Married couples don’t just fall out of love. This idea of a passive breakup doesn’t account for the intentional work it takes to fortify a relationship over time. Thriving in a marriage takes patience, mindfulness, and a heartful approach. Let’s dive into 5 ways to keep your marriage strong.
1. Care About What Your Spouse Cares About
Maybe your spouse is enthused about taking dancing classes, or perhaps they’d like to join a softball league. Even if you’re not as passionate about these interests, it’s important to show your partner that you care about what they care about. Give it a try, and show that you care enough about your partner to partake in some of their interests.
At the very least, ask about it. Discover what has spurred on this new curiosity. You may uncover opportunities to do other things that you can both enjoy. Say you’re not entirely thrilled about taking dance classes together. However, after discussing and doing some research on your own, you find a cooking course that you think could be fun for both of you.
Keep in mind that we’re not saying you should begrudgingly go along with every new thing that pops up. The idea here is to show that you are actively aware and genuinely care about your partner’s ongoing or changing interests, or this could seriously backfire.
2. Establish Autonomy
While it’s important to find ways to participate in activities that your partner wants to do together, there are some things that each of you need to do alone. And that’s OK!
Examples of individual activities could include working with a life coach, exercising, continued education, or starting a business. Remember, building yourselves as individuals can help you become stronger in your marriage.
It’s important to be honest about your intentions here. If you find yourself wanting to do more on your own to avoid spending time with your spouse, there may be a deeper issue at large. Stay vigilant of your purpose—use your autonomy to grow individually and as a couple.
3. Construct Solutions Together
Sometimes you find yourself at odds with your partner. The tendency here is to put up a wall and stand your ground, or settle on a compromise. However, neither is the healthiest way to move forward here.
Instead, focus on communicating with your spouse to creatively and constructively develop solutions. Make sure to actively listen to your partner and assert that they do the same. In the end, you should walk away with a plan upon which you both agree is best.
Let’s say you disagree with parenting guidelines over your adolescent child. Instead of trying to prove who’s right and wrong, ask about what each of your goals are and work out the solution from there. By starting with goals, you get to understand the core values each of you hold and uncover what’s most important and what can be negotiated.
4. Talk About Money
Money is a common culprit for marital disputes. To avoid having money continually surface as a point of contention, carry honest and open conversations with your partner. Ask these questions to yourself and your spouse:
- Who should manage the money and bills? Or should we manage our own finances?
- What do you consider joint expenses and what do you consider individual expenses?
- How much should we be saving per month?
- Is there a major purchase you’d like to make? If so, when?
- Should we make investments? Why or why not?
- Should we open a credit card (individually or together)? Why or why not?
- How much debt do we have? How should we pay it off?
These are just a few questions to get you started. Think deeply about any and all money matters that are important to you and write them down. Clearly explain how you feel and actively listen to your partner as they share their views.
Understand that familial, cultural, and religious differences may come into play, too. Some cultures may prioritize frugality while others celebrate abundance. Whether or not your spouse grew up in a wealthy family or arose from poverty are important distinctions as well. Your spouse’s background and experience is vital to this topic, so use empathy to guide your discussions about money.
Make it a habit to check in often, so you are united in your approach to your financial future.
5. Get Professional Help
If your disagreements have brought you two to a standoff, find an expert to help you work through it.
Don’t just rely on family and friends here. Be mindful that their advice about your relationship can be one-sided and overly favorable to your point of view. A neutral third party gives you the best chance to work through tough situations.
Speak with a Therapist
Talking through your problems with a marriage counselor can open up deep explorations and conversations that you may have not been able to uncover on your own. If you need a reference, reach out to us and we can connect you with a trusted therapist in our network.
Consult a Family Law Attorney
In some cases, especially when it comes to finances, you may need a formal document to solve your disagreement. Let’s say one of you just inherited a huge sum of money, but can’t come to terms on how to spend it. A family law attorney can help craft a postnuptial agreement to clearly define how the money can be spent and what would happen if the marriage came to an end.
Don’t be afraid to have this conversation. You’re not necessarily doing this because you’re breaking up. You’re doing this to resolve your differences now while protecting your interests in the event of an unexpected end to your marriage.
We understand this isn’t easy. This is why we take a compassionate and highly personal approach to resolving family matters like these. Contact us to consult with an expert family law attorney with over a decade of experience. Rest assured, we always have your best interests in mind.