Marriage can be hard. It can be really hard. Perhaps, it’s harder than anything you even imagined.
How did you go from marital bliss to feeling so angry at each other all the time? Well, life happened. Work, children, household obligations, carpools, cooking, and so on and so on and so on.
People get overwhelmed and stressed and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Your patience runs thin and you start to take it out on the people you love most. Sometimes, you don’t ever realize it’s happening until it’s so very bad or even too late.
Once you do, it seems that most people are quick to blame their partners and unwilling to see their own role in it. And nobody seems to want to invest the time or energy it would take to examine where things went wrong and try to fix it.
Let’s face it. We’re all busy people and looking for the quickest, easiest way to do things. Attention spans and patience aren’t what they used to be, and any time there is a quick fix for anything, it’s more desirable than any other method, even if the longer method might be more effective.
So, if I told you there was a way to have a quick marriage makeover, would you want it? It seems that most would. If you can avoid time consuming and expensive therapy sessions, tedious conversations with your partner about all the problems you seem to be having, and get fast results…who wouldn’t want that?
Well, I just might have the answer you’re looking for.
I believe I have a recipe for a quick marriage makeover. It’s mostly common sense, simple and easy to understand and implement. It’s a lot of things you might already know, but somehow so easily seem to forget when faced with the realities and challenges of marriage that seem to happen so frequently.
Follow these quick, simple steps to start improving your marriage today.
Remember that the only one you can change is yourself
Don’t fixate on the “he needs to change this” or “she needs to be more like that”. It’s untrue, unlikely, and you’ll make yourself crazy wishing and waiting for that change to occur. He doesn’t really need to change; it’s just that whatever he is doing is really annoying to you and you’d very much like it to change. She doesn’t need to be more like this or that; it’s just that all the nagging is driving you crazy and you wish it would stop.
This idea that it’s always the other person who needs to change of fix something comes from our own thought and beliefs. These are so ingrained in us, that they quite literally become a part of who we are at the core.
Most of us don’t even realize these are just thoughts and beliefs, which can be challenged and changed. We usually just think this is the way things are supposed to be, that it’s right, and that anyone who doesn’t follow is wrong.
But where is it written that your way, your idea, your belief or expectation is right? Nowhere. Because there is no such thing.
Every person and every couple gets to write the script of what is right for them.
Understand then when you change something, there is an effect on the whole relationship
….and the other person almost always has to do something different as well. You have more power to change things than you might realize. You’ve just been doing it the wrong way.
Take for example the nagging in the above example. If your wife is constantly nagging you to put your clothes in the hamper, let’s say, and the nagging is starting to drive you crazy and you’re fighting about it all the time, you have some choices here.
You can keep putting your clothes on the floor, and she will keep getting annoyed, will keep nagging you, and you will keep getting angry with the nagging. You will stay stuck and the anger and resentment will not only build, but will likely creep into other aspects of your marriage and slowly deteriorate it.
You could, however, make a change. You could actually decide that even though you don’t think clothes on the floor is a big deal, you think your wife is overreacting and has OCD or whatever, you could just simply pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper, without her even asking or nagging for you to do so.
You could make a choice, and realize that it is highly likely that if you make this small change and put your clothes away, your wife will not nag you about this anymore. And if your wife is not nagging you, you might like her more, and treat her nicer. When you treat her nicer, she will be happier.
Happy people like to do nice things for other people.
She might even do something nice for you. And now, with one easy step, you’ve created a snowball effect of positivity in your marriage.
Notice when your partner does something good
That means any time he or she does something without being asked, something you wanted him or her to do, something that needed to get done, something just to make you smile, or anything at all, make sure to notice.
Notice it out loud.
Give thanks and recognition, even if you don’t think it is necessary. Everyone, and I mean everyone, likes to feel appreciated and noticed. Your partner is no exception.
Think about the last time you were praised or noticed for something you did. It probably doesn’t happen nearly often enough, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that you like it, and it feels good. If everyone did this more, then more positive actions are encouraged and likely to happen, and then once again, the simple act of noticing becomes a catalyst for more ongoing positive interaction within the relationship.
So that is it. Just three easy little steps to make over your marriage today. No therapy, no long discussions, no fights. These are things that are easy to do and understand and start doing today. Go ahead. Give it a try. Your marriage is worth it.
Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas. Contact Lori at lorifresontherapy.com or call/text 818-514-LMFT