Marriage requires a variety of skills and tools in order for it to be successful. In addition to having the skills and tools, a successful marriage requires a lot of effort and hard work in applying these tools. Just like in any tool box, there will be some tools you use more often than others and you may have some favorites. Learn how to fine tune some of the most important skills and it will greatly improve your marriage.
Even if you think your marriage is doing “okay” or even “well,” there’s always some work that can be done. Nobody is perfect and a desire to keep improving and growing is the sign of someone working toward being their best. If you work on being the best partner you can, you will likely notice that it greatly improves your marriage. Focusing on what you can do better and how you can improve the marriage without trying to force your spouse to change is a great way to help the relationship.
Listen More Than You Talk
Listening is one of the most important skills you can have in a marriage. Learning how to fine tune your listening skills can make a big difference to your relationship.
Take a look at how you listen to your spouse. Do you tend to interrupt? Are you distracted by the television when your spouse talks to you? Are you so busy thinking about what you want to say next that you don’t hear what your spouse says? If any of these sound true, your listening skills could probably use a little work.
Practice reflective listening and you’ll see that it requires you to really understand what your spouse is saying to you. Reflective listening means that before responding, you repeat back what you think your spouse said. This will force you not to just listen but to be able to put your spouse’s words into your own.
Ask for What You Need Assertively
Learning how to ask for what you need is a simple, yet very effective tool that can greatly improve your marital satisfaction. Sometimes people fall into the habit of expecting their partner to just know what they need and if their spouse doesn’t get it, the other person gets upset. Remember that your spouse is not a mind reader.
The other trap people sometimes fall into is thinking they are a “martyr.” They feel they do everything and their spouse does nothing. This tends to lead to feelings of resentment and anger and can cause a break down in the relationship.
Directly stating what you need gives your spouse an opportunity to meet that need. It’s important however, to remember that your spouse has the option to say no. Then it is up to you to find other ways to get your needs met.
Keep Your Reactions in Check
Managing your reactions is vital to the health of your relationship. If you tend to react negatively or have difficulty managing your anger, it will impact your ability to work together as a team. Learning skills to manage your emotional distress is imperative.
If you tend to fly off the handle, jump to conclusions, or panic when things aren’t going your way, you will likely exhaust your spouse at some point. It can be draining to live with someone who can’t control their emotions. Learn how to navigate the world with confidence and how to handle unexpected circumstances with a positive attitude and your satisfaction with life and with your marriage will greatly improve.
More Compliments than Criticisms
It is important to make sure you are offering more compliments than criticisms to your spouse. How often do you praise your spouse? Do you say what you appreciate about your spouse? Comment on the good things? It is important to do so often.
It’s equally important to keep your criticisms in check. Lashing out, complaining, and discussing what your spouse does not do right is only going to cause further problems. It also will make you less pleasant to be around which can further distance you from your spouse. Make it a point to ensure that you are building up your spouse and building your marriage.
Start Conversations on a Positive Note
Take note of how you start out conversations. Take the effort to make sure you are starting them out on a positive note. This is true with your day to day conversations as well as when you are bringing up difficult or serious subjects. For example, say one thing you appreciate about your spouse before discussing how your feelings were hurt by your spouse’s other behaviors. This will help you to stay focused on the positive which can help you focus on what is good within your marriage as well.