“I NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPEN TO ME!”
And there lies the problem… you weren’t thinking! No-one does!
When you got married, I know you weren’t thinking about what you needed to do to keep your marriage strong. Your connection came naturally and you enjoyed your time together. You looked forward to the weekends and to sharing yourselves with each other. You enjoyed making love – often!
Then what happened? Life, right? External demands took a front seat. You had to pay the bills, so you worked more. Maybe you had a family and you had to take care of the kids. Your marriage either became a convenience or a burden with all the responsibilities. Staying connected never made it to the top ten.
When you realized life was short, you looked at everything you didn’t have and all that was falling away. In a long-term marriage you’re getting older and feeling it. You want something new and exciting, but don’t know how to create that with your spouse and maybe you go outside the marriage. Maybe you got stuck in a rut and took your relationship for granted. Arguments ensued and you just wanted to spend more time at work. At least there you could have a decent conversation – free of blame and control. You stopped talking to each other and started talking to someone else – someone who understood you.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE
It’s easier to keep your marriage if you take continue actions from the beginning, but you can rekindle your relationship – but only if both of you are committed and willing to change the patterns you have fallen into.
#1 Get Connected – Stay Connected!
This is much easier to do in the beginning of a relationship when you don’t have the responsibility of a house and kids, but it is on the top of the list of actions you can commit to. Later on in a marriage it can prove difficult to remain connected, but if you don’t then you will drift away and lose interest in each other.
It may be easier to remain connected if you don’t have kids, because they take so much of your time and energy. You must have date nights. You must get a sitter and make your relationship a priority. And you can enroll your kids in your date nights. Tell them this is how you divorce-proof your marriage and they’ll get it! I know kids who remind their parents that it’s been too long since they went on a vacation alone together. Kids are willing to sacrifice their time with you if they know they are contributing to the family staying together.
Try new things and don’t talk about the kids when you’re on your date! Pretend you’re with a new lover and always bring a new and fresh part of yourself to the date. There are lots of things you can do on your date:
- Try new restaurants and new foods
- Take a class or workshop together
- Push your limits – Share your fantasies with each other (maybe act one out)
#2 Commit to Your Growth
One of the best ways to keep your relationship fresh is to develop yourself as a person. A three-prong approach could be useful – self, us, and, other. You should be growing yourself as a person, for example each year identify qualities you would like to cultivate and then take action on them. Evaluate your relationship on a regular basis. Not to find what is wrong with it, but to find what is right with it. Do more of what is right with your relationships.
#3 Get Really Good at Communication
Poor communication is the culprit for many relationship breakdowns. Creating a safe environment to share how you’re really feeling and what you want is not always easy. Consider taking a Non-Violent Communication class and learn specific techniques that really work.
One of the biggest communication problems I see people have is that they making up meanings. Instead of asking or checking out their assumptions, spouses will pretend they know what the other person is thinking or feeling. It’s not a very effective communication strategy and often leads to further separation. If you need help communicating to your partner, then get some support. You might need to set boundaries or ask for something different in your relationship. Try it!