Are you at a turning point in your marriage? Are you ready to call it quits because continuing to work on it seems like too much work for too little reward?
As a licensed professional counselor, I often meet couples who come to counseling because they feel like they have reached a point where working on the relationship seems overwhelming. Each person in the relationship will express to me that they feel unheard or misunderstood. Oftentimes, these feelings have led to poor choices and traumatic events such as infidelity or substance abuse.
After hearing the history of a couples relationship, I often recommend they implement three strategies. These strategies are small behavioral changes which they often have been neglecting in their marriage that can lead to deeper connection and positive regard with your partner.
You may feel like you do some of these things already. My follow-up question to that statement is always, “Are you doing them with intention?” When we do things with intention we don’t tend to miss it or skip it or go months without implementing it. When we don’t do things without intention, we look up and it’s been a year since our last date night.
Read over the list of 3 things you might be neglecting in your marriage/relationship. Consider the strategies offered for being intentional about improving your marriage. Reflect on your relationship/marriage and decide what you can start today.
Have you stopped spending time together in a manner that is intentional and enjoyable? Due to the pandemic, I often hear people say, “We are always together. We work from home.” However, spending time in separate rooms on laptops is not quality time. Sometimes, we can go all day and never even look the people we live with in the eye.
Quality time means giving someone your undivided attention or doing something you both enjoy together. It can also be just checking in for 15 minutes at the end of the day after the kids are put to bed, the kitchen is cleaned, and the phones are on their chargers.
Many people in relationships listen to respond to each other rather than listening to understand each other. We are quick to want to explain our side of the story when we hear something we don’t like or which evokes negative emotions. We are so in our own minds we don’t really hear what the other person is saying or understand their reasoning for thinking a certain way.
For example, one time my daughter was sick and the school called my husband and informed him while he was working from home. Moments later, I received a call from the school. They informed me that they called my husband but he hung up the phone at the end of the call and they weren’t sure if he was coming to get our sick kid.
When I spoke with my husband later I was really frustrated. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t just go get our sick child. He explained that the school nurse called him while he was in the middle of completing a task at work. She informed him our daughter was sick and then didn’t say anything else. He assumed they would tell him if they wanted him to come get her so he said ‘Okay’ and hung up.
He thought it was an information call. As I listened to his reasoning, I realized he had been distracted by work. I also understood that, after spending years with me being a stay at home mom, he had no idea that when the school called you it meant come get your kid. I had to release my frustration and find the humor in that situation.
Affection can mean many things. Affection can be physical (a kiss or hug) and it can also be a kind word or compliment. John Gottman, Ph.D reports that couples who reported happy marriages maintained a ratio of 20:1 positive to negative interactions. That is 20 compliments for every negative statement.
Stating appreciation for one another is key in a relationship. When you are living with someone it is easy to focus on everything you don’t see them doing. When you take time to compliment your spouse it forces you to focus on what they are doing well. I encourage couples to even compliment their spouses on things that are expected (“Thank you for putting the kids to bed. “Thank you for washing the dishes.”). Just because it is expected or part of the routine, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognize the effort.
If you have any questions or concerns about developing deeper connections or improving communication in your marriage, I encourage you to seek the help of a professional counselor/therapist.
Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years experience helping adults and children with overcoming trauma, managing life transitions, and developing coping skills. She is specialized in working with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, and developing effective parenting skills with women and children with trauma concerns, anxiety and depression. Nicole provides a caring, non-judgmental mental health service for children (5-12), adolescents (13-18), and adults (18+) where she draws techniques from a variety of therapy models depending on the client’s needs. Nicole most often uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Client Centered treatment the most. She is founder of Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC where she sees clients.
Medical Disclaimer: All content found on the HER Health Collective Website was created for informational purposes only and are the opinions of the HER Health Collective experts and professional contributors. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.