All marriages experience a rocky period at one point or another — but there are ways to get through them and keep your marriage happy. My first marriage was horrible — my ex was abusive and cruel. When I met my current husband, I didn’t think a marriage could be so good. Sure we’ve hit a rough patch or two, but after speaking to experts, I’ve become an expert on keeping our marriage the best it can be. So, now I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you.
Love brought you together and keeping the marriage happy is the key. I spoke with Arielle Ford, author of Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmate, and her suggestions really rang true for me.
- Ask for what you need. One request at a time will make life easier for both of you. Especially for men — they prefer to do one thing at a time. I don’t know about you, but my husband can’t handle more than one request, and he’s also not a mind reader. If I’m vague, he will only do as I ask. He can’t read between the lines at all. If I want or need something, I give him all the details.
- Create your personal love intention statement. If you write it down, you are 10 times more likely to accomplish it (i.e., “I will have more love in my life this year”). I’m always giving my hubby notes on how much I love him or what I want our marriage to be in five years. In turn, I keep a glass jar with snippets in it on how I’m going to make our love lives richer and fuller.
- Reinvigorate the story of your meeting by recounting the earlier days of your romance. For instance, remember how you felt when he first kissed you? What attracted you to him physically? Any feelings you first had that he was “the one”? My husband did a video for my 40th birthday on our first date. We basically reenacted the entire date. The photographer did an interview of us about how we met, our attraction to one another and when we knew they were “the one.” Mine was the day he came back from getting breakfast with a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. He doesn’t drink coffee, but he remembered how I like mine and knew I was dying for it. I knew, without a doubt, he was a keeper.
- Add in spice and adventure by doing new, exciting activities, like bungee jumping or roller coasters — even watching a scary movie will spur adrenaline that will bond your relationship closer together. On our first date, we saw Gothika with Halle Berry. It was scary to him, but I saw most of it coming. I enjoyed him holding me though.
- Wear rose-colored glasses by focusing on what is right rather than what is wrong. Steer away from being critical and judgmental. It took me years to learn this because I’m a cynic and very judgmental. This came from leaving an abusive marriage. My second husband always saw the world through rose-colored glasses — and I thought he was crazy. But, now, I’m following in his optimistic footsteps.
- Create a shared vision statement. Draft a simple, but inclusive, statement that both spouses agree to strive for in the relationship.
- Practice daily gratitude. In another jar, I have pieces of paper that list what I’m grateful for. Each day, I put in something new.
- Open yourself up to vulnerability, which builds trust and intimacy. Battle fear of rejection by starting with something small, like your opinion about a movie you just watched together or something in the news.
- Practice forgiveness of yourself and your partner. It reduces your levels of depression, anxiety and anger, while also bettering relationships. This will make you happier and more optimistic. This one was tough for me at first. I could stay angry for three days and still not apologize. I learned I was suffering from postpartum and once I got help, I was able to let things go.