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5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great

by Maura Banar, studioD

Marriage isn't always easy but it should be mutually fulfilling. Familiarity may not breed contempt but it can, at times, lead to monotony that can tear at the fabric of your marriage. In addition, increasing demands and responsibilities that include children, aging parents, careers and establishing a more permanent home can divert your attention from the work of a marriage. Improving your conflict resolution and negotiation skills along with learning to work together through change and conflict can elevate your good marriage to the point of greatness.

Talk less and listen more. Communication is one of the primary keys to conflict resolution, negotiation and handling change. Although you and your spouse likely already have a level of communication that has proven successful in your marriage, becoming a more adept listener can make a good marriage great. Become less concerned about what you have to say but don't put it completely aside, advises marriage therapist Dr. Tim Gardner in his online publication "Improving Communication in Your Marriage."

Implement affective affirmation to reinforce the behaviors you would like to continue in your marriage. Affective affirmation, explains psychologist Terri Orbuch, whose research is outlined in the online publication "5 Steps to a Successful Marriage," allows you to identify why you value your spouse and the marriage. Avoid taking things for granted by frequently expressing your love and gratitude for your spouse. Without small tokens of appreciation, your spouse may begin to feel undervalued.

Keep the imbalance. The healthiest marriages, explains Dr. Orbuch, have an imbalanced ratio of five positive feelings or experiences to a single negative one. Unrealistic? Dr. Orbuch says no and suggests that couples take regular inventory of their ratio. Work with your spouse to meet or exceed the ratio achieved by happy couples.

Resolve conflicts in a win-win way. Conflict is inevitable, but disagreement doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. Monitor your reactions to what your spouse says when you're working on conflict resolution. Your thoughts have a significant impact on your reactions, and your responsive thoughts may not be appropriate to your spouse's behavior. Stop and think before speaking when you and your spouse disagree. The pause to evaluate your reaction can make a difference in how you resolve conflict.

Keep dating. You're married and the honeymoon may be over but the dating doesn't have to end. Spending scheduled time together, in activities you enjoy, can keep the spark in your marriage. Married couples have a tendency to take a negative perspective when problems occur, explains divorce attorney Laurie Israel in the online publication "25 Secrets to a Great Marriage." Marital strife is normal and can be the ideal time to work towards growing closer rather than apart. Enroll in classes together or enjoy learning a new recreational activity that you both might enjoy.

About the Author

Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.

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