By David Joel Miller.
Ways to get more mileage out of the marriage you have.
Marriage seems to be an endangered institution these days. Fewer people getting married and more divorces, people appear to be trading in their spouses faster than they are trading in their car. What we often find, with cars and with partners, is that there is a reason someone else is trying to trade theirs in.
Before you scrap your marriage and go shopping for a new relationship consider that whatever relationship you are in may be in need of a little refurbishing. Marriages need maintenance just like houses and cars. You may need to see a professional from time to time. That is what marriage counselors are for, but there are lots of things you can do on a daily basis to maintain that relationship before it falls apart.
Consider doing some of these activates frequently if you want your relationship to last.
1. Make couples maintenance a priority.
You’re in a relationship, you think you are past the hard part. Now that you have a partner you can focus on becoming a success in life. Not so fast.
Jobs will come and go. Life has its ups and downs regardless of the partner you are with. You may move around or change jobs. Your kids will grow up and launch out on their own. In all that living will you stay connected to your partner?
Put time spent maintaining that relationship in your schedule. Money may come and go but you only get so much life. Invest some of that time in maintaining your relationship. Otherwise, you will wake up one day and not know who this person you are living with has become.
2. Add more kind words to your relationship.
Families who are happy make kind words a staple in their emotional diet. There are plenty of times that people disagree and there will be arguments, but make an effort to say nice things to your partner.
If someone only hears about the things their partner does not like, but never hears that they are valued, they develop the belief that their partner does not see anything good in them or the relationship. For a long-lasting relationship say nice things to each other more often.
3. Touch is a two-way street.
Touch builds bonds. In early courtship couples hold hands, they snuggle and want of be close. Touch needs to be in the relationship for more than just the mechanical part of sex. Sex is good, it builds the couple relationship, but sex alone will not be enough.
Make sure you are including some hand holding, some gentle touching, and an occasional back rub or massage for a well-functioning relationship.
4. Talk more for more marriage mileage.
Humans use words for a lot more than conveying information. We think in words and we use them to express feelings. If you really want to understand your partner and to be understood, talk more. Talk not to convince them or to win the argument but to learn about each other.
Couples in the dating period do lots of talking, then they get together and there is progressively less time for talking. Life happens, the job, the kids. Over time people change. Make sure that you spend some time just talking if you want to know your partner. Otherwise one day you will wake up and discover that the two of you no longer know who this person is that you are living with.
5. Have new experiences together.
Far too many families discover when it is too late that the things of life do not make you happy. Yes, a new car or video game are enjoyable for a while but eventually, they wear out and get discarded. What you have after the things are gone are the memories.
Make memories together. You will need those good time feelings in the emotional bank when the trials of life arrive.
6. Problem solve. Use disagreements to brainstorm new solutions.
The easy solution to life’s problems is to fight for what you think you want or need. Do not blame your partner for the problems and make it all their fault. You are in this partnership together. Avoid win-lose solutions and spend some time looking for options that allow both of you to get your needs met.
Do not fall into the trap of trying to control the situation and your partner. When times are tough winning the argument can cost you the relationship.
7. Have something to look forward to.
Life should not be all grind. Have hopes and dreams and work towards them. Make sure you do not get so wound up in the work of living that you do not see the rewards down the line.
8. Do unexpected nice things.
One large meal will not fill you up for a month. Do not expect that an occasional nice thing for your partner should make them feel loved and satisfied.
In your love menu include small unexpected treats and you will maximize positive relationships.
9. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at your mistakes.
Trying to be perfect can leave you perfectly alone. The perfect person is very difficult to live with. Take the pressure off you and your relationship. Learn to admit when you are wrong about something and try to fix it.
Being able to laugh at yourself is a very helpful ability. We all do silly things at times. Recognize when you do those things and do not keep trying to explain why you did that or why it is not your fault.
10. Create new together activities and interests.
Couples, like individuals, need to grow. Grow together or grow apart. It is healthy for there to be interests that your partner does not particularly share. Talk about those interests some of the time. But also make it a priority to do new things together and develop new interests. This keeps the relationship alive and growing.
11. Put more kisses on your to-do list.
Happy long-term couples kiss more. These frequent kisses are not reserved for the start of sex but are liberally sprinkled throughout the life together. Make sure that there are quiet together times for these affection gestures. While your partner is struggling with a misbehaving child or an overflowing washer may not be the best time. But sometimes those are exactly the time to stop the flow of things and interject an “I love you” and a kiss.
Those are some of my suggestions for things you might want to do to keep your relationship in top condition. Have you found any other maintenance techniques that make your relationship run better?
For more on this topic take a look at these other posts on counselorssoapbox.com
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books