We've talked to experts and consulted research to determine the changes you can make for a happier, healthier marriage or relationship.
- Asking your partner for input is a great way to open a dialogue about what they want or need from you.
- It's important to take small steps to improve your relationship every day, like putting down your cell phones to cook dinner together. All this can be a big change.
- Getting enough sleep, being friends with other couples, and expressing verbal and physical affection can also lead to a stronger connection between you and your spouse.
No marriage is a bed of roses.
However, that doesn't mean you can't make an effort to make positive changes in your relationship.
From cooking dinner together every night to weekly conversations, these are some of the things that can improve your relationship. These 20 practices can help you live better with your partner and form a happier and healthier bond.
Start by emphasizing what is going well in your relationship, instead of dwelling on what is bad.
Our bodies and brains are hardwired to help us survive. A lot of what it takes to have a long-lasting, happy relationship is above our human instincts. One of the strongest is scanning the environment to see what's wrong, what's broken, and what's dangerous, so you can avoid it and fix it." In a relationship, doing that is not healthy.
If you're constantly thinking about what's wrong with your partner, you'll feel less connected and disliked."
To combat this, write down at least three things a day about what's going well in your relationship and highlight why you're in love.
Physically connect. It's as simple as giving a 30-second hug.
"A 30-second hug or a 6-second kiss gets the bonding hormone oxytocin flowing. Not only does this help you feel closer to your partner, it pushes cortisol, the stress hormone, outside of your system,"
Hold a weekly "State of the Union" meeting to find out what your partner thinks and what you can improve on.
As much as you may seek advice from professionals, it's also important to communicate with your partner about what you're doing to improve your relationship.
People often only get feedback from their partners in the middle of heated arguments or when things are going exceptionally well.
Couples should plan a talk during a neutral time where both of you are prepared to talk calmly about what is and isn't working in your relationship.
One of the Expert Said "I always have couples that start with appreciations, sharing some things that they like and value about their partner, moments of the week where they felt really connected, what went well, and then we go into the moments where haven't connected or been frustrated,"
Do not think about ending the relationship at first. Several studies show that after 20 years of marriage, the relationship begins to improve on its own.
According to a study by sociologists Paul R. Amato and Spencer L. James, while marriages tend to see a decline in happiness after going through the "honeymoon phase," couples who stick it out tend to see a resurgence of happiness. their marital happiness around their 20th anniversary.
After being married for 20 years, the couples analyzed in the study saw an increase in shared activities such as recreational activities, dinners or trips together.
"Contrary to what many people think, marital quality does not inevitably decline, it tends to stay high or even improve over the decades," Amato told the Institute for Family Studies. "This knowledge should encourage most couples to look to the future with some degree of optimism."
Not surprisingly, couples who don't get enough sleep are more likely to argue and experience unhappiness in their relationship.
According to a study conducted by researchers at several universities, including The Ohio State University School of Medicine and the University of Delaware, "when both partners got less sleep, couples interacted more hostilely than when at least one of them sleeps more".
Establish "connection rituals" to improve the relationship.
Set up "connection rituals" to enhance the relationship." For some couples, these might be things like having coffee or breakfast together every morning before work and discussing your schedule for the day. It's about finding a common ground. that allows you to reconnect with your partner at the end of the day,
Other examples of connection rituals could be having dinner together every night, having a weekly "date night," or snuggling up for 10 minutes every night before bed.
These are all things that people can do with their partner every day or a few days a week.
Couples can also establish some house rules to improve their relationship. These rules can be as big or as small as you like, but they lay the groundwork for a good relationship.
"Putting your cell phone down while you cook and eat dinner together is a good habit. The end of the day is a good time to talk about how we got through the day," advises Kristen Scarlett, licensed mental health counsellor and co-founder of Octave, a therapy centre in New York City.
Reform the house, especially your bedroom.
A recent Porch survey indicates that couples who renovate their homes have an increase in marital satisfaction, particularly if they choose to renovate their bedroom.
Of those surveyed, 50% of women and 54% of men who engaged in this practice reported increased happiness in their relationships.
Just under half of the women surveyed said they were happier after making changes to the garden, while 53% of men said their relationship had improved after changing their kitchens.
Take note of how you use social media and if it is affecting your relationship.
With the rise of social media, it's easier than ever to be unfaithful or provoke arguments with your partner about what you post online. According to the New York Post, more than 30% of divorce filings contain the word 'Facebook,' and many people use the networks inappropriately.
Although it may not be necessary to completely eliminate social media to improve your relationship, it would be a good idea to think twice before posting anything.
Be friends with other couples.
Multiple studies have concluded that couples who have "couple friends" may be happier in their relationships.
