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You Can Regain That Spark and Improve Your Marriage

Improve Your Marriage

Question: My husband and I have an okay relationship, but I would like to make it better. We have been married 35 years. While we get along most of the time, we seem to have grown apart. Is there anything we can do to get closer to each other?

-estranged

You Can Regain that Spark and Improve your Marriage

Dear Estranged,

Often when we have been in a relationship for a while, we seem to lose that special spark that drew us together in the first place. Initially, it may be the responsibilities of work that draw us apart. Thoughts of our workday can occupy our evenings and private time as well. Then, when children come along, they become the focus of our existence. Finally, the children leave home and we are left with our partner with whom we were once close, only to find that we have nothing to say to each other.

While this is a common problem, the good news is, there is a remedy. It will simply take a bit of time and attention on your part. You will want to start by focusing on the qualities that drew you together in the first place, and then make these qualities a larger part of your relationship. This will highlight the things you have in common, give you more to talk about and bring you closer together like when your relationship was new. Here are a few suggestions to help re-discover that closeness that you used to share.

Make Time for Each Other

It is impossible to be close with someone with whom you never spend time. For you and your husband to become closer, it is important to spend time together. Make your relationship a priority. Do things together, even the mundane activities. When he is out working on the car, sit with him for a while. Run errands together. Ask him to accompany you on your walks. Then make an effort to interact with each other. Ask about his day and tell him about yours. In this way, your closeness can grow.

Express Appreciation

Nothing will bring you closer faster than a sincere, unexpected, “Thank you.”

In the course of our lives, it is easy to take for granted the kindnesses of those closest to us. However, every-one likes to be appreciated, even for the small things they do every day. One easy way to improve a relationship is to express appreciation, kindly and sincerely, for the simple things your spouse does every day. This includes things such as starting your car when it is cold out, making coffee in the morning or spending the day behind the wheel of an RV. Nothing will bring you closer faster than a sincere, unexpected, “Thank you.”

Reach Out to Each Other

The longer we have been in a relationship with someone, the easier it is to assume we know everything about them and to stop seeking new information. Get in the habit of asking your husband open-ended questions that will give you more information about him; things you may not have thought to ask in the past, or in a long time. A few questions to get you started include:

  • If you could live anywhere in the world but where we live, where would it be and why?
  • If you could have been born into another time, when would you like to have been born?
  • If you were to come back as an animal, what would it be?

These questions may sound silly, but they will give you a great deal of information about your husband’s thinking, as well as a good bit about his dreams and desires. What better way to get close? And, while you’re at it, think about your own responses and share them with him.

On another note, it does not matter what you talk about, as long as it is not your usual topics of conversation: traffic, work, children and grandchildren. You know the drill. I worked with one couple who, at my suggestion, to break the pattern of arguing about their conflicts and talking about their children, renewed their relationship and interest in each other with a dinner conversation about tree frogs. They needed a neutral topic of conversation to discuss on a date night to avoid old patterns, so I suggested they each research tree frogs, a topic about which neither had much information, over the two days prior to the dinner. They had a wonderful time and found themselves laughing as much as talking during the meal; something neither had been doing much of prior to that night. They decided to choose a new unfamiliar topic for their date night each week and grew closer while discussing the most unusual subjects!

Tree Frogs

Plan new adventures to share after being in a relationship for a time, it is easy to get set in your ways and predictable in how you enjoy your free time. In your exploratory conversations, you might find there are new things you want to try and new places you want to go.

Spend time planning these adventures together. It is a sure way to remove the boredom from your relationship and add new excitement to your days.

Celebrate Together

One task that I routinely give to couples wanting to renew their relationship is to have a date night each week; a time to simply enjoy each other’s company as a refuge from the stresses and strains of everyday life. It is a wonderful way to renew the closeness that they desire.

Set a date night each week and take turns planning where you will go and what you will do. The non-planner should be a good sport and play along, even if the activity is not one they would choose for themselves. This may be an opportunity for them to discover an interest in a new activity.

Finally, be sure to celebrate the good things in your life, such as promotions, anniversaries or even the end of the workweek or the arrival at a new destination. It is only by taking the time to appreciate these small moments that we can give them meaning and make good memories of them.

Couple together on the beach

It is not unusual for couples to drift apart as the years go by.

However, that has more to do with a lack of focus on the relationship, an accumulation of the stresses of daily living and taking the relationship for granted, than with a lack of true feeling in the relationship. The ideas I have offered can be used to re-develop the closeness that you seek. Before you know it, you just might be feeling like young lovers once again.

Diane Berry

Author

Diane M. Berry

Diane is a therapist in private practice who works extensively with clients on stress management and relationship issues. She and her family are also avid RVers. Her articles are meant to provide information of a general nature and are not intended as specific psychological advice or to take the place of consulting with a health care professional.

One Response to “You Can Regain That Spark and Improve Your Marriage

  • Stacy Young
    2 months ago

    What a great article!! My hubby and I returned home today from our very first RV staycation and LOVED it. We plan to make RV’g a regular part of our life as we grow older and hopefully closer together. The close quarters, shared responsibilities, and removal of outside influences, i.e., WiFi, Television, cellular service, were instrumental in creating that closeness. In the word of Dr. Laura, I am grateful to still be my husband’s girlfriend.

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