As a marriage counselor in Plantation, Florida, one of the things I see so often when I do couples counseling is that people wait much too long to get marital therapy! Sometimes, they’ve been sweeping their relationship problems under the rug for over twenty years, and now they are on the brink of divorce.
It never ceases to amaze me that people wait this long to discuss and resolve things that have been bothering them for years. What I’ve learned in working with couples in counseling is that marital problems don’t disappear on their own. People try to be patient, they focus on raising their children, they brush their problems to the side and hope they’ll eventually go away. Well, they don’t. Just like the dust bunnies under your furniture lead to a dirty house where everybody starts to sneeze and get allergies, sweeping your marital problems under the rug will lead to a sick marriage. And the longer you wait to get marriage counseling, the bigger the task becomes.
So ask yourself: Does your marriage need a spring cleaning? Have you been ignoring problems? I’ll be you have (most of us do)! That means, now is a good time to start couples counseling.
Until then, here are 3 tips to start improving your marriage right away!
Tips to Improve Your Marriage
1) Focus on You – The right way!
Most people tend to be pretty self-absorbed. We don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. We spend most of our time in relationships thinking about what we want, what we feel, what we’re disappointed in, what we wish was different, