How to Help Your Marriage Last
Sally and George live in Lake Oswego, Oregon. They were so in love when they got married. Never argued or disagreed. They went on adventures and loved spending evenings at home with one another or trying out to a new restaurant.
Life feels so different now seven years into the marriage. Since adding a child into the marriage two years ago, the love feels like it is disappearing.
There are more disagreements now. And Sally or George often say hurtful things during arguments. Or they avoid arguments all together because they are tired of fighting.
Sally and George are committed. They want their marriage to last. But they don’t know what steps to take to get there.
Every couple gets married with the hope of it lasting forever. Divorce is painful.
There are steps you can take to help your marriage last. And the best part is, you can enjoy the journey of creating a happy marriage.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the journey of helping your marriage last:
Tip #1 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Do Fun Things:
It is easy to get wrapped up in all the parts of life that keeps us busy. Work. Kids. Appointments for the kids.
Before you know it, your marriage is all about keeping all the plates spinning. It’s all about sharing responsibility and not about having fun.
Placing an emphasis on fun keeps your marriage from going stale. And it wards off the possibility of your marriage turning into “just roommates.”
Go on dates. Schedule them. Put them in the calendar. And if your spouse says no, keep pursuing them. Just as you would before you were married.
Need some ideas to help get the creative juices flowing? Here are 26 date ideas to get you started.
Tip #2 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Be Interested in Your Spouse:
How did you treat your spouse before you were married? I’m willing to guess that you asked a lot of questions and listened to how they would respond.
Why would you do that?
I’ll tell you why. Because you were interested in what they had to say.
Don’t lose that.
Place greater emphasis on listening more and talking less.
Be someone who asks good questions.
People are not a monolith. They don’t stay the same forever.
Humans are creatures that grow and mature throughout their lifetimes. Opinions can change. Interests often change over time. The activities that your spouse engages in will likely not stay the same forever.
Be interested in learning about your spouse throughout your marriage. You will never fully never know your spouse.
Never stop being interested in your spouse.
Tip #3 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Get Off Media:
What do you do when you get home after work and finish eating dinner? Does the television go on? Do you each hop on your phones and spend an hour or two taking in more content? Video games?
Being distracted will keep your marriage from getting the oxygen it needs to survive.
We all like to be entertained. It’s kind of an epidemic in our society. We don’t know what to do when we don’t have a screen in front of us.
Nothing could be better for your marriage than together deciding how to stay entertained in ways that don’t require a screen.
Tip #4 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Cuddle Time:
Did you know that spending as little as five minutes a day cuddling up to one another can dramatically increase your level of happiness in a marriage? It releases those feel-good endorphins that are so valuable in a relationship.
I’m not even talking about sex (though that is great, too).
Something as simple as holding hands can make a huge difference in the health of your relationship.
So go ahead and cuddle up on the couch. Or hold hands on the porch after the kids are settled down and in bed.
Make it a point to set aside five minutes a day to cuddle up. Your marriage is worth it.
Tip #5 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Engage in Hard Conversations:
Marriage requires hard conversations to take place. I don’t know of any marriages that have been able to avoid disagreements (though you should email if you have because I have questions!).
And when conflict or hard conversations start showing up, many people do what they can to avoid them. They ignore them. Or stuff them down.
And if they are unavoidable, then those disagreements may turn into intense arguments. Often things are said or communicated that increase the conflict.
But you don’t want to ignore or avoid the conflict. That just kicks the problem further into the future. And you don’t want to get into a heated fight with raised voices.
Using active listening skills and “I statement” can help the disagreements or conflict from turning into a “blame game.” And you will likely improve your ability to listen to the emotions behind what is being shared.
Stay away from statements that will increase conflict.
Tip # 6 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Don’t Ignore Yourself:
I often tell parents that the greatest gift you can give your kids is a strong marriage.
The truth is that the best gift you can give your marriage is a healthy, whole self.
Learning to manage your emotions will help you better engage in your relationship.
The negative self-talk that you experience has an impact on your marriage.
Tip #7 on How to Help Your Marriage Last — Ask for Help:
Sometimes our relationships get to a place where we could use a little help. We need a third party to provide a different perspective. Or get us out of a relational pattern that isn’t working anymore.
For these situations, marriage counseling can be great!
Participating in marriage counseling can have enormous benefits for a relationship. And the use of online counseling provides a greater amount of flexibility. This can be helpful in cases where the babysitter bails or your work schedules are tight.
If you like the idea of making communication a strength in your relationship or being able to understand each other a little better, marriage counseling may be exactly what you are looking for.
Marriage takes effort. And if you’ve made it this far into the blog, you are obviously committed.
If you add these steps into your marriage, your relationship will experience improvement. And you will begin to build the relational muscle that will help your marriage last through the tumultuous times that come with life.
Jason Wilkinson is a marriage counselor at Wellspace Counseling. Wellspace Counseling serves individuals and couples in Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and Portland, Oregon. Jason is also able to provide marriage counseling services to couples throughout Oregon through the use of online counseling.