By Katie Parsons, Contributor for GalTime.com
Married couples know the "for better or for worse" vow well, but what about the often boring in between times? Waiting for tense or lackluster phases of a marriage to just pass is one tactic but can lead to permanent indifference or unhappiness. Couples can also choose to take the reins and recharge their marriages with some work.
Here are some actionable ways to make it happen:
1. Make a date list. Setting a time for frequent nights out is important but for an additional level of anticipation and excitement, licensed family and marriage therapist Amey Davis suggests an intervention called "30 Things." The couple writes down 30 date ideas and then puts them in a jar. One week before the date day, an idea is drawn and the planning starts. The idea is to bring back some of the forethought and excitement from the dating days.
2. Revisit the early days. Davis says that marriages that feel stale could use a brisk walk down memory lane. "Whatever each person was doing to keep the relationship alive and exciting BEFORE the marriage -- keep doing it," she says. Often, people are influenced by societal standards of the roles of husband and wife, instead of keeping their individual attraction to each other at the forefront. Davis says this is why it is vital for married couples to cherish the specific reasons they first found each other, and fell in love.
3. Unplug. Technology can be used for good in relationships, especially when couples implement sexting or other flirtatious behaviors, but sometimes it can be energizing in a marriage to put the electronics aside. "Spend 10 minutes a day just talking to each other. No phones, computers, kids, or television," says licensed mental health counselor Lisa Beilman. "Try not to discuss 'business' topics -- just talk about each other. Use this time as a check in with your partner."
4. Set common goals. Chasing individual goals is a healthy part of a marriage but can also pull couples apart in some respects. Davis recommends picking a common goal to accomplish as a team to increase bonding and keep each other happy. These goals can be anything, from improving health to saving up for and planning a fantasy vacation.
5. Keep learning. The old cliché that marriages have "ups and downs" is true -- especially since the two people involved are always changing. Beilman suggests that couples always look for new things to learn about their partner and even more reasons to love the other. "I tell my premarital clients to never stop being curious about the other person," she said. "Don't assume you know their every move, thought and feeling. Relationships evolve and change, so stay interested."