After the honeymoon ends and reality sets in, you begin to realize how much work goes into a healthy marriage. And yet, even decades after their wedding day, some couples claim their many years of marriage as the best of their life. Clearly, they've learned what it takes to maintain a happy marriage, so why can't you?
Here are the top five things that will make all the difference in your marriage:
1. Apologize and let things go
There's a misconception that apologizing is a sign of weakness. But in a relationship, doing so demonstrates strength. Happy couples will build their relationship by offering genuine apologies when they've done something wrong or hurtful to their sweetheart.
Being stubborn or holding grudges can tear you and your spouse apart. The longer you wait to apologize, the longer the problem will fester and infect your relationship.
Once you've cleared the air, learn to let the issue go, because leaving your problems in the past will allow you to grow closer together.
2. Honest communication
Communication takes work - a lot of work, but it's the key to a strong and thriving relationship.
There's a bit of a learning curve as you adapt to each other's needs.
Start with, "This is how I'm feeling, and this is what I need from you right now."
This statement will open an honest and judgement-free conversation that allows you to be transparent and straightforward with your feelings and with what you need from your spouse in return.
3. Focus on the good
Always focus on each other's good qualities. Comment on how much you appreciate your spouse and the things they do. If you are consistent with focusing on the things you love about them, the good will outshine than the bad over time.
On the other hand, negative attributes will be amplified if you choose to focus on them. Doing this will make the situation worse by creating a toxic atmosphere around your home. To keep your relationship positive, take note of all the little things your partner does for you, and thank them for it. If there's something that bothers you, express your concerns without pointing fingers.
4. Never say anything bad about your spouse
You never know who is listening, and it might get back to them. People who don't know your spouse could meet them and greet them with, "I've never met you but I've heard..." Don't talk badly about them, even if they aren't around.
Even if what you're saying is true, speaking ill of them promotes your underlying negative feelings. Every time you vocalize those thoughts to yourself, in your journal, to your mother, to your friend or even to your spouse, negative thoughts and feelings become rooted deeply and cause you to resent them for no reason.
Avoiding negative thoughts and promoting each other's positive attributes will immediately strengthen your relationship.
5. Learn each other's love languages
There are a variety of love languages, so you and your spouse may differ in the ways you receive and show affection. Make it a goal to learn your spouse's love language and vice versa. That way, you can always be certain you are meeting their needs.
For example, I have a friend whose love language is quality time. Her husband knows this, so he sits in the same room as her. But, he tends to fiddle with his computer, play a game or do homework when sitting with her. My friend explained to me that it took some time for her husband to understand that being in the same room was not the same thing as quality time.
The fastest way to find happiness in your marriage is to establish healthy habits from the beginning. Take time to discuss any changes you want to make in your relationship, and ask for your partner's cooperation and help. Honest conversations are worth the time to infuse your relationship with more life, affection and happiness.
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