Every marriage has its own unique joys and challenges, and it rarely aligns with our expectations. Comparisons we draw from entertainment and other relationships we witness between friends and family can set us up to believe that marriage should look a specific way. While there are certain things that should be constant within a relationship such as honesty and honor, as well as things that should never be present, like emotional, physical, financial, or sexual abuse, most other aspects of a marriage are completely varied. Still, that does not stop us from sometimes feeling frustrated with our marriage or our spouse, wishing that things would be different or even fantasizing about what it would be like to be with someone else. However, except for cases of toxic marriages where there is some kind of abuse or infidelity that the partner is not willing to change, most relationships can be mended and strengthened. It always takes hard work, commitment and daily conscious choices, but through committed love in action, we can love not only our spouses but our relationships with them.
This blog is not meant to speak to spouses who know or suspect that they are in an abusive or otherwise toxic marriage. We have touched on this topic in a previous blog that will equip you with tools more suited to your situation. Rather, today’s topic is meant to encourage individuals who may be feeling a bit stagnant, bored or hopeless about ever being fulfilled within the marriage, or becoming appreciative of their spouse again.
Below are three marriage practices proven to help strengthen the relationship between spouses that are attainable and can be applied no matter if your marriage is in a valley or on a mountain top.
Love your partner as they are.
When it comes to loving your partner as they are, it is always helpful to put yourself in their shoes and consider how it would make you feel if your partner were trying to change you. We can do more than appreciate what we like about our partner; eventually, we can grow to appreciate what makes them different from us. A spouse with different strengths can see the world differently, provide alternative perspectives and challenge our points of view. This leads us to maturity and a mutual understanding of one another.
We can begin to show gratitude in small yet significant ways such as thanking our partner for taking care of a chore we did not want to do or telling them that we are grateful for something about them, such as, “I’m grateful that you make me laugh,” or, “I’m grateful that you work so hard at your job.”
Having a consistent attitude of gratitude toward our spouse can be a catalyst for amazing change in a marriage, as it can help to actually change old habits of thinking negatively about our spouse.
A great way to begin intentionally prioritizing your partner is picking one night each week to “go” on a date. This does not even have to entail going somewhere or spending money on an activity, although trying new things together is encouraged. Sometimes, carving out a few hours to talk and connect, even if it is just at home, can be an excellent time to check in with one another and the relationship.
In addition to setting time for regular ways to get together, be intentional about loving your partner in ways that are meaningful to them. A great precursor step to this is to take the 5 Love Languages Test individually and then share your love languages with each other. This can provide great insight into which things communicate love to your partner. Perhaps giving your partner long hugs or back rubs makes a big difference in their day or doing an act of service such as cooking dinner or cleaning their car. Whatever their love language is, be intentional about learning it or taking notice of which gestures bring them the most joy so that you can continue to communicate your love to them in a meaningful way.
To achieve a healthy marriage that improves with time, both spouses must be committed to loving one another well and doing what is required to make the relationship function. Marriage can be one of the greatest gifts we experience in this life if both partners are willing to put in the time and work. In addition to incorporating the three tips we talked about today, know that there are other options available to help draw you and your spouse closer together that have worked for many couples.
In some situations, emotionally-focused couples therapy can help as well as joining a marriage group. Another great way to explore having a happier, healthier marriage is simply by learning from expert sources. In the footnote of this blog, we have included some resource referrals to help you get started.
We hope that this blog has encouraged you not only with ways to take your marriage forward but with comfort of the truth that you are not alone if your marriage is not where you want it to be. This kind of commitment comes with difficulties, but most can be overcome or worked out together if both parties are willing. You may even consider sharing this blog with your partner and together discussing ways you can incorporate its tips.
If you think your partner is treating you unkindly or you might be in an abusive relationship we have resources that can help you find clarity. Visit https://themendproject.com/am-i-the-victim-of-emotional-abuse/ for more information.