Three useful tools you can add to your personal marriage toolbox.
Most of us realize that marriage is hard. The good news is that most people are willing to put effort into things that mean a lot to them, like tending to a beloved garden or other pastime.
There are many useful marriage tools you can add to your personal toolbox for use when needed. Let's talk about a few of them.
1) Allow your spouse space if requested. People are different in their needs for closeness vs alone time. It's important to validate that need if one or both of you has it. Some just simply tend towards more introversion where they need some private time to recharge - vs the extrovert who recharges around others.
If the space request comes out of an argument, allow this as well. However, this doesn't mean that the issue of discussion is forever swept under the rug but simply put on hold while emotional reactivity is managed - a protective factor in the relationship considering the amount of damage that can occur due to unbridled anger (criticism, name-calling, etc).
2) Tell your partner about something they recently did well in the marriage. It's too easy to tell each other what you do wrong - what about what you do right? Couples often can get in a habit of focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive which can feel like being constantly nagged at. Reinforce your partner's good behavior to get more of it. What did they do well and how did it make you feel?
3) Interrupt the schedule and shake things up. When things get hectic, particularly with careers, kids, pets, friends and other obligations, a routine often gets established. While structure can be useful at times, it comes with the risk of a loss of spontaneity.
Plan a surprise, a date or an outdoor adventure while the weather is good. Cover all the bases with childcare, etc and go have some fun! Your partner will feel cared for that you took the time to plan this - and know that the marriage is important to you.
Lisa Brookes Kift is a therapist, writer and author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples. She is also the creator of The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com, with tools for marriage, relationship and emotional health.