The bookstores are littered with self-help books and relationship advice. It’s a billion dollar industry. Couples around the world seek answers to a problem that has existed since the beginning of time – the marriage.
We asked our married friends, our divorced friends, and looked online. There are a ton of ideas on what makes a relationship stay solid. Here are some of the best tips from our research and personal experience. PS. Keep it simple
1) Touch more. While this may sound simple, often couples may spend days or weeks without making physical contact. Make time each day to reach out and touch your partner. Hold hands, rub their arm, and give a shoulder squeeze – anything to maintain connection.
2) Both take responsibility for every argument. Many times, arguments turn into a power struggle with both sides trying to win. And when that happens, no one really wins. Even if your partner is totally crazy and wrong in that specific moment, ask yourself if perhaps there was something you did over the past few days or weeks that may have contributed to the problem. Maybe them lashing out at you today for something trivial was triggered by them feeling distant or slighted? And when you put that ownership on yourself, it quickly diffuses the problem.
3) Fighting is okay. Make it about solving the problem and not about the person. Building on the previous point, when you do argue, try and steer the conversation towards the problem in front of you and the shared goals you have. Again, try not to win your side. A common conflict resolution strategy is “me and you against the problem” rather than “me against you.”
4) Take care of YOU. Nothing is sexier than someone who is confident on their own and passionate about their own goals. While you want to share common interests, you still should strive to be great individually. Great individuals together make great relationships. Support each other and encourage your partner to do things they love
5) Recognize when you drift. It happens to everyone. After being together awhile, partners get caught up in day to day, doing their own stuff, and become distant. It’s normal. When you see signs of it happening, the easiest thing to do is say something as easy as, “I feel like we haven’t been as close as I would like lately. Let’s go do something.” This is much easier than being distant for months, not saying anything, and then feeling hurt.
6) Don’t just be roommates. Remember that being together doesn’t equate to actually spending time together. Doing household chores is not the same as going for coffee and talking about your day. Find time that is your own “sacred” time together, even if it is only for five minutes. And sitting down to watch TV after a long day doesn’t count. You need to be intentional.
7) Practice gratitude. Remember all the reasons you fell in love. And do it every day. Take a moment each day to just reflect on the awesomeness of the other person. Pick just one thing that makes you smile, or think about ten things – it doesn’t matter. The simple act of thinking about how grateful you are will keep you close.
8) Give full attention and sincere interest. One lesson that is really powerful about successful marriages is the focus you put on what the other person has to say. For example, if your wife is looking out over the patio and says, “Aren’t those trees beautiful?” Instead of simply nodding and saying, “yes” say, “They are. What is it you like about them?” Show that what they say actually matters to you and that will go a long way in making conversations meaningful.
9) Don’t keep secret emotional bank accounts. When the other person annoys you, are you keeping score? Maybe they didn’t do the dishes or left their clothes on the floor? Successful relationships are built on the premise of giving 100% to the other person without keeping score. “Newlyweds automatically know how to speak to the positive and make each other feel special and valued,” explains psychologist Harriet Lerner, author of ”Marriage Rules, A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up.” “But the more enduring the marriage, the more you’ll find yourself noticing and speaking to what you don’t like.” Further to that she says, “No one can survive in a marriage, at least not happily, if they feel more judged than admired.”
10) Successful couples complement each other. We all want others to pay attention to us – especially our partners. We buy new clothes and shoes, we get our haircut, or we work out. Also, we may work on our business, our goals, or our personal development. Be on the lookout for the things your partner does and make sure you notice it and tell them! Tell them how proud you are of the things they have been doing lately. Don’t focus so much on achievement either. Praise them for taking steps for themselves and tell them you are excited to see them happy.
These tips may seem like common sense, but are foundations for success in any marriage. For them to work, you have to actually put them into practice. Challenge yourself each week to do every one of these things and see what happens!
Now that we helped you with YOUR relationship, we want you to help us with ours…
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