Thanks to Sarah Davis for today’s Guest Post:
Nobody thinks of divorce when they first get married. In the beginning, you’re consumed by the need to be with the one you love, high on the excitement of getting to know their dreams and desires, basking in the contagious glow that clings to new lovers. The last thing on your mind is what could go wrong beyond the altar to land you, years later, in divorce court.
But as most marriage counselors could tell you, the divorce rate in this country is as high as 36% for some demographics (those age 20-24 when married). That means you could be looking at only a 1 in 3 chance of success in your marriage. And in case you didn’t know, marriage is hard work. As the first flush of love begins to fade and you settle into life with another person, a change begins to take place. Suddenly, you notice little flaws that you somehow overlooked during dating, like the fact that he leaves his dishes within inches of the dishwasher without putting them in, or the fact that she feels the need to tell you every little detail of her day, including every…single…item she purchased at the grocery store. You get busy with work, kids, and running a household, you start to take the other person for granted, and before you know it, you haven’t even kissed each other, much less made love, in six months. Whoa! Hold the phone! This is not the way you envisioned your marriage progressing! Luckily, realizing you have a problem is the first step to solving it. Next, you’ll need to follow a few simple guidelines to keep the spark alive and make your marriage a success.
- Communicate – this is the key to any successful relationship, from acquaintance to co-worker, and your marriage is no exception. There is almost no problem that cannot be solved if both parties are willing to listen with a kind ear. This means you not only have to pay attention to your partner’s thoughts and feelings, you also have to show a little understanding and compassion. When you come to your partner with complaints, try to be concise about what the problem is. If you’re upset that they don’t spend enough time with you, don’t trash the Xbox. Tell them that you miss the intimacy you shared early in the relationship and suggest activities that the two of you could do together (that you would both enjoy – it doesn’t work if you try to make him sit through chick flicks…that’s what your girlfriends are for). Being coy or playing games will only serve to frustrate you both, so say what you mean and engage in give and take. It’s the best way to ensure that you both remain happy and fulfilled.
- Institute a date night – whether you’re proud parents or devoted to your careers, it’s important to set aside some time to focus on each other. Make a solid commitment to do this at least once a week! Between hectic schedules and good old exhaustion, it can be hard to find time to love your partner the way you should (and I don’t just mean sex). People seek out partners for a number of reasons, but ultimately, we all want a companion and a lover that we can trust and grow old with. And when you agree to share your lives, you should actually plan on spending some time sharing. Plus, if you do things together, like seeing movies or concerts, visiting a museum, or even trying a new restaurant, you will automatically have something new to talk about. Let’s face it, we’ve all had those days where we told our spouse the same bit of news two or three times in a row without even realizing it. It’s easy to get bored, so make sure you have something to fuel your need for variety. Another good way to do this is to take a class together. You can try that new zumba class at the gym, learn to play golf, or take photography or painting at your local community college. Anything is better than collapsing on the couch in front of Leno every night of the week.
- Show your love – a peck on the cheek when you’re both late for work can be unavoidable, but don’t make it a habit. Make time for at least one passionate kiss each day! It will make both of you feel good and may lead to more. Touching is also nice, be it running your hands through your partner’s hair or giving a foot rub. We all need to be touched and your spouse should be the main source. And don’t forget to say, “I love you.” It’s easy to be offhand once you get in the habit of saying it, but try to remember why you love them and let them know the reasons. And one thing every couple should try is gazing into each other’s eyes. It sounds cheesy, but it can be very revealing of the state of your relationship. Discomfort can signal a problem whereas bursting into giggles probably means you’re doing okay. And if there’s trouble in the bedroom (as in, nothing is happening), there are about a zillion ways to spice up your love life, from toys to outfits to videos, so maybe try some out. At the very least, turn off the TV for awhile and see what happens. Or read each other a romance novel. Or schedule in a sponge bath. You could even try renting a hotel room for a change of scenery. Whatever it takes to spark the romance, don’t hesitate to try it (as long as both parties are comfortable with it).
If nothing seems to be working, you can always turn to therapy for help or even try a re-commitment ceremony with your own vows to remind you why you got married in the first place. It does take work to keep a marriage going, but it gets easier with practice. Keeping the spark alive means paying attention to each other and taking an active interest, from simple conversations to your most intimate moments. There are plenty of people who will try to sell you on gimmicks and quick fixes to get your marriage back on track, but communication and a commitment to work on your relationship is a better recipe for a lifetime of love and devotion.
Sarah Davis is a content writer for DiscountVouchers.org, where you can find Dell Discount Vouchers. When she is not writing, she spends time with her husband and attends college at California Lutheran University where she is enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy program.