There are several things you can work on every single day to improve your marriage. Taking small steps each day can help improve your habits. Over time, it can greatly improve the quality of your relationship. The following four areas can be addressed each day and can help you to gain more skills that can be very helpful to your marriage.
Practice Your Listening Skills
Listening is the most important part of communication. Learning how to actively listen to your spouse can make a big difference. Active listening requires that you show you are interested in what your spouse is saying and it also shows that you are genuinely trying to understand your spouse’s message.
When your spouse is talking to you, avoid other distractions. Turn of the television. Put down the laptop. If you are doing something that cannot wait, tell your spouse that you need another minute or two before you can offer your full attention. Then, when you can give your undivided attention, tell your spouse you are ready to listen. Make eye contact with your spouse to show you are paying attention.
Simply listening to your spouse can make a big difference in your marriage. Listening requires that you really pay attention and try to understand what your spouse is communicating. If you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
Not listening leads to many conflicts in marriage. When you understand what your spouse is communicating, you can validate your spouse’s feelings. Work on trying to understand what your spouse is telling you by using reflective listening. Reflective listening means you try to respond to what your spouse said in your own words.
For example, if your spouse says, “I can’t believe you are going golfing instead of having dinner at my mother’s house,” your response is very important. If you respond defensively by saying something such as, “You never go to my mother’s house with me,” it isn’t likely going to be helpful. However, acknowledge what you hear your spouse saying by responding with something such as “You’re disappointed I’m not going to have dinner with your mother today.” Then open this up to discussion. Even though you might still decide to go golfing, it can mean a lot to your spouse to just be heard.
Practice Conflict Resolution Skills
All marriages will have conflict. Learning and practicing skills for how to resolve conflict can help you strengthen your marriage. Disagreements don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be healthy to disagree with your spouse.
If you aren’t sure if you are resolving your conflict in a healthy manner, consider how often someone has hurt feelings when you disagree. This can be a sign it is unhealthy. It can also be damaging to the marriage if one person feels like they’ve “won” or “got the upper hand” after an argument.
Resolving conflict peacefully requires several skills. Communication skills, the ability to negotiate, and a willingness to compromise are all important. Problem-solving skills are also another important asset that can help you resolve skills peacefully. If you need some work in these areas, take time each day to work on it. When you and your spouse have a disagreement, consider it an opportunity to practice your skills.
Spend Quality Time Together
Spending quality time together can help you stay emotionally connected. It can help remind you of why you got married in the first place. However, with life’s busy schedules, it can be difficult to find time together.
Make time for your spouse each day. Find time to have some conversation together and enjoy one another’s company. If your conversations seem more like business meetings where you find yourselves discussing things such as who will do what errands, what bills are due, and what your schedules look like, it can be a sign you need more time together. Spending quality time means you have the opportunity to enjoy each other, talk about a variety of topics, and relax, not just coordinate appointments.
Provide Praise and Compliments
Make sure to give your spouse some positive feedback everyday. This can help you to focus on what you enjoy about your spouse, rather than thinking about those things that annoy you. This can also help your spouse stay focused on the positive and can reinforce those things that you like.
Make sure that your sentiments are genuine and also make sure that they aren’t back-handed compliments either. For example, if your spouse does the dishes don’t say, “It’s nice you actually did something for a change!” This isn’t a compliment in any way, shape or form and won’t motivate your spouse to do the dishes again tomorrow. Instead offer genuine gratitude. For example, say, “I really appreciate that you took the time to do the dishes today. It was very helpful.”
Unfortunately, many couples are too quick to point out what their spouse isn’t doing well. Make sure to give your spouse many more compliments than criticisms. Make it a daily habit to point out those things you appreciate. Sending a note, leaving a voicemail, or a quick text message can be a good way to say you care in addition to giving verbal praises.