Every marriage has its ups and downs, its rough periods. Even in the best of circumstances, there are going to be difficult times.
Over time, the natural ebb and flow of everyday life places incredible pressure on a relationship.
Almost unnoticed at first, you begin to think thoughts that had once been unthinkable. "I love him, but I'm not in love with him. Not anymore." "I'm not attracted to her, not like I was in the beginning." "Maybe if we separated for awhile ..."
The skies can darken in a hurry.
But if you survive these darkest of times, you may find you emerge with a stronger, more trusting relationship than you ever imagined possible.
Here are a few tips that might help you toward that goal ...
== Have a clear understanding of your expectations. Couples rarely take the time to discuss how the little things will work. What does romance mean to each of you? How will the finances be handled? How will your children be raised? What role will religion play in your relationship? What makes you feel loved? What hurts you? How will arguments be resolved? How will decisions be made? What do you need from your spouse, what does your spouse need from you?
== Don't fight unfairly. There will always be disagreements. Deal with the matter at hand. Don't drudge up all your hurts and disappointments from the past. Those are different matters, to be handled separately, at a different time. Keep focused on the issue under discussion and avoid muddying the waters with generalized personal attacks ("You're always nagging." "You never do anything unless I tell you to do it first.")
== Face the issues that are facing you. Hiding from reality never leads to a happy ending. If you're experiencing financial problems, admit it, get it out in the open.
== Be honest with yourself. Take a step back and give yourself a good long look in the mirror. If your behavior is undermining your relationship (whether it's the way you communicate, or how you treat your spouse, or your personal destructive behavior) own up to it.
== Take the initiative. Understand that waiting for your spouse to change first will likely result in no change at all. Actions come first. Thoughts and feelings follow. Change your behaviors and watch your spouse's behaviors change in response.
== Rebuild compatibility. Time has a way of unveiling the differences between couples, especially when your marriage is in trouble. Seek out those interests you have in common with your spouse. Look for opportunities to share activities together. Perhaps it's ballroom dancing, or photography, or camping, or trips to the beach.
== Remember what it was like when you were dating. What was it that first attracted you to your spouse? What made you first fall in love? How can those feelings be rekindled?
== Keep your sense of humor. Life is challenging enough without having to live with a brooding, angry spouse. Laugh out loud the way you did when you were a kid. Happiness is a choice. Exercise it.
Marriage is a sacred vow to love your partner for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till ... well you know the rest. Unfortunately, for many people, the pressures, challenges, and monotony of married life have doused its wonderful positive aspects.
Maybe it's time to rekindle the magic.
About the Author
David B. Silva
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