How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Spouse

Three Parts:Working on CommunicationRekindling the RomanceStrengthening Your Marital Bonds

Marriage is the ultimate bond between two partners. You made a vow to love one another for better or for worse, but sometimes things become strained. Perhaps you had a bad fight, you feel yourselves drifting apart, or you may have simply reached a point where you realize you need to improve the relationship. Relationships require work and commitment to keep your love for one another strong, and marriage is no exception. With a little effort, some understanding, and a bit of patience, you and your spouse can improve your marriage and remember why you pledged your love to one another.

Part 1
Working on Communication

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    Listen to your spouse. Often times couples that have been together for a long time take the things that are said for granted. For example, your spouse might tell you that something you're doing has been bothering him/her, but you might assume that it's not a big deal because you've been together for so long. However, little things add up, and when your partner feels invalidated or unheard, that can lead to bigger trust and intimacy issues down the line.[1]
    • Start with spending quality time with your spouse. Quality time is time that you reserve unconditionally and completely for your spouse. No matter what happens, you reserve this time for your spouse. Phone rings? Hang up and shut it off in front of your spouse. Mean it. And then ... listen. Sit together, watch each other, enjoy each others presence and enjoy being together. At least once a week for 30 - 60 minutes. And while you're at it, remember why you married your spouse.
    • If your spouse tells you there is a problem, you need to take that statement seriously. Work on solving the problem, either alone or together, but make sure you take your partner's concerns seriously.
    • Address your partner's needs. If your spouse is telling you what he or she wants from the relationship, you need to put in the effort to make it happen or work together to find a compromise.
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    Be open and honest with each other. Honesty is tremendously important in a relationship, especially if you're married. You want to feel that you can trust your spouse, and you want your partner to feel the same way. But honesty and openness extends beyond just telling the truth; it also means not withholding information, and not holding back when there's something you want to address.[2]
    • Never lie to your partner. Even a small lie, like saying something doesn't bother you when it secretly does, can eventually boil over into resentment and arguments.
    • Open up and let yourself be vulnerable with your partner. Tell your spouse your secret hopes and dreams, your deepest fears, and other things that you keep hidden.
    • Let your partner open up and be vulnerable with you. This can help build trust and foster a stronger sense of intimacy and affection.
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    Work on compromising. Compromising can be difficult, especially when emotions are running high after an argument. However, needing to be right for 30 seconds isn't worth the strain that argument could put on your relationship down the line. It's normal to disagree or even argue from time to time, but you need to be willing to let go of your side in the name of compromising and collaborating.
    • Don't think of arguments as something that need to be "won." This is dangerous thinking, as it pits you and your spouse against each other.[3]
    • Let go of things that aren't worth fighting over. Even if you weren't in the wrong, it's not worth the stress and frustration of an argument.
    • Be willing to cede an argument. Just because you think you're right, it doesn't mean arguing your point any further will get you anywhere, so work on dropping it before it escalates.
    • Compromise makes your relationship stronger. When you both set aside your needs, including your need to be right, you can work together as a team for the betterment of both partners.[4]
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    Use "I" statements. When you and your spouse have a disagreement, it's important to avoid using accusations or insults. One way many spouses inadvertently hurt their partners is by using "you" statements instead of "I" statements. Using "I" statements can help convey the way you're feeling and promote a productive, positive conversation, instead of hurting your partner's feelings.
    • A "you" statement conveys blame to your partner. For example, "You're always late, and you make me look bad as a result!"
    • An "I" statement reframes the conversation in a way that focuses on the feeling, not on pinning blame or guilt. For example, "When you don't keep track of the time and we have somewhere to be, it makes me feel like you're not taking my feelings into consideration."
    • An "I" statement has three components: a concise and non-accusatory description of the specific behavior you're having problems with, your feelings on that behavior, and the tangible, concrete effect your partner's specific behavior has on you.[5]
    • The behavior component should stick to the facts of the situation, your feelings should be directly related to that behavior, and the effect should either specify the consequences or support your feelings on the matter.[6]
    • The goal is to be as specific as possible and stick to the issue at hand. Don't drag up other unrelated issues or feelings, just focus on the tangible effects of the current problem.
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    Never yell at your partner. Many people begin yelling without even realizing it. When you have an argument, your emotions may be running high, and you might feel very passionately about the thing you're debating. However, yelling at your spouse will only have one of two results: either your partner will yell back, and you'll be screaming at one another, or your partner will become fearful of you. Either way, it's a damaging situation that can put a huge strain on your relationship.[7]
    • It may feel relieving in the moment to yell and let out your frustrations, but your emotions will be running high.
    • You're more likely to say things that you don't mean when you yell, and you won't be able to take back those hurtful words later when you're calmed down.
    • Avoid talking about important things when you (and/or your partner) are upset. Take a walk, or simply excuse yourself from the room for 5 or 10 minutes, then restart the conversation when you're both calm.

