Marriage & Life Partners

On the Bright Side: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Marriage — Today

Marriage is a long-term commitment, and everyone knows that there are times when it is less satisfying than others. Getting through the rough patches is essential to making it in the long run.


While it is generally not good to sweep major problems under the rug, letting smaller things go can often be helpful. And there are a few more things anyone can do to make today a better day in your marriage. Even if some things are not right or there are big issues to be dealt with, doing some of these simple things can help ease the tension and create detente.


text 2Illustration by C.A. Martin

  1. Listen: When we live with someone our attention is often diverted to household tasks, even when our partner is talking. It’s a habit we all fall into, and the advent of more and more electronic devices hasn’t made it any easier to give others in the household our full attention. But studies show that most of us want friendship, support, and validation from our relationships. Next time your partner talks to you or tells you a story, put down your phone and really listen.
  2. Say thank you: This is a corollary to listening since both involve basic good manners. We often reserve our best manners for people we know least well, but the foundation of being polite is kindness, and who better to treat with kindness than our family? Remember to thank them for the things they do, even if these tasks are part of their agreed upon responsibilities. Wives often complain that husbands expect a big “thank you” when they do household chores or take on extra work, but they get no gratitude when they perform these duties. Try setting an example by expressing thanks to your husband or children for something you take for granted.
  3. Apologize: The sappy 1970s movie “Love Story” had a tagline that said “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” but nothing could be more wrong. Acknowledging your faults and apologizing for mistakes is an important part of any relationship. Men often have more problems with this than women, but even if the tally is uneven, it’s a good idea to admit when you are wrong. As with saying “thank you,” it might set a good example for your husband and others in the family.  I read a novel recently in which a character says, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be married?”
  4. Pitch in: Even if you are overworked and overloaded, recognizing that your spouse has similar burdens will help him feel acknowledged. Volunteering to help will go even further in making him feel supported. Even if there is nothing you can do directly to ease his burdens it’s nice to offer. And maybe you can do something indirectly like give him a gift certificate for a massage. Again, you’ll be expressing support and setting a new pattern in your marriage.
  5. Warm up: Expressions of physical affection almost always improve a relationship. You do not necessarily have to have sex to express physical warmth toward your husband, (although they like that too!). People sometimes feel that the longer there has been a “drought” of physical affection in a marriage the harder it is to break the ice. They also worry about rejection. Start small and see what develops. Again, it is not necessary for all to be forgiven or every problem to be solved for you to start moving closer to your spouse today.

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  • Holly October 18, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Great advice. I find if you listen carefully you will hear your spouse he will tell you all sorts of things about books he might want,etc. which will give you good ideas for gifts, etc.
    He will really appreciate gifts that show you’ve been listening.

  • Andrea October 18, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Thank you Cecilia for another insightful article on marriage. It’s ALWAYS important to revisit ones relationship and fine tune it again and again!