Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and hopefully you had some time to let your spouse or significant other know how important they are in your life. That’s great if you did, but getting along with your spouse should be something you focus on throughout the year—not just in February. Unfortunately, the busyness of life often gets in the way, and it’s all too easy to take your spouse for granted. Instead, spend some time every day nurturing your relationship. The following tips should help.
Accept your spouse for who he is. I talked about this at length in my previous post, but it’s important to realize that there will always be some things you don’t like about your spouse. Nobody gets along 100 percent of the time. Since you can’t force someone to change, try to mesh with your spouse instead. Find common interests and ways to connect and grow together.
Enjoy some child-free time together. One of the best ways to grow together is to spend some regular time as a couple—without your children. Your life is about more than parenting, although that is important, but your children need to know that you are also husband and wife. If you don’t date on a regular basis, you will feel like strangers when the kids leave home.
Ignore the small stuff. The toilet seat is up—again! She likes meatloaf; you hate it. At times, it feels like your spouse is doing things just to annoy you. While you may be frustrated over some of the things your spouse does, it’s best not to get worked up over these petty problems. Doing so often causes more harm than good. If you must address it, find a way to do so non-aggressively.
Avoid sensitive topics. We can’t all agree on everything—especially things like politics. If you and your spouse take different sides on an issue, don’t talk about it. You didn’t marry her because she belongs to a particular political party, so if you differ, don’t let it ruin your relationship. Politics and religion have diversified a lot of relationships, so be sure to respect your spouse’s values.
Spend some time apart. You don’t have to spend every minute with your spouse. In fact, it’s healthy not to. Instead, find some friends outside of the relationship and make time to nurture those relationships as well. After you’ve spent time with others, you’ll have more to talk about with your spouse. That leads to a stronger bond between the two of you.
Communicate about finances. Ah, money woes! It’s the big trigger for many marital problems. Some couples pool their money, while others prefer to maintain separate bank accounts. Whatever you decide, it’s important to communicate with each other about your financial goals and agree on how to manage your money. When problems arise, not talking about it only makes the matter worse.
Create some common goals. Not many things strengthen a relationship more than working together toward a common goal. Both parties naturally feel happier as a result. Take some time to talk with your partner about the things that are important to you as a couple and what you’d like to accomplish. While you don’t have to share every goal in life, there will undoubtedly be some ambitions that you both want to pursue.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.