o Avoid Marital Suicide – When one or both partners decide the only cure for what ails their marriage is divorce, this is known as marital suicide. At some point in every marriage, one or both partners question whether or not they made the right choice in a partner. In many cases, the relationship is a high stress one and one or both partners begin to feel the best fix for their relationship ills is divorce. Most people don’t realize that divorce won’t fix the root cause of their issues, a lack of coping, communication or fair fighting skills. If they divorce, the same issues often surface in a new relationship. Understanding the actual issues within the marriage, and that divorce is not a cure-all, will go a long way toward strengthening the marriage.
o Listen more than you talk- Relationship experts’ number one recommendation to couples in crisis is to listen more than they talk. Try to listen actively, with intention and understanding, to your partner and summarize what you’ve heard so they know they’ve been heard and that you understand what they were trying to say. By listening to each other with empathy and compassion, each person has a chance to hear the other person’s point-of-view and be heard, which lends itself to bettering your marriage.
o Take responsibility for your part in the relationship – In taking responsibility for your part in the relationship and whatever issues are present, you not only avoid playing the blame game, but you recognize that there are issues which need to be resolved in a calm and respectful manner. Recognize which of your behaviors or habits bother your partner and try to correct them. Taking responsibility for your actions and your part in the relationship shows your partner that you are serious about the marriage; actions speak louder than words and, in this case, will go a long way toward healing any existing rifts.
o Be kind and avoid criticism – Being kind and avoiding criticizing your partner can be a challenge at times, especially when life gets stressful. Too often, partners in a marriage fall into a pattern of laziness where being mean and criticizing each other is common place. Remember the simple adage: “unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Try to focus on showing kindness and empathy toward your spouse whether or not they reciprocate. Always remember that you are not your spouse’s parent, teacher or mentor; you are their equal and their partner. Keep in mind some internal changes may need to take place in order to change criticizing or mean behavioral habits but it will improve your marriage.
o Find ways to serve your spouse – Finding ways to serve your spouse often rekindles the feelings from early in the relationship, even if you’re only doing small acts of kindness. Focus on things that might make your partner’s day easier, like packing a special lunch, running an errand without being asked or simply taking over a task they usually do but may not have time for.
o Forgiveness – Focus on forgiveness. One bride-to-be recounted the advice her mother gave her on the day before her wedding. She states that, after having expressed frustration with her husband-to-be, her mother replied, “Just keep in mind that he may not be the easiest person to live with, but neither are you!” When we forgive our spouse, we forgive ourselves and allow love in, which in turn gives our marriage a chance to heal and change course for the better.