Marriage is hard. There is no way around that fact. There are always going to be high moments and low moments. The key is getting through those low moments together.
Most people, when they get married, want their marriage to last forever (I hope so at least!). That is a worthy goal, and one that I believe is possible if both spouses truly want it to happen. However, with divorce rates being reported at around 40-50% of all marriages, I can see why it is hard for some to be optimistic about the chances of their marriage succeeding.
My wife and I have been married for almost 7 years now, and of course we have had our ups and downs. I doubt that there are any couples that haven’t. Nevertheless, we are still together and we still love each other and try to express that to each other as often as possible. Although I am no expert on marriage or family relations, I have learned a lot in the past 7 years, which is what leads me to this list of 5 ways to revive your marriage. Even if you feel like your marriage is strong now, there are always ways to improve it and to make it stronger.
As a disclaimer, I know that every marriage is different. I know that it may be hard to do all of these things, all the time. I know that there are things that work for some marriages that don’t work for everyone. With all of that said, I believe that you if are having problems in your marriage, doing any (or all) of these five things, will help you improve, or even save, your marriage.
In sum, if you want to revive any aspect of your marriage, you should do these of these 5 things!
#1 – Don’t Put Your Needs Before Those Of Your Spouse
The first way to revive your marriage is to not put your needs before those of your spouse. Being in a marriage requires love, devotion, selflessness, and sacrifice. There are going to be times where you know that there is something that your spouse needs or wants, but that may conflict with what you need or want in that moment. When that happens, if you both dig in your heels and are unwilling to compromise, inevitably it will create stress on your marriage.
I’m not trying to say that you always have to give in, and you always have to do what your spouse says. However, if both of you are really focusing on your spouse’s needs and wants rather than on your won, I truly believe that you will find an equilibrium and be able to compromise as much as possible. When your spouse sees, and truly knows, that you care about their needs, they will more than likely reciprocate and you will know that they care about yours too.
So how can you tell if you are putting your needs before those of your spouse? Here are two very similar examples. These may seem small or petty, but sometimes those can turn into the biggest issues.
- There is a big football game that you (husband) want to watch this weekend, but your wife had already planned a girls night out and needs you to watch the kids. You refuse and go out to watch the game anyway, leaving your wife to figure something out with the kids. Compromise – You talk to each other and get a babysitter, or you figure out a way to watch the game somewhere that you can watch the kids. Maybe you can DVR the game and watch it later?
- You (wife) plan a girls night out at the last minute, but your husband has been planning to watch a big football game with his dad for weeks. You shut down and refuse to change your plans, leaving him with the kids and with the need to cancel with his dad. Compromise – same as above. The key is to talk and figure it out together.
While the above example may not seem like a big deal, pretty much every marital problem can fall into this category of putting your needs before those of your spouse. Some of the big causes of marital strife and divorce are infidelity, pornography, and financial issues. It doesn’t require too much imagination to figure out how each of these can begin by putting your needs first.
#2 – Be Open And Transparent About Your Finances
Finances can be the root of a lot of arguments and disagreements in a marriage. You don’t have to be a marriage expert to know why. As bad as it may sound, so many things in life require money. It seems like every time you turn around there is another bill in the mail or an emergency that you weren’t expecting – and all of that is on top of the monthly bills and everything else that you have to pay already!
While it is true that money can’t buy everything, and that money alone won’t make you happy, it can make some things easier in life.
For many people you can’t control how much money you make or how many bills you have – there are a lot of unknowns in life and factors that we can’t do anything about. You can, however, control how you choose to communicate about money and those other unknowns in life with your spouse. From my own personal experience and what I have seen in others, not being transparent about these issues can only cause problems.
For example, lets say that you (husband or wife) are the main provider for the family. You make the money, you pay the bills, and you know all of the details about all of your accounts. Now lets say that your spouse doesn’t know anything about your finances – how much you make, how much you have to pay each month in bills, how much you are saving, etc. So what happens when your spouse thinks that everything is going great, and all of a sudden he or she wants to buy something expensive that was not in the budget. Now, if everything really is fine and there is enough to cover it, this may not be an issue. If, on the other hand, things aren’t great and you don’t have enough to cover the expense, what do you do? I can tell you that if you just get mad and say no without explaining why or being transparent, things could get ugly fast.
The better way to handle this, in my opinion, is for both spouses to have, at the very least, a general idea of your family’s financial situation. There is nothing wrong with one spouse making the money, paying the bills, handling the accounts, etc., but that doesn’t mean that the other spouse shouldn’t at least know how much money the other makes. This likely will not solve all financial arguments or disagreements that you might have, but I do believe that it can solve many.
Even if one spouse takes care of most of the finances, you both should agree on the budget and be dedicated to making sure that it works!
