- Argue – This might come across as being counterproductive, but arguing can actually be an indicator of a positive relationship. If anything, it demonstrates that you still care about your partner. It is when partners show indifference towards each other, either through silence or through withdrawal, that the relationship may be in trouble. Instead of giving up and walking away from an argument, become curious and use it to learn more about each other’s feelings. Your relationship can grow through arguing.
- Apologize – Few of us are perfect, including you and your spouse. That’s why you should apologize to them when you make a mistake. Humbling yourself enough to recognize when you are wrong and genuinely apologizing for your mistakes will not only demonstrate that you care for your partner, but will also work as a starting point for heading off similar mistakes in the future.
- Don’t Forget Your Manners – Listen to your partner. Be present while you are engaging with your partner. Say please and thank you and I appreciate you. Many couples start off being polite to one another, but as time goes on it gets easier to become focused on what your partner does wrong. You may forget to say thank you for what they do right. If you ever feel yourself dwelling on the negative aspects of your partner, take the time each day to think about qualities that you admire about them and why you are committed to your relationship with them.
- Let Your Spouse Grow – As people get older, they continue to grow in their thoughts and beliefs. In many cases, a spouse can find him or herself caught off guard, even threatened by the partner’s development. When a person settles into a relationship, predictability and comfort grow. While this is good for the most part, we must realize that all living things change. And a relationhip is a living, active, evolving thing that too will change over time. Recognize and celebrate it. Don’t resist it.
- Take The Time To Check In – Remember that every once in a while it is important to take a step back and think about the aspects of your relationship that you like or dislike. Communicate your findings to your spouse and ask the same from him or her. Holding each other accountable for communicating what works and what doesn’t can build an even stronger foundation, one that endures and strengthens through honest, respectful communication.
Dr. Cindy Nelson is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University and has been a practicing family and marriage therapist since 2001. She specializes in: grief counseling, relationship issues, trauma recovery, depression, help with transitions and major life changes.