Whether your marriage is in trouble or you're just dealing with the normal ups and downs of coupled life, it's easy to see what your partner is doing wrong. It takes two to create a problem, though, so looking at your own role in your marriage is key to getting back on track. You're the only component of your marriage you can control, and when your behavior changes, your spouse's actions may change for the better, too.
Make Time for Physical Affection
Research has repeatedly shown that the simple act of kissing your partner every day can work wonders for a marriage. It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind, but physical affection outside of the bedroom can help solidify your connection. Kiss your partner every day, and reach out to touch him or her as much as possible. Offer massages and hugs, and maybe a gentle rear pat as your partner walks by.
Apologize – and Mean It
After years of marriage, it's easy to hang on to resentment as if it's some sort of investment that will eventually pay out a massive yield. But hanging on to resentment only makes you both feel miserable. Apologizing doesn't mean giving up your power. Instead, apologizing when you're wrong is the first step toward rebalancing your relationship. Don't shy away from apologizing. Doing so not only makes your spouse feel more valued, but can help encourage him or her to take responsibility when you're the victim and they're in the wrong.
Change Your Perspective
Years of conflict can make you totally intractable, but stubbornly clinging to your own viewpoint is the very worst way to improve your marriage. Instead, commit to taking your partner's perspective at least once a week. Sit down and actually contemplate what your partner's day is like, how your behavior appears to him or her, what stresses he or she is facing, and where your relationship is lacking from your partner's perspective. Doing so can make your partner more sympathetic while encouraging you to make healthy changes.
Do Something Nice
Sometimes years of marriage make it easy to forget the most obvious advice of all: do something nice for your partner. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, but a small act of love each day can steadily move you back toward happiness. Try sticking a sweet note in your wife's purse, straightening your hubby's tie, or offering a quick back massage. Kindness tends to breed more kindness, so don't be surprised if your acts of love encourage your spouse to begin taking positive steps of his or her own.
Ask Your Partner Meaningful Questions
Some relationship experts believe that simply asking the right questions can lead to lasting love. By asking your partner to share more about himself or herself, you show your love and concern. And when you listen, your partner will feel more valued. Feel free to ask anything that's not accusatory, but this list of 36 questions for lasting love is a great start.