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Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Marriage

Whether you're unsure about sticking it out or are madly in love, finding new ways to give your spouse a giddy rush of glee is no easy task. Making your spouse feel good is a key to marital happiness, since happy spouses are nicer, more cooperative, and much more likely to be nice in return. If you need a quick marital boost, try one of these easy solutions.

Encourage Your Spouse to Talk About Himself or Herself

A cardinal truth about life is that everyone loves talking about themselves. Get your spouse to open up by asking him or her specific questions, then intently listening to the answers. Don't be afraid to ask a follow-up question to poke around in your spouse's psyche a bit more. Sometimes all it takes to stoke desire and boost intimacy is feeling heard.

 Help Out Around the House

Need to stoke the fires of desire? Try a little choreplay. Especially for women, getting help from a partner can help quell anxiety and stoke passion. Don't just put away a few dishes, though. Do a thorough cleaning, and make sure the work you do is up to your spouse's standards – not your own.

Show Unconditional Love and Affection

Why get married if you can't count on being loved even when you're unlovable? Sometimes all a spouse needs to warm up to you yet again is a little TLC. Reach out and hug your spouse when he or she is stressed. Leave a nice note in her briefcase, or offer him a back massage. The key here is to do so without expecting anything in return, and to continue with your kindness even if you're met with attitude at first.

Do Your Spouse's Favorite Thing

Everyone has something they love. Whether it's scouring garage sales at the crack of dawn on Saturday, attending a local orchid show, or going for a drive in the country, deep down you know what your spouse loves doing (and if you don't, you should ask). Commit to doing your spouse's very favorite thing for an hour, a few hours, a day, or even a weekend. Bonus points if you plan the entire event yourself.

Surprise Your Spouse

Surprises are inherently sexy because they get your heart racing. If you're desperate to get your spouse's attention and eager to reignite the passion of desire, a surprise may be the very best thing you do for your marriage. Just make sure you surprise your spouse with something they love – not, say, a complicated meal that he or she has to clean up when it's over! A bouquet of flowers, a surprise date, even promising to plan a trip together can all work wonders, not to mention get you out of the dog house.

You and you alone have the power to save your marriage. Don't wait for your spouse to step in and do something, and don't hope things will magically get better. Do something today so you can have a happier tomorrow. 

How To Date Your Spouse

how-to-date-your-spouse

If you're like most people involved in long-term relationships, you probably long for the romantic spark you once felt. Maybe you're not sure why the spark is gone. Or perhaps, like many people, you blame your spouse. The truth, though, is that your life was much different when you first met your spouse. And like most newly-dating couples, you probably did much to impress one another. With the changes of time, the challenges of a shared life, and the inevitable frustrations of living together, romantic love can steadily shrivel until there's nothing left. By dating your spouse as you did once upon a time, you can relive the early days of your relationship and get back that spark you thought was long since gone.

Romance Your Spouse

When was the last time you took flowers to your spouse? If you can't remember, you've got a serious problem on your hands. To have romance, you have to offer it, whether you're a man or a woman. Commit to three months of romance, and you may be surprised to see how happy you end up feeling in your relationship. Some things to try:

  • Dress in a way you know your spouse loves. And listen to your spouse's beauty and fashion advice (so long as the tips aren't mean-spirited or unreasonable, such as demands to lose weight). Is your wife begging you to get your hair cut? Do it. Hubby ready to see your hair long again? Put down the scissors.
     
  • Do something nice for your spouse every single day. No exceptions and no excuses.
     
  • Commit to a weekly date night, and put it on your calendar; we take our commitments more seriously when they're written down, and research suggest that date nights really do work.
     
  • Give your spouse small gifts, such as flowers or candy, once per week. Strapped for cash? Try picking flowers outside, giving your spouse a back rub, or even writing a weekly love letter.  

Get to Know One Another (Again)

In the early days of your relationship, you probably talked about everything imaginable – values, goals, sexual desires, plans for the future. As you've gotten to know one another, though, you've probably begun taking basic facts about your spouse for granted. Knowledge about one another is the cornerstone of intimacy. Want to get to know one another all over, reliving the mystique of those first intimate conversations? Try working your way down this list of questions.  

Do Something Adventurous

In the early days of your relationship, that “spark” you felt was actually a pang of anxiety. As your certainty about your relationship has grown, though, the spark has likely waned. Studies suggest you can get it back by experiencing the anxiety of adventure together. Capitalize on the gorgeous year-round climate in South Florida and go water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or hiking. When you face – and surmount – unfamiliar challenges together, the challenges of marriage suddenly seem less daunting – and perhaps even a little fun. 

The Benefits of Marriage Counseling: What to Expect from Relationship Counseling

It's easy to conceive of marriage counseling as something only couples on the verge of divorce do. And if you are one of those couples on the verge of divorce, you might be even more opposed to marriage counseling, believing that it can't possibly fix your problems. But marriage counseling is incredibly effective. In fact, one recent study by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists found that 98% of participants were pleased with the results of marriage counseling. The right counselor can pull your marriage back from the brink, helping you recover the love you might think you've lost forever.

 

How Marriage Counseling Helps

Think back to the day you got married. Either the problems you have now didn't exist then, or seemed trivial. Either way, this suggests that these problems can be solved – or that, if the problems aren't solvable, they can at least be managed. For example, spouses with different spending styles can set rules and limits or create separate bank accounts. So how exactly dos counseling help you get back on track? That depends on what you're facing, but generally, a good therapist will:

  • Help you clearly define the problems that you're facing.
  • Work to help each of you see the role you're playing in those problems.
  • Help you discern the difference between problems that can be solved (such as a spouse's gambling addiction) and problems that must be managed instead (such as a child with a developmental disability).
  • Work to help you improve communication skills.
  • Give you the tools you need to improve one another's well-being and self-esteem.
  • Give you “assignments” designed to help you improve your marriage.

What Happens in Marriage Counseling?

The structure and feel of marriage counseling is primarily dependent on the counselor you choose. The single biggest predictor of success, though, is a strong and trusting relationship, so be sure you feel comfortable with your therapist – even if he or she pushes you a bit. In general, you can expect that most of your sessions will be joint sessions, though you may have a few individual sessions. You'll also get plenty of homework and suggestions for what to do outside the walls of therapy; fail to follow these suggestions, and you'll miss out on some of the most significant therapy benefits.

Choosing a Counselor

As with everything in life, there are good, bad, and great therapists. To get the most out of therapy, be sure to:

  • Check the status of your therapist's license; unlicensed therapists should not be practicing
  • Ask how long therapy will take and how you'll know you're succeeding.
  • Ask about your therapist's philosophy regarding therapy; for instance, if you're an atheist and your therapist intends to incorporate Christian themes, it may not be the best fit for you and your spouse.
     

Explore whether going to therapy on your own is an option; many couples report that, even when one spouse is unwilling to attend therapy, marriage counseling with just one partner can.