When you have been in a marriage for awhile, it can be easy to begin to take one another for granted. Society is full of couples who have ended up apart, not because of some grand acrimony, but because they drifted apart. Divorce rates paint a scary picture. The pressures of life, work, raising a family and caring for elderly parents can make these problems all the more apparent.
A marriage is not a signed, sealed and done kind of deal. It won’t stay perfect unless you are willing to work on it. There is a good saying that applies to this kind of scenario: fix the roof while the sun is shining. Rather than trying to put back together a marriage that is fracturing, there are many things you can do to keep it in tact throughout.
- Talk to one another – but change the topics.
Communication is key to any relationship, but particular the one you have with your spouse. Many couples will think they communicate just fine, but on examination, the topics are always the same. They talk about their work, their children, finances and other baseline topics. They stop asking opinions of their spouse on things like politics, religion, music and the arts. By banning the basic topics for one day a week (excluding emergencies, obviously) can ensure you don’t feel you’re missing out.
- See a therapist.
The idea of couples therapy may be off-putting; associated with the process, a couple goes through before a divorce. However, if things get to that point, there’s only so much that therapy can do. Instead, choose to have a few sessions a year to make sure you’re both on point. It gives a safe, secure space to air grievances in a healthy way and get feedback from an impartial party. This can stop issues from continuing for years, unchecked.
- Make time to just be you.
While you love being with your children, sometimes it’s good to have some time away from them. It can be an entire weekend for a city break, or just a few hours snatched one weekend when they’re on a play date. Make some time as a couple to just enjoy the moment and relax. It doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “date night”. Just sitting in the garden for a couple of hours can give you a boost.
- Don’t be afraid to address difficult issues.
Unless you have married someone who is basically your complete mirror image, you’re going to disagree. It’s the way that you disagree that matters. If you sense there is an argument brewing, both of you should agree to step away. Return to the topic when you’re both ready and suitably calm. You can pre-agree this as a course of action, using a specific word that means you both have to back down immediately. By giving space to disagreements and letting anger calm, you save a lot of distress.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is one of appreciation. Thank your spouse for the things they do, even the most mundane things like emptying the dishwasher. We all want to feel appreciated.