By Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Ashburn Psychological & Psychiatric Services
Do you find yourself in a marriage where you love your spouse, but privately and deep down inside, you don’t necessarily like them very much anymore?
If you answered “yes,” know that you are not alone. Research studies have shown that as many as 6 out of 10 married couples are unhappy. Those studies cite several factors contributing to marital unhappiness, including a sex life with diminishing returns, financial stress, preoccupation with technology, dishonesty, a lack of communication, adultery, and men taking their women for granted regarding domestic responsibilities.
With about 50% of folks getting divorced these days overall, and 41% for those from first marriages, being in an unhappy marriage is no laughing matter. Here are nine tips you can use to help you like your spouse again:
Share Home & Family Responsibilities
Regardless of who the breadwinner is or whether or not one or both of you work outside of the home, divvying up household responsibilities will go a long way for both you and your spouse to feel appreciated, cared for, and respected as partners.
Don’t Over-Focus Your Time On Your Children
If your child and spouse were hanging from a cliff by their fingertips and could only pull up and save one of them, you would keep your child, but how many cliff moments are there in life? So, stop doing things for your kids all the time, do some kind deeds for your spouse, and spend more quality time together as a couple. As parents, our children mean a lot to us, but they shouldn’t always come first.
Don’t Let Yourself Go
Taking care of yourself and taking pride in your appearance is a respectful thing to do for yourself and your partner. It’s one thing to have a drink or two or a sweet treat from time to time, but it’s entirely another thing to overindulge in alcohol or food.
Remember That Your Career Represents Only a Part of Your Life
Suppose you find yourself feeling more comfortable at the office than at home. In that case, it’s time to rethink your work-life balance and priorities — your family time, health, leisure time, spiritual development, and personal well-being should be just as important to you as your work.
Prioritize Time Together
While having some alone time in a marriage is healthy, doing things separately too often can become problematic. Instead, plan a regular “date night” and prioritize time together to help foster closeness and intimacy with your spouse. I also recommend bonding around the less meaningful moments — hitting Costco or running other errands together isn’t necessarily romantic. Still, it can be a positive time as a couple.
Share a Hobby or Goal
Finding an everyday activity or goal you can do together can also increase your bond as a couple. Golfing together, losing weight together, training for a 5K together, and setting a savings goal are just a few ideas to consider to increase the enjoyment in your shared time and the satisfaction in achieving a shared objective.
Put Your Phone Down
Technology is wonderful, but it can interfere with your meaningful relationships if you’re not careful. Research has shown that fifty percent of spouses have reported fighting on vacation because their spouse can’t disconnect from their technology. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, so put your phones and devices down and be in the moment with your partner.
Don’t Forget Your Sex Life
Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that the happiest married couples have sex once a week. However, it’s important to remember that while sex is an important ingredient for intimacy, it’s not everything. Showing genuine interest in your spouse and loving one another will deepen the emotional intimacy in your marriage.
It takes two to make a marriage work, so communicate your feelings if you feel that your needs aren’t being met. If that doesn’t work, consider getting some professional help. A good couple’s therapist can help solve your communication problems and guide you to happiness.
So, if you feel your marriage isn’t what it once was and you find yourself disliking things about your spouse, be proactive and take steps to fix it.