Anyone who is married or in a long-term committed relationship comes to realize that at some point there is a danger of falling into a lifeless routine. The vast number of marriage advice and relationship help books is a clear indication that couples are eagerly searching for ways to head off relationship problems and keep their relationship running on all cylinders.
Are marriage problems and painful relationship issues always inevitable?
Absolutely not-there are steps you can take today to prevent marital problems from taking hold and these steps can also help improve an already strong relationship.
Relationship help: 5 steps to a stronger relationship
1. Don’t let frustrations mount
Fact: You’re going to get frustrated with your spouse/partner from time to time– you’re only human, after all.
Trap to avoid: Too many couples let frustrations mount without clearing the air and addressing important issues. Unresolved issues have the tendency to fester and lead to bigger relationship problems-don’t put your head in the sand and assume your marriage or relationship will take care of itself.
2. Validate each other
Fact: As your life becomes more and more hectic, it’s easy to overlook each other.
Trap to avoid: Becoming temporarily preoccupied with competing commitments is one thing, taking the most important person in your life for granted is an entirely different ball game. Make an effort to check in with one another each day. Share the little things with your partner like you used to (when you first fell in love).
3. Don’t let the negatives outweigh the positives
Fact: Conflicts and negative relationship patterns have a way of spiraling out of control if left unchecked
Trap to avoid: Research shows that for your relationship to remain healthy, there must be a greater number of positive interactions between you and your partner than negative ones. Make an effort to acknowledge and highlight any positives that occur between each other-and heap on the gratitude for the little things your partner does for you each day.
4. Make the effort to break up lifeless routines
Fact: Your relationship will fall into predictable patterns and routines.
Trap to avoid: Routines aren’t inherently troublesome; in fact, many couples take comfort in their routines. However, continuously feeling bored and unenthusiastic about the time you spend together is a concern. If this is the case, the routines that once brought you comfort may be squeezing the life out of your marriage or relationship. You and your partner need to periodically infuse novelty into the relationship-stir things up by trying something new and exciting.
5. Find balance in your life
Fact: Taking care of yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually will help you be a better spouse/partner.
Trap to avoid: There are many different forms of self-neglect (working too much, repeatedly ignoring signs that you’re not feeling well, consuming too much alcohol, not getting enough sleep…) that will adversely impact your ability to be a present, reliable and responsive spouse/partner. If you stop taking care of yourself, there will always be negative fallout for the people around you, especially the people who love you. Commit to taking care of yourself so you have the emotional reserves for yourself and the important people in your life.
If the idea of implementing all of these steps into your relationship feels too daunting, pick one or two and stay with them. Each one can make a positive impact on your relationship. And if your spouse/partner is open to it, share this list and make a mutual plan to incorporate these ideas into your daily lives.