Marriage and relationships are hard work. When we commit to someone, we too often expect the fairy tale. We want to feel butterflies in our stomachs every day, just as we did the first time that we met that person. Or, we minimize the warning signs of trouble ahead until they grow out of control.
Perhaps we entered into a relationship for the wrong reasons, and are now regretting it. Maybe we started fighting a few years ago and never stopped. Regardless of the problems in our relationships, there are tools and techniques we can use to improve them. If we have decided to stick with our partner and improve a challenging situation, here are some best practices – Photo Credit: Pexels
1. Find Help Early
Too many couples wait until it is too late to seek help for a struggling relationship. Either one person is not interested, or both use cognitive dissonance to avoid the topic. In fact, the average couple waits 6 years to seek marriage or relationship counseling. This implies that the average couple survives in an unhappy situation for much too long of a time. Do not wait until things start to get bad to receive the help that both of you need.
2. Watch How You Speak
When you get comfortable with someone, it is easy to be rude or snarky with them. We roll our eyes when our spouse hasn’t done the laundry or cleaned the kitchen, or we make snide remarks. We may not compliment our partner after he/she wears a new outfit. What we say in relationships matters. Pay attention to how you talk to your spouse or partner for the next few weeks. If you catch yourself saying rude remarks, try and adjust your language moving forward.
3. Have High Standards
While it is good to be forgiving and loving towards our partners, it is not good to accept bad behavior. If our partner continues to say rude things, avoids emotional intimacy, or does not work together in therapy, then we have a right to call him/her out. Discuss the two of you to determine what you both expect from the relationship. This can help to better understand the other person and know what parts of the situation you can change.
4. Focus on the Positives
It’s very easy to look at the negatives when we are in a struggling relationship. We compare our partners to other people and only see the irritating aspects of their personalities. While it is not healthy to ignore weak spots and pretend they do not exist, it helps to highlight the good as well. Why did you decide to be with this individual? What do they do to support you? What positive things have they done this week? Make a list and review it every time you start to focus on the negatives in the relationship. This can help to change your attitude towards the situation, while also demonstrating to your partner that you value him/her.
5. Spend More Time Together
When you are not getting along with your partner, it can be challenging to spend more time with him/her. This is particularly true in the age of COVID-19 when we have been in close quarters with those we love. Spending time together does not include watching television without the two of you conversing. Go on a walk, take a mini trip, get a massage, or eat out at a restaurant more often. Find activities that both of you enjoy. If you have children, do not include them in these activities. You need time with your partner to bond and improve the relationship.
Are you struggling with marriage problems? Do you have a lot of anxiety and depression? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.