Want a Happier Marriage? 10 Tips for Recapturing the Romance

Most of us get married with the intention of staying married for life. We don’t set out on our wedding day to create problems, fight, grow apart or get divorced. My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years, our children are 13 and 11. One day we looked at each other and realized we had grown apart. We had become so focused on raising great kids and building our careers, that we had let each other fall to the bottom of our to-do list. Just realizing this was the first step in repairing the distance and recreating a happier marriage.

Are you children getting in the way?

If you have children, then you know what a difficult challenge it can be to maintain intimacy with your spouse when baby comes home. Yet the truth is that no matter how tired and stressed we are, we need to work at our relationship with our spouse in order for it to be sustainable and meaningful. I want to share with you 10 simple yet powerful tools that you can use to strengthen your relationship with your spouse and have a happier marriage while raising great kids who will also have happier marriages thanks to what you are modeling for them.

Flexibility, Creativity and Focus are the Keys to a Happier Marriage

First, let me say that flexibility and creativity are the keys to a successful partnership, followed by FOCUS, we have to pay attention to the needs and desires of our own spirit as well as our partner. Don’t be overwhelmed by this list. Pick one or two things to try, don’t feel like you have to do them all at once! Also, know that you can be the change agent in the relationship. Making small changes in how you treat your spouse can have a big impact!

10 Tips for a Happier Marriage

Tip #1. Focus on listening. Listening means giving your partner the opportunity to speak without interruption, judgement, denial or anger. Simply hold the space, pay attention and be genuinely interested in what they are saying. You will get your turn to speak! Listening is a partnership. Enter into the listening with an attitude of love and willingness to hear what the other person needs to say.

Tip #2. Share your feelings with your partner. Speak out when you are hurt, upset, or angry. Don’t let small incidents build up. Ask for your partner’s attention, pick a time when the kids are asleep or you are alone together. Do not pick a fight, just ask for your partner to listen. Address the issue with a calm voice and describe your feelings. Do not blame or criticize, just describe how you are feeling.

Tip #3. Find time together. Be creative and be flexible. Even a 10 to 15 minute phone call while baby is napping and one of you is working can build connection. What worked for us was having regularly scheduled dates: one for talking about finances on Sunday mornings, one for going out once a month and leaving the kids with a babysitter, etc. Making time means writing it into the calendar. If you don’t it won’t happen!

Tip #4. Look for the good, overlook the bad. You married this person for many good reasons. Search for those things that make you smile; you may fall in love all over again. It might help to make a list, write it down and look at it often. Notice when they do something wonderful and comment on it. See tip #5.

Tip #5. Give two compliments every day. Now that you’ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, it’s time to say it! “Thanks for doing the dishes, that really helped.” “I love it when you hug me when you come home, it makes me feel so loved!”

Tip # 6. Play nice. How many times do you see — or experience — partners treating each other in impolite, harsh ways that they’d never even treat a friend? Sometimes we take our partners for granted and unintentionally display rudeness. Or to put this in the wise words of Bambi’s friend Thumper, the bunny rabbit — “If you can’t say somethin’ nice don’t say nothin’ at all.” My husband says thanks for dinner every night. I never get tired of hearing it!

Tip #7. Pick your battles. In any human relationship there will be disagreement and conflict. The key here is to decide which issues are worth pursuing and which are better off ignored. In my house, I do all the cooking, my hubbie does the dishes. He doesn’t do them when I want them done but I have learned to not complain, they get done. I don’t complain about the dirty clothes on the closet floor, after 17 years, somethings will never change.

Tip #8. The 60 second cuddle. Make the effort to touch your spouse more often. A pat, a hug, a kiss, a shoulder massage — the good feeling it produces for both of you far outweighs the effort. This is a hard one for me. I tend to be the one always on the move or focused on the task at hand. I have to pay attention and take 60 seconds to lean into a hug and a kiss. When I do, it makes him so much happier!

Tip #9. Make a commitment. You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into nurturing your marriage. The ideas that I mentioned above will help you follow through on this commitment and will put new life and meaning into your marriage.

Tip #10 Change your Attitude. The surprising secret is that this doesn’t have to take any extra time in your already busy schedule. Just a change in attitude plus a committed focus can yield a stronger, happier marriage. Try a smile instead of a frown. Remember to focus on the positive! A quick way to change your attitude is to express gratitude. It’s hard to stay angry or sad when you remember all the things you have to be grateful for.

Here’s my personal challenge to you: share these tips for a happier marriage with your spouse and apply some of them in your marriage for the next 30 days. Then re-evaluate your marriage. I guarantee you’ll both be happier.

If you are serious about improving your marriage and feel like you need more help than is offered here, Dr. Minette Riordan is a Certified Relationship Coach and co-author of a brand new book, From Fizzle to Sizzle: 4 Crucial Tools for Relationship Repair. You can find more information about the book here. Dr. Riordan offers a free 30-minute discovery session to see if coaching with her is right for you. Email her today if you need help restoring the sizzle to your fizzling marriage and don’t know where to being. Only serious inquiries please!