Part 2
Rekindling the Romance

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    Change up your routine. Whether you've been married for two years or twenty years, it can easily feel like you and your partner have fallen into a rut. Routines form because they are convenient and they make it easier to navigate your day-to-day life, but falling into ruts and routines in your relationship can slowly kill the romance without you even realizing it.[8]
    • If you usually eat in most nights, try going out for a date night. If you typically make your own separate meals, try cooking a meal for your partner and eating together.
    • Do something exciting together that you and your spouse wouldn't normally do. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, but it should push you both to have fun and get excited together.
    • Take a romantic vacation together, or just plan a fun and exciting day together - even if it just means going to a carnival or an amusement park.
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    Flirt with one another. When you and your spouse were dating, you probably flirted with one another all the time. So why did you stop? Most couples get comfortable with one another, which is obviously a good thing. But the downside of getting comfortable is forgetting how to turn on the charm, often because you haven't had to in several months (or even years).[9]
    • Make eye contact.
    • Smile at your partner and act giggly.
    • Use romantic body language, and mimic your partner's body language.[10]
    • Stand facing one another, avoid crossing your arms, and lean in towards one another when you speak.
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    Increase your physical contact. Physical contact is an important component of intimacy. Physical contact makes you feel desired, and it can make you feel comfortable and closer with your partner. If you're already very intimate and have a lot of physical contact, then keep doing it. If you've lost that part of your relationship, make an effort to bring it back.[11]
    • Physical contact doesn't just mean sex (although many people do consider sex a healthy part of marriage). It can mean holding hands, snuggling, embracing, kissing, or any other kind of affectionate contact.
    • Your partner probably wants physical contact as much as you do, but may be too shy or worried that you don't also want it.
    • Don't stress over physical contact, just initiate it. Your partner will appreciate it, and it will help you both feel closer to one another.
    • Remember that feelings often follow actions. If you put forth the effort and try to make a romantic evening for one another, the romantic feelings will follow.[12]
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    Make time for intimacy. If you've been married for a while, you probably both feel overwhelmed from time to time with trying to balance your work life and your home life. This can be even more daunting if you have kids. But making time for intimacy without any distractions (kids, work calls/emails, etc.) can do wonders to bring back the spark in your relationship, especially if you make it a consistent priority week after week.[13]
    • Spending time with one another, especially with physical contact, often sets the stage for sex and will make you both feel closer to one another.
    • If you have to, schedule time for intimacy and/or sex. Experts advise that even setting aside 30 minutes for some intimate time alone can do wonders for your relationship.
    • Drop your kids off at a babysitter's, or if they're old enough to be out alone you can give them money to go see a movie or shop at the mall. That will buy you some alone time with your spouse.
    • Turn off your cellphones when you're being intimate together. Nothing kills the mood like your partner getting dragged into a long work-related phone call.
    • Intimacy isn't just a one-time thing. You'll need to work hard to make time for it every week, or several times a week, or however often you and your partner need it.
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    Convey your sexual preferences. This relates to being honest and open in your communication with one another. Some people are afraid to convey their desires to others, even to a spouse. However, your preferences are nothing to feel embarrassed or ashamed of. Talk to your partner about what your sexual preferences or fantasies are, and ask your partner about his or her preferences. And no matter what you or your partner want, be mutually respectful of one another's needs.[14]
    • Feeling like your sexual preferences aren't being met can make sex unfulfilling, which over time can feel almost like a chore.
    • The best way to mutually enjoy sex is to communicate to your partner what you like or don't like, and ask your spouse to do the same.
    • Be willing to explore new things together in the bedroom so that you and your partner are both having your needs met. Plus, trying new things in general can lend a spark to your relationship, and you might find you both enjoy your new routine.
    • Being respectful of your partner's needs doesn't mean putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. It's okay to have boundaries and to expect your partner to respect those boundaries.
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    Consider seeing a couple's therapist. Some people have the impression that couple's therapy is only for people who are on the verge of divorce. However, that is simply not true. Couple's therapy can help you and your spouse work on communication skills, find ways to feel more intimate, and work through any difficulties that arise in your marriage.[15]
    • There's no shame or stigma in seeing a therapist. Couple's therapy can help you and your partner at any stage of your relationship.
    • If you or your partner experience little to no sex drive after previously having a sex drive, your therapist may refer you to your primary physician to see if there are any medical explanations.
    • Sometimes certain medications can reduce sexual urges or the ability to perform sexually. Other times there may be an emotional reason why a person's sex drive decreases.
    • Be honest and open with your therapist and with your doctor to address any intimacy issues you're experiencing.

