5 Ways To Change Your Marriage Instantly (At Least A Little)

For these to work, you have to really, really be committed to change.

Change your marriage in a snap Elina Fairytale, fotostorm, Hakan Kiziltan | Canva

I know, I know, you're sick of hearing about empathy and validation and better communication and working to rekindle your sex life, and you're thinking I NEED RESULTS NOW, not this slow-moving stuff.

Fine, I say, amiable as ever, while secretly being offended. I will give you what you want, because I am Dr. Psych Mom.

Now, to use these tools, you have to be a super ninja of marriage. You have to really, really be committed to change. You have to get rid of your defenses, and your history of resentment and bitterness, and you have to be as motivated as you are when, say, sleep-training your kid.


Or coming up with excuses why you don’t want your mother-in-law to help you design your baby’s nursery. Whatever analogy resonates with you. So, let’s move on to the actual list.

Here are 5 ways to change your marriage instantly — at least a little:

1. Forgive your spouse truly for the worst thing he/she has ever done

This lapse on your spouse’s part would be called an empathic failure: a time when your spouse completely did not understand or care how important something was to you and acted horribly, in your estimation.


Many of these, I have seen in my practice, are around what a husband did when a wife was in labor or had a newborn baby (e.g., being absent emotionally or physically during a difficult time surrounding the birth or in the weeks after). For men, often it is a blatant sexual or other rejection that left them feeling humiliated or as though their wife thought of them as an object of contempt or disgust.

You can do this forgiveness within your own head, but bonus points if you share it with your spouse. You must truly get inside your spouse’s head in order to do this (there I go with the empathy again, sorry). It has to be genuine and true.

For example, you could think, "As a guy in his late 20s, with no friends who have had babies yet, I can see how my husband may have truly thought that going to a bachelor party in my 9th month of pregnancy was an okay decision. His friends probably had no idea about relationships and made him feel stupid for considering not going. He did not mean to miss the birth, and the reason he probably acted defensive about it was how ashamed he felt." 

You’ll be going deep into your reserves of empathy here. But we are talking radical change and you don’t get an omelet without breaking some eggs.


RELATED: Why Forgiveness Is One Of The Most Powerful Things In This World

2. Get your spouse a really, really good present

The point of this present is not that it is expensive. The entire point is it must be something outside your own comfort zone. So the only way an expensive present would be ideal is if you’re generally a huge cheapskate and this is the bane of your spouse’s existence.

Here are some good ones: a gift certificate for bungee jumping if you’re an anxious wife who always tries to limit your husband’s risk-taking tendencies; a weekend away with friends for your wife if you’re a husband who, to be honest, usually does not do much in the way of taking care of the kids; a poem if you’re a guy who is not very verbally expressive which you know leaves your very verbal wife feeling lonely.

No, this present idea will not on its own change your marriage, but it is a meaningful gesture that shows that you hear and understand your spouse and want to work on changing your own worldview in a way that would be significant for them in the long term.


RELATED: 10 Ways To Enhance Your Marriage Without Even Interacting With Your Husband

3. Change your focus from the kids to your spouse

Sit down and seriously calculate how much time you spend focusing on each, and then flip-flop them. If this means canceling some dance classes or soccer, then so be it. It is a lot more important to have your kid see a happy marriage than to go to soccer, and you know this in your heart. Get some babysitters in the mix, join a gym daycare, whatever you have to do.

If usually, you spend from 4-8 attending to your kids’ every need and from 8-10 with your husband, flip it to spending from 6-10 with your husband (the kids can be around also but your focus is not solely on them) and from 4-6 focusing only on kids. Try it for a week. You can always switch back, but this experiment may make you realize you need your priorities to shift.

4. If you are the spouse with a lower sex drive (usually but not always the woman), plan to completely shock your spouse in bed

This means you must channel your inner person-you-were-on-Spring-Break-1997 or whenever you were your most completely uninhibited. I do not mean you deign to have intercourse with your husband in the dark without as much complaint as usual. I mean you seriously do some reading up and introspecting and have the sort of sex you would have if the fate of the free world depended on your ability to have earth-shattering sex.


If you need to send the kids away overnight and/or have a couple of drinks, have at it. Again, you are showing your spouse that you are open to shifting your very paradigm about something important to them. And you are doing it like a rock star.

RELATED: The 50 Best Marriage Tips Of All Time, From 50 Marriage Experts

5. Every single day, write down and email or text your spouse something you appreciate that they do

No sarcasm if you’re fighting at the time. This is a non-negotiable. It will likely lead to a very different sort of interaction during the day. Everyone thrives on being recognized for what they give to the relationship, and this may change your dynamic from crap to neutral, or neutral to good. 

If you want bonus points (in your own mind — the point isn’t for your spouse to tell you how awesome you’re being), show the emails or texts to your kids. Won’t that be an awesome lesson about how to act in a loving marriage?


Well, I challenge you to try at least one of these starting today.

Can you do it? Of course, you can, because you’re totally committed to your relationship and you own your part in whatever problems you may be having. Stop squirming.

RELATED: The 4 C's That Will Dramatically Improve Your Marriage

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.