Some may not agree but making a marriage work takes time, effort and energy. Once the honeymoon stage is over, real life begins and both partners have to be committed and involved if they want their relationship to last.
Regardless of the new or old relationship, there are certain things couples should do to keep the flame going. Don’t look at it as tasks but as tricks to live happily ever after, come what may.
From a simple “I love you” before going to bed to going out on dates or splitting household chores, these simple acts, recommended by therapists and relationship experts, will make your life and relationship much better. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Don’t leave the house without saying goodbye
No matter how hurried you are, hug and kiss your partner before leaving the house. It only takes a couple of seconds but it will make both your days better. According to psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, PhD, author of How to Be Happy Partners, “affection keeps the juices flowing and the romance alive”.
So, make sure you show small gestures of affection every time you can.
When complaining or criticizing, start with a compliment first
Being criticized is not something people take lightly, even if it happens with the best of intentions. If you want your criticism to be received in a different way by your partner, start by complimenting them first, recommends dating and relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca. She also suggests ending with a flattering remark or something you like about your partner so that the positive is emphasized instead of the negative.
Laughter is the best medicine
It might be hard to find something funny in a difficult situation but trust the experts, it can change the entire perspective on things and diffuse even the most frustrating situations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should make fun of your spouse. Just ease things up with a bit of humor that stands for “Don’t worry, we’ll make things work”.
Assign household chores evenly
Being the default spouse who needs to take care of everything, from bills to groceries, laundry, household chores, taking the kids from/to school can be exhausting. The one with seemingly more chores will eventually blow up and take its frustration on their partner.
To prevent that from happening, make sure you split household chores evenly so that everyone knows their responsibilities. It’s a win-win situation, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Family Issues.
Another study published in 2022 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior stated that the level of sex appeal of men, in the eyes of women, is lower when men are not actively involved in household chores.
Don’t neglect self-care and personal growth
It might sound cliché, but in order to be a good partner, mother, or professional, you need to prioritize self-care and personal growth. “Prioritizing self-care and personal growth is essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling marriage,” says hypnotherapist, life coach, and psychotherapist Susan Hepburn.
It’s important to take time to do things that you like, as an individual as well as a couple, enjoy your hobbies, go out for a walk, go to a concert. This way, you and your spouse can recharge your batteries outside your normal environment, aka the house, and create beautiful memories together, positively influencing your marriage in the long term.
Don’t focus on minor things
Let’s be honest! There’s no perfect relationship out there, no matter how much our Instagram or Facebook friends want to make us believe it. There will always be certain things that your spouse does that irritate you beyond reason, but it doesn’t mean they should be blown out of proportion.
Minor things such as chewing an apple to loudly or switching from one TV channel to another without really watching TV are not really topics in need of a serious discussion. If you can work around them, focus on the things that your partner does and you do like. It will completely change the dynamics in your relationship…for the better, obviously.
Take time to talk about your day
Life can be pretty hectic and it’s not easy to juggle between all the tasks and things on the “to-do list”. But at the end of the day, knowing that you have someone who cares about you and wants to know how your day went is pretty special.
So, instead of being just roommates who pass one another in the hallway or meet on the couch to check the latest feeds on their phones, take time to actually talk to your partner. According to Susan Trotter, PhD, relationship and dating expert and coach, “it can be something as small as doing ten-minute check-ins with each other at the end of the day, not focused on the to-do list but more about how they’re each feeling and doing”.
Not only will these small moments spent together strengthen your relationship but they will also add to the foundation of your relationship, solidifying it and making it more durable in the long term.
Stay calm instead of yelling
We all get angry and want to shout as loud as possible sometimes. But instead of having a heated argument that will probably lead nowhere, or to more heated arguments, try having a calm discussion. This approach could make or break a relationship. That’s because, according to a 2012 UCLA study, couples who have heated arguments more often than not are more likely to end up divorcing in 10 years’ time compared to couples who talk things through in a calmer manner.
As recommended by Laura Wasser, relationship expert and chief of divorce evolution at Divorce.com, keep your discussions civil as much as possible and remember that your partner is not your enemy and it’s not about winning an argument, it’s about solving a problem…as a team. It’s you two against the world not against each other.
Don’t talk about divorce every time you fight
Something else you might want to refrain from doing while in an argument with your partner is talking about divorce just to scare and hurt the other one. During a fiery argument, threatening your spouse with divorce is malicious and spiteful, warns Caroline Madden, PhD, author and licensed marriage and family therapist.
If you keep talking about separation, don’t be surprised if one day your partner will just say: Ok, if that’s what you want, let’s just get a divorce!”. It’s not because your partner no longer loves you, it’s just their self-defense and pride talking.
Learn how to say sorry for real
It’s not easy accepting that you’ve made a mistake and saying sorry, but it’s the mature and right way of doing things.
Saying sorry in a relationship, and actually meaning it, is a huge step in having a long-term, harmonious marriage. “An apology signifies that you have insight into your behaviors and that you see your role in the situation,” says Tiffany C. Brown, PsyD, owner of mental health clinic Family First Counseling.
Saying sorry should work both ways, that is, there shouldn’t be an imbalance between you and your partner. You don’t have to be the one always apologizing; conversely, you should not expect your partner to say sorry all the time, just to patch things up.
Speaking of things you should say in a relationship, here are 10 Secrets Women Would Never Tell Their Husbands.