Part 3
Strengthening Your Marital Bonds

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    Express gratitude for the little things. A big risk in long-term relationships is taking one another for granted. No matter how much you love and appreciate your spouse, there's always a risk that you might get so accustomed to one another that you forget to be grateful for all that your partner does. If you make an effort to express gratitude, your partner will almost certainly do the same.[16]
    • Say thank you when your spouse does something for you, whether it's cooking a meal, fixing a broken cabinet, or just picking something up for you at the store.
    • Letting your partner know that you appreciate the little things will make your spouse feel appreciated, and your partner will be more likely to continue doing nice things for you (and vice versa) in the future.
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    Take the time to notice your partner. Another facet of taking your partner for granted is forgetting to compliment one another. You may think that your partner knows you love him or her, and that may be true. But nothing brings a smile to your face like hearing that someone finds you attractive and desirable, so work to make one another feel special as often as possible.[17]
    • It doesn't take much to notice your partner. Compliment your spouse on an attractive outfit, a recent haircut, any developments after beginning a new workout routine, and so on.
    • Try to praise your partner for his/her efforts in front of others. Bragging about your spouse's accomplishments when he or she is too shy to can really make your spouse feel loved.[18]
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    Go on a date with your spouse. As your relationship goes on, you might find that it's harder to make time for a date, or to go out and have a romantic evening alone. This can be particularly troublesome if you have children. But having regular date nights spent alone with your spouse can bring back the excitement and the passion that you felt for one another when you were actually dating, and that passion is important in sustaining a long-term marriage.
    • Commit to spending the night alone together. Get a babysitter for your kids, or have them sleep over at a friend's house.
    • Choose a romantic restaurant. If you have a favorite place to go or if you can recreate your first date, even better.
    • Get dressed up for one another. Try to impress your spouse as though you were still just dating and not yet married.
    • Take a romantic walk after dinner, or go see a show together. Focus on making it an intimate evening alone together.
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    Make sure you feel fulfilled. In addition to feeling your sexual needs are fulfilled, it's imperative that you feel like your life has meaning and that you've accomplished something. It may come as a surprise, but experts agree that having your own personal goals and accomplishments separate from your spouse can actually strengthen your marriage.[19]
    • When you feel like your own personal goals are being fulfilled, it's easier to devote yourself to your partner.
    • If you're very career-driven, take time for your career. If you're an artist, work on your art. If you're athletic, train for a marathon.[20]
    • No matter what your partner's goals and accomplishments are, it's important for you to have your own goals. You and your spouse should be supportive of one another, and should celebrate each other's accomplishments.


  • Always show affection. Kiss or hug one another and tell your spouse that you love him or her.
  • Respect your partner. Never do anything to betray your spouse's trust, like lying or cheating on them.
  • If you feel jealous, don't make a scene. Talk in private with your significant other, and make sure to say something like: "Look, you know I love you and I trust you, but I can't help it and I do feel jealous of you and that other person. I'm sorry for it". Your significant other should understand and explain the situation so that you won't feel jealous anymore.
  • Go out together. Have a date, whether it's at a fancy restaurant or a hot dog stand. The important thing is that you make time to go out together and talk with one another.
  • Be nice to your partner's friends, and try to socialize with them a little. Every time you see them, say hi and talk a bit. Friendship is probably important to your spouse, so getting to know his or her friends will go a long way in strengthening your relationship.

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