10 Things To Do If You Want to Work on your Marriage

10 Things To Do If You Want to Work on your Marriage

It’s impossible to resolve all the conflicts in your marriage. Then what do we do to make marriages or relationships work?

Here are 10 easy research backed ways to work on your marriage

1- Get to know your partner, rather intimately: Think about how well you know your best friend, then get to know your partner better. Learn about their dreams, hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, etc. Basically almost everything. This is what Dr. John & Julie Gottman call enhancing your love maps. Actually set an hour a week to sit down to ask your partner about them and listen like nothing else matters. Alternate between roles every week. Wondering which questions to start with? Here are 50 questions to ask your partner to know them better.

2 – Foster Fondness & Admiration: Remind yourself about the positive qualities of your partner and share it with them. Let’s say they made an amazing meal.  say something like, thank you for the lovely meal yesterday, I appreciate it. Doing this at least once a day fosters a sense of admiration that prevents you from getting overly critical of your partner, even in disagreement. Another good way to foster fondness is to recall your history. Sit and talk about the first time you met. Research states that 94% of the people who recall their history fondly either have stable marriages or are at least, able to repair their marriages.

3 – Cherish your Partner: Cherishing refers to intentionally thinking positively about your partner, when you are apart. Think about 5 qualities that you appreciate in your partner and bolster that quality with an example of each.

4 – Turn Towards your Partner, Not Away:  Turning towards your partner refers to micro moments of your complete undivided attention. This could be something as simple as looking up from your phone while your partner is trying to talk to you as you sip your morning tea. Show genuine interest, nod, make eye contact, ask open ended questions. Turning towards your partner might seem insignificant. However, these moments add up over a lifetime. They help mutual trust and an emotional connection, which is more important in a relationship than any annual vacation to Paris. Research suggests that happier couples turned towards each other 86% more than others.

5 – Let your Partner Influence you: Make sure your partner has a say in your decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking you to do exactly as they say, simply consider their opinions and in case of disagreement look for common ground. Suppose you want to invite guests home, don’t just decide on a date and time alone, make sure your partner’s availability is taken into account, even if they are a homemaker.

6 – Soften Your Start-Up: How you start a conversation, sets the stage for how it’s going to go. According to Dr. John Gottman, the first 15 minutes of a conversation are enough to judge its direction. So start soft, especially when heading for a topic of conflict

  • Stick to a situation: Let’s say you are upset at your partner for bailing on you yesterday. Complain only about that. Avoid generalizations like ‘always’ and ‘never’
  • Describe the situation, don’t evaluate: Just share what happened. Try not to judge the situation and label it as good, bad or talk in terms of how frequently it happens.
  • Share responsibility: Always remember that you and your partner are always on the same team, even when you are in disagreement. Assume some responsibility. In the case of your partner bailing on you, you could say okay maybe I could have reminded you.
  • Use I Statements: use I statements. This makes the conversation about how you felt instead of an accusatory finger at your partner, which will immediately put them on the defensive
  • Highlight a Positive Need: Explain what you need your partner to do, this changes the conversation from a blame game to an opening into what they can do to change the situation. For this example, You could say that I need you to show up for our dates or at least inform me a day in advance that we would not be meeting

7 – Learn to Make and Receive Repair Attempts: A repair attempt is any silly, goofy, stupid act or word that deescalates the tension in the room while you are in disagreement. It could be a goofy face, bringing your tongue out or cracking a stupid joke that’s significant for the both of you. Think about how you cracked a joke when your bestie was extremely upset with you, that’s exactly what you are doing here.

8 – Soothe yourself & Your Partner: It’s crucial to soothe yourself and your partner when things get escalated during an argument. This helps you feel safe, your body’s alarm system turns off and you can actually think from your prefrontal cortex about what is going on. If your brain’s alarm system goes off, the only thing your brain would be interested in would be keeping you safe from the pseudo threat that your partner is throwing at you. To soothe yourself, regulate your breathing and then tighten and release all your bodily muscles one group at a time.

9 – Process your Grief so that it doesn’t Linger:  It’s important to resolve the emotional baggage from a disagreement so that neither of you bring it up at a later date. To do this:-.

  • Choose one single incident to discuss
  • Decide who will speak first, take turns
  • Name exactly how you were feeling
  • Share what you needed instead
  • Acknowledge your role
  • Identify your triggers
  • Plan constructively to avoid the same issue gain

10 – Create Shared Meaning:  Creating a micro culture of your own that is hopefully some mixture of both your families’ cultures. Look for common values and ideals that you want to take forward in the family.

Forty five years of research have validated these seven principles to be the secret sauce for a successful romantic relationship, for the west. I am going to be interviewing 10 couples to understand their validity in India and doing a deep dive on each principal. Stay tuned to know what we find out!

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