Frustrated in Your Marriage? 5 Proven Steps to Start Taking in Your RelationshipOct 08, 2021
We've heard these phrases and experienced these feelings from couples for years now. You may not have said any of the above, but chances are you have felt similar and can understand why couples could feel frustrated, far from each other, or at the very least, blah. Living with another human is difficult, especially when you add the variables of stress, work, kids, money, upbringings, and personality differences.
To be clear, we are not giving you a pass. It's okay for it to be hard and to be frustrated, but meaning in your marriage comes from stepping into the difficulty. The good news is..."YOU ARE NOT ALONE." It's our goal to provide action steps for navigating these difficulties and regular tips for managing the many things that come at us and frustrate us throughout out relationships.
Here are 5 Proven Steps to Start Improving Your Relationship Today!
1. Show & Tell
You may not always like your spouse, but at some point you loved them. The first thing you can do to shake off your frustration and shift your focus within your relationship is to reflect back on why you got married and the things that made you fall in love. Even if you don't "feel" in love at the moment or if you spouse is acting different than they did when you fell in love, spend some time thinking about what it was/is about them that you love and focus on that. Once you land on a few things that remind you of why you fell in love, TELL YOUR SPOUSE. Every single time we lead couples through this activity, they admit it has been too long since they told each other why they love each other. Let me say that again so you don't miss it...TELL YOUR SPOUSE why you fell in love.
Additionally, if your spouse isn't acting/behaving the same way they did when you fell in love, chances are you are a few shades off from who you used to be, too. Consider what you could do to show your spouse that you love them. Even if they don't deserve it, pretend they are the exact same person they were when you married them and do what you would do then. SHOW YOUR SPOUSE that you love them by doing something small that they would enjoy or benefit from.
2. Memory Lane
While reflecting on why you fell in love is a great step in the right direction, it can also be incredibly meaningful and bonding to take a stroll down memory lane together. We often ask the simple question, "What are your top 5 moments?" You can think big and consider the top 5 moments of all time or pick a simpler timeframe like over the last year. Our brains are wired to focus on the bad things to protect us from them so we have to do intentional work to think about good things in our relationships.
Most couples end up laughing or smiling and because of that they immediately start thinking about how to get more of those top 5 moments in the future. We recommend couples do this top 5 moments activity at least once per year (it's a great anniversary conversation), but why not check in more often? If you do, the chances of your relationship experiencing more top 5 moments increases significantly.
3. Opposites Attract
Let's admit it...the very things that attracted us to our spouse are some of the things that drive us absolutely crazy no more than a few months after the honeymoon stage has passed. The harsh reality is that not much changed other than our perception of these things. We extend more grace when we are "in love." The tiny annoyances don't stack up as much when we don't spend every waking hour together. And our capacity to overlook things decreases as complications in life increase (mortgage, kids, car payments, bosses/coworkers, etc).
Here's the deal, marriage is not a compatibility vs incompatibility endeavor. We are intended to be complimentary. While life might be a little easier if your spouse would be ready on time, make a decision about what's for dinner, slow down and listen, or read your mind; marriage isn't going to be perfect...neither are they and neither are you.
Take some time to list all of the ways in which your spouse is different from you. 1. make note of how those things compliment your strengths, and 2. be on the look out for the ways they offset your weaknesses. It doesn't hurt to tell your spouse about the things you notice that they do that makes your life better (even though it might still be annoying).
4. Walk & Talk
We all get in ruts. We run and run: to work, to day care, to school, to band practice/lessons, to sporting events on weekends, and to all the household chores. This chaos often leads to running on empty and a harsh reality that our tasks get the best of us and our spouses get the worst of us.
So what do we do about it? Do something to break the cycle. Do something so simple that it can fit into the chaos. Go for a walk and talk. I know it sounds so simple and crazy, but almost every couple we have worked with says they have benefited from getting out of the house and going for a walk. Walking increases oxygen to the brain. Kinesthetic movement unlocks portions of our brains for creativity and problem solving. It's also enough of a change from the chaos, that we actually talk with our spouses. There are less distractions, and the activity allows us to get right back to it when we experience a minor interruption.
Walks can also happen with kid in a stroller, at home or at the soccer game, and they can even happen with coffee in hand. Try hacking your already existing routine by adding a walk together once per week and actually talk about more than the family calendar and who is responsible for what upcoming task.
5. Say Sorry
Okay...hear me out. I know you don't want to. BUT let me just say that saying sorry does not mean that you have lost, that the other person was right, or even that the other person wasn't wrong. One of our spotlight couples said it this way, "Saying sorry is not an admission of wrong doing but a way to recognize how your actions may have had a negative impact on your significant other." We would add that saying sorry is a way to acknowledge and recognize that whatever is going on is negatively impacting your relationship. Nobody needs to win or lose, but saying sorry is a way to step in the direction of your spouse and build trust. Sorry = vulnerability.
Admittedly, there are also times where we were actually wrong. There are times where your spouse behaved poorly. These are events in your marriage timeline. The timeline and journey is always bigger than the events. Try saying sorry and focusing on the future of your timeline rather than getting stuck in a negative event.
*Saying sorry needs an asterisk because we understand there are extenuating circumstances in some cases where abuse, manipulation, and deep emotional pain are at play. In these instances, professional help should be the 1st step. Don't hesitate to contact us for resources and references to people around the globe or with virtual options.
The Meaningful Marriage exists to make all of the above easier and more regular. It's hard to make time for this stuff, and then when you do it's hard to know what to do, what to say, or what to ask. Our video programs and workbooks are an easy way to infuse valuable guided conversations in the most important areas of your marriage. We also offer coaching if you have a specific topic or situation you want to work through. As always, we are hear to help and we wish you the best in this crazy journey.
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