If you've been feeling frustrated that your relationship is in trouble, don't panic! Getting professional help from a counseling program or therapist may be important eventually, and it's an option you should keep in mind. First though, it's important to try to recharge your battery together. Here are seven surprisingly effective quick fixes for your marriage.
1. Soup up the sex.
There's always room for improvement in your sex lives! You can start by setting aside more intimate time. Then, figure out how to make the sex you have even better. For example, add music. Spend more time being affectionate before you hit the bed. Move more and use those pelvic muscles. Even take a look at some how-to sex books. The reality is that sexual connection is the key reset button for elevating the tone of a relationship, in both men and women.
2. Switch your focus.
Because eyes look outward, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what your partner does that bugs you. Better, though, to stop trying to change your partner. Re-focus your eyes on insight. Figure out what you can do differently. How would your changes lighten up both of your lives?
3. Do the math.
Focus just on how to add more affection and appreciation into your relationship. Subtract out negatives like criticism, disagreement, blame and complaints.
4. Look ahead.
Focusing on the past risks feeding old resentments and disappointments. Instead, figure out what a great relationship would look like and start acting that way — today. Placing your energy on future goals as a couple will help you create a game plan for getting there.
5. Mind your three-letter words.
Eliminate the word "but" when speaking to your partner. Each time you respond with "but..." you are erasing what you just heard, making your partner feel erased, too. Eliminate "not" too: I'm not pleased, I don't want to, etc… Instead, use lots of "Yes!"
6. Stay in the calm zone.
Anger is very off-putting. Sadness is healthy to share, and anxiety too. Anger, by contrast, drives your partner away. If your partner initiates an angry interaction, you'll be at risk for catching fire, so exit ASAP. Stand up, saying something like, "Excuse me, I need to get a drink of water," and use your legs to get out of range. When you return, initiate affection and change the topic.
7. Have more fun.
Fun doesn't have to cost money. Turn on music while you do dishes together. Go outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Or do just about anything that's different. New, with a positive attitude, is invigorating.
At some point, you also will want to dig deeper to fix the broken pieces in your relationship, especially if they are tough ones like addictions, excessive anger, infidelity, financial problems or communication problems. But it's helpful to first use the tips above to fix your relationship connection.
Why start this way? The key is to understand what a relationship is — and what makes two people feel connected. Mostly, the vibes you radiate toward each other each when you interact with each other is what makes you feel like "we have a great relationship" or "our relationship needs fixing." Use these seven tips to strengthen the positives in your partnership. Then learn how to talk together about the tough topics and find win-win solutions to them with plans of action. You'll soon be solidly back on the road to happily ever after.
Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of The Power of Two book and workbook invites you to check out PowerOfTwoMarriage.com. For a free relationship quiz plus three days of free relationship help, visit her website and scroll down to the bottom of the page.