4 Ways to Ensure That Your Relationship Will Survive the Hard Times
All relationships go through ups and downs, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. In a healthy relationship, you’ll have good moments—the wonderful date nights, quiet moments of intimacy and affection, and all the major milestones in between. Still, you’ll have not-so-great moments, too—disagreements, miscommunication, and fights of all kinds.
It’s human nature to have these highs and lows, even if your spouse is also your best friend. Of course, you’ll find no shortage of marriage tips and changes to your behavior that can strengthen your relationship in its darkest moments. The first step toward that improved relationship—and a better quality of life in the long run—is to know how to push through the next time one of these hard times rears its head.
1. Communicate with your partner.
Communication is, first and foremost, a high-priority marriage skill for any couple. In fact, communication issues are one of the most common reasons for divorce! Even without reaching that level, poor communication can lead to negative responses, like accusations, sarcasm and passive aggression, or distrust and misunderstandings.
Of course, good communication includes those long conversations and sustained eye contact with your partner. But it‘s also important to acknowledge that healthy communication goes beyond what comes out of your mouth. Body language and other nonverbal cues, like facial expressions, are crucial in active listening and verbal expression alike. You and your partner may communicate in different ways, but you’ll learn to better communicate your own needs as they will theirs.
2. Balance time together and time apart.
Like communication skills, quality time can go a long way in helping you build and maintain a healthy relationship. Of course, love notes and even phone calls can have an impact but, for the strongest effect, you must be sure you’re spending time together regularly and in-person (unless, of course, inalterable circumstances like a long-distance relationship preclude such rendezvous. These connections allow for greater intimacy and let you connect on a deeper level than you could through text messages or video calls alone, giving your partner your undivided attention and vice versa.
In the long run, though, it’s just as important that you and your spouse spend time apart as well. As a general rule, ask yourself whether you have a genuine interest in a particular activity and, if that genuine interest is lacking, whether your being there would improve the experience for your partner. If not you’ll both likely have a more enjoyable time doing your own thing for the evening, and doing whatever that is in a meaningful way. So, the next time you get an invitation to social situations your partner isn’t so thrilled about, consider whether you’d both avoid a negative night if your best friend accompanied you instead (or, of course, if you went solo!). You both have your own interests, and it’s truly sage advice to enjoy them on your own at least some of the time.
3. Find ways to show your love each day.
Oftentimes, it’s the little things that make or break a relationship, just as much as healthy communication or quality time can. Sure, there are big moments—your wedding, the first time you hold your child, and so many other good things. But you can find beautiful everyday moments, too, increasing intimacy in the process.
You don’t need a PhD in the intricacies of human nature to go beyond effective communication and dive into deep demonstrations of affection, either. For instance, consider researching your partner’s love language. Do they thrive on words of affirmation? Ask yourself, then, when was the last time you said the phrase “I love you.” Has it been a long time since you took a chore off their plate? Someone whose love language is acts of service will prefer that to small talk or even deeper degrees of empathy. Chances are, you’ll thrive on different things, but keep an open mind for the quality of your relationship—these small things ultimately make up a happy marriage.
4. Enlist professional guidance.
Sometimes, in any personal relationship, you’ll find you’re facing communication problems that you just can’t find an effective way around. In these moments, a counselor can offer a third-party point of view and a way to move past your miscommunication or disagreement and forgive feelings of insecurity, abandonment, or resentment. Your couples therapist can help you understand one another’s communication style, seeking forgiveness and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
When you’re struggling in an intimate relationship, many people would incorrectly assume that seeing a couples counselor is a sign of weakness. On the contrary—it’s simply a sign of being a human being and seeking a positive outcome for your relationship with someone you love (in this case, your partner). Think of it this way: if you were struggling with your personal finances, you’d seek out a financial advisor or other professional. Why should your relationship efforts be any different than your financial goals? It’s this determined mentality that will restore your closeness as a couple, even as you learn to understand nonverbal cues and how best to communicate your needs.
Your counselor can offer the best marriage tips for you and your spouse, whether that’s through identifying communication patterns, understanding your partner’s point of view, or simply giving the two of you a much-needed platform to connect and discuss the issues that have been bothering you. The sheer act of scheduling an appointment or booking an intensive therapy retreat shows how dedicated you are to this marriage and your desire to make your relationship work out despite the ups and downs.
At the end of the day, this is a new way to work on your relationship. Whether you’re communicating with your partner one-on-one or making a once-in-a-lifetime grand gesture, take a deep breath and step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With each step, you’ll be that much closer to clarity and a happier, healthier connection with your partner. Even on those difficult days, you’ll know that you’re in this together.