Being married takes work. It can be such a rewarding experience to find that person you want to spend the rest of your life with, but making it last takes effort — especially during the hectic holiday season. Kick your marriage into high gear this Christmas with our top three marriage tips for improving your relationship and being a better spouse.
To learn more, we turned to Dr. Steve Craig, clinical psychologist and author of the upcoming book The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have, for some advice on how to be a better spouse. What better time than the holidays to work on improving your relationship and boosting your bond? He advocates being a responsible spouse and a team player. “This means that you have to know yourself, your spouse and your relationship well,” Craig explains. He outlines the three things successful spouses make a priority in their relationship.
If you don’t know yourself, how can you expect your spouse to respond to your behavior? “Recognize your patterns, your stress points and your strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “Don’t try to do things beyond your abilities.” It’s when people try to do too much that they get overwhelmed, which can cause added stress that in turn hinders your relationship. “The holidays are difficult enough on a relationship without having a spouse who is in over his or her head.”
Know your spouse
It’s equally important to know your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses and to tailor your expectations to those abilities, Craig says. “The holidays are no time to start expecting your spouse to be something or someone he just isn’t ever going to be.” It’s also important to anticipate family drama and turmoil (like your ongoing feud with Aunt Linda) and talk in advance about how you want to handle it. “Remember it’s your job to stand by your spouse and support him in those situations in whatever way the two of you decide is best,” he explains.
Know your relationship
Every relationship is different and it’s a good idea to really get a handle on whatever ups and downs you might have. “Know the areas the two of you work well together, and where you don’t,” Craig says. For example, if sharing chores causes stress, then divide and conquer. Or if you work well together on things like chores and shopping then spend that time together. The better you know what works and what doesn’t, the easier it will be to avoid conflict — especially during the holidays.