In research for the book Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships, authors Geoffrey Greif and Kathleen Deal found that those who dated other couples often were more reflective of their own relationships and were able to analyze both positive and negative interactions. negative.
According to the study, seeing one's partner having fun with another partner can also make that person seem more attractive.
Have fun together.
A study published in the Sage Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that while there was no strong evidence that this practice increased happiness, there was a strong difference between couples who engaged in "pleasant" activities and those who engaged in "exciting" activities.
Those who participated in exciting activities together, such as playing sports or trying new things, were found to be happier than those who simply did things like have dinner together or watch a movie.
With kids, work and mortgages, life and marriage can get repetitive and routine. It may seem irresponsible to spend money on fancy dinners or weekend getaways, but think about the big picture. Nurturing and stirring a relationship to improve a marriage is just as, and sometimes more, important than those daily chores. Work at it.
Take time to talk about funny things and laugh.
According to a 2006 study titled The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction, couples who remembered funny events they had experienced together were happier.
Talking about a funny memory from your wedding or something funny that happened with your kids can be a good topic of conversation to laugh together and still stay on the same page.
When giving your opinion, try to avoid feeling guilty.
"Instead of saying, 'You make me feel like you're not attracted to me,' say 'I'd love for you to tell me if you feel I'm physically okay.' Your opinion means a lot to me and that would make me feel great," Scarlett advises.
Avoid toxic behaviours when you argue.
Avoid bringing out the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" which, according to Schewitz, are criticism, defence, evasion and contempt. You can make a big difference in the way you relate to your partner in both good and bad times, and it will affect the way that person sees you.
Take a breather when an argument gets too heated.
When tensions arise, whether it's yelling or slamming doors, take a breath. Before you say something you don't mean and can't take back, come up with a 'safe word' that indicates you're going to take a break from the discussion.
During this time, each of you can do breathing exercises or go for a walk to calm your emotions, and then think about what you would like to say and how you would like to say it. Afterwards, meet again and try to discuss the matter calmly.
Show appreciation for your partner.
Showing your partner how much you care helps improve your marriage. Dr John Gottman and Dr Robert Levenson, who have been researching relationships since the 1970s, discovered that not only physical but also verbal affection can have a number of positive effects on marriages.
Help reduce stress hormones and create a closer bond that allows couples to resolve issues more effectively.
The Gottman Institute states that couples should aim for a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative reactions, meaning that for every negative interaction a couple has, they should try to counter it with at least five positive interactions.
During an argument, empathize and apologize.
The Gottman Institute already provides strategies to deal with negative interactions, disagreements, and arguments, in a marriage. Dr. Gottman recommends that couples practice empathy and apology during disagreements.
By using phrases like, "It makes sense to me that you feel..." couples will be able to connect more and be less combative even during disagreements.
For spouses who feel they have hurt their partners, whether intentionally or not, Dr Gottman recommends using phrases like, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. It makes me sad."
Sex and other forms of intimacy should be a priority.
As people age, life becomes increasingly stressful with children, work, physical health problems, and more. For many couples, the number of times they have sex per week tends to go down over time. However, experts maintain that physical intimacy and satisfaction are necessary to maintain a healthy and happy relationship.
"Closeness and connection are a human need," Dr Sanam Hafeez, a licensed clinical psychologist, told NBC News. "It's important in a relationship to reconnect through sex. Brain chemicals released during sex further enhance the bond."
However, it's also important to never pressure your partner to behave sexually in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Sarah Schewitz explained that people who have experienced trauma, sexual or otherwise, or who have their own personal boundaries with sex should express any concerns with their partner when it comes to physical intimacy.
At the end of the day, the goal of physical connection is to make both of you feel safe, satisfied, and happy.
Seek professional help for your relationship problems.
Psychological Association, this type of therapy is 75% successful in producing positive results and helping couples resolve both their personal and relationship problems.
Couples can seek counselling even before they have relationship problems to understand how to better communicate and avoid certain pitfalls. All couples will have conflict, it would be unhealthy if they didn't. Those couples who can fight fairly and with respect will ultimately be happier.
Seek therapy on a personal level as well.
If you can't love yourself, how can you love another person?
Schewitz said that one of the most positive changes people can try in their relationships is to seek therapy themselves, apart from their partner.
Therapy can help you take things less personally and let your feelings out a lot more. "Educating yourself on relationship issues helps to have a much healthier relationship."
Follow the golden rule and treat your partner the way you like to be treated.
'Make an effort to think about how you are treating your partner,' Scarlett said. "Are you treating your partner the way you like to be treated? Are you showing them respect? Are you really listening to what they are saying? Are you starting your own needs and asking what they need? Making a list is an excellent first step to achieve improvements"