#3 – Never Go To Bed Angry (Or, In General, Leave Issues Unresolved)
One of the first pieces of advice that my wife and I received was to never go to bed angry. This advice has proved to be invaluable. I know that other people think that “sleeping it off” is the better way to resolve an argument. I have to say that there have been very few times that we do go to bed without talking through an argument. When we have, it isn’t resolved in the morning and we have to end up talking about it anyway. Because of that, we always try to talk about anything that is bothering us before we go to bed. There have been times when we don’t even want to talk to each other for a few minutes, but in the end we always work it out (and usually end up laughing about it) by talking through it.
In general holding a grudge against your spouse is a recipe for disaster. There are two quotes that I have heard that really explain it well – the first I remember hearing, but I am not sure who it is originally attributed to, and it says, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” The other is from Tim McGraw’s song, “Humble and Kind.” In one part of the song, he says “Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why, bitterness keeps you from flyin’, always stay humble and kind.” It is true – if you are bitter or holding a grudge, it will not allow you to elevate your marriage to a higher level and make it better.
This is one that will come up often in your marriage – if you want your marriage to last, do not leave issues unresolved and try not to go to bed angry as often as possible.
#4 – Go On Dates On A Regular Basis
Chances are that when you were dating, you were actually going on dates. Quite the concept, right? Chances also are that after a couple years of marriage (or less) you are used to the standard routine of work, school, sleep, etc. If you have kids, you may feel like you don’t have time to spend with your spouse and even if you did, who is going to watch them?
This one is tough and my wife and I definitely don’t go on as many dates as we would like to. It seems like the weeks come and go and between all of our own activities and those of our kids, we have a hard time fitting in dates. When we do go on dates, we are always able to reconnect and relax, taking a break from the normal routine. I fully believe that going on regular dates can save and/or strengthen a marriage.
So how do you do it? Well, make it a priority. Start out with a goal to go on at least one date per month. Once you have that down, try to go once every two weeks, and so forth until you are able to go out at least once a week.
Now a date doesn’t have to be anything fancy – I would define a date as really anything that you can do together, as a couple, in an environment where you are able to talk. Even if that talking only happens in the car on your way to a movie and afterwards.
10 Ideas for Date Night
- Dinner and Movie – a classic, but still a good one.
- Picnic in the park
- Couples massage
- Doing a volunteer project together
- Go to an amusement park
- Get together with a group of couples and play this Who Dunit? Group Mystery Date Night
- Go to the Zoo
- Go to a sporting event that you both enjoy
- Play miniature golf
- Go bowling
If you want to mix it up a bit, you might want to buy this Year of Dates Binder which includes 12 “done-for-you” date nights!
#5 – Do The “Little Things”
During the dating and honeymoon stages, it is normal to want to try to impress your significant other. Maybe you are leaving them notes, buying them flowers, picking them up for surprise dates, and more. These acts may be small, but they make a huge difference, because they show your spouse that you are thinking about them and that you want them to feel special.
As the months and years go on, it can be easy to forget about doing these little things. With work, kids, cleaning, activities, and more, it can feel overwhelming to do anything other than come home and relax before going to bed. While it may be common to forget about doing these little things, it is something that can definitely contribute to the downfall of a marriage. It may not be the main cause, but it can contribute to it and can create a gap between you and your spouse.
I truly believe that doing the little things on a regular basis can help strengthen, and even save, a marriage. Think about all of the time that you spend on your phone, surfing the internet, or just doing things that are not as important as your marriage! Doing something small to show your spouse that you are thinking about them, and that you love them, doesn’t have to take long at all. It can be as simple as writing a note and leaving it where you know they will find it during the day. It can be buying them flowers on a day other than Mother’s Day.
It can be coming home from work and taking the kids for a while so that he or she can rest. Since you are probably going to be using your smartphone most of the day anyway, you can even just try to send a special text message every day. If you need some idea starters, check out these 365 Love Text Messages which you can get for $3.65.
Whatever you do, make sure that it comes from your heart and that it is something that will really show them how much you care.
If you have fallen out of the habit of doing these things, your spouse may think it is odd when you start doing it again – they might even be suspicious – but as it becomes something that you do on a regular basis, he or she will hopefully be able to see how much you care and that could make all the difference!
Here are a couple of other inexpensive digital products that you can purchase to help you out with this important aspect of a healthy marriage.
- Sexy Sticky Notes
- Printable Love Sticky Notes
- Open When … Letters
- Love Text Messages 2.0
- Love Letters of the Month
Anyone who tells you that marriage is easy probably hasn’t been married. There will always be good days and bad days. The secret is learning how to work through the bad ones and to make the most of the good ones. Not doing one of the things on this list may not mean that your marriage is going to fail, but not doing any of them may. No one is perfect, and there may be stages of your marriage where you aren’t doing the best that you can. When that happens, evaluate the areas where you need to improve, and make the effort to do so. It will be worth it to you and your spouse.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.