgery and routine. "Weekends are where people traditionally let their hair down, although this in itself can lead to stalemate when you end up doing the same things or can't agree on some new pastime," said Alex Reddle, a relationship expert.
There's an easy solution. Throw caution to the wind and do something you've never done together before. "The beauty of this suggestion is that the possibilities are endless, whether that's booking an impulsive weekend stay in a hotel somewhere, embarking on salsa classes, or simply heading off towards the horizon in the car with overnight bags and only the vaguest idea about where your mystery tour might culminate," Reddle said.
4. Have Fun Nights In
For all the social activities or clubs you could participate in, there's no better way to put some passion back into your love lives than doing so when there's no one else around. "Why not clear the furniture aside, choose a playlist of your favourite tunes, mix some homemade cocktails, then while away the hours dancing together?" Reddle suggested.
This will literally bring you closer together, since some of this music might be appropriate for the traditional slow dance section of any wedding. Perhaps it even featured in your own? "Lowering your inhibitions in this way will provoke laughter," Reddle said. It is also guaranteed to set the pulses racing if you decide to take your fun and frolics upstairs.
5. Get Flirtatious Again
Flirting should never stop just because you're married. "This is something you should continue to do to one another," Reddle said. "He's standing in front of you in the checkout queue at your local supermarket. Give him a cheeky pat on his backside."
6. Appreciate the Magical Moments
Don't focus on all the bad things going on that are causing you stress. Try focusing on the great times you've shared together and reminisce on them (over and over if you have to) during the not-so-magic moments. "When you habitually remind yourself of the good in your relationship, you create a new story in your mind that affirms your marriage and establishes a healthy foundation to build more happy memories upon," said author Toure Roberts, who just launched his book, Wholeness: Winning at Life From the Inside Out.
7. Become More "Mate Aware" Rather Than Just "Me Aware"
It's important to not be so obsessed with what we need from our spouse that we don't take the time to consider what they need. "Learning to look at life from your spouse's perspective helps you better understand how to love, support, and honour their needs. I've learned that when you do this, reciprocity undoubtedly follows. The best unions are the ones when you have two people doing everything in their power to make the other person happy," Roberts said. It goes without saying that this doesn't mean not considering your own happiness to be equally as important as your partner's, but don't forget to consider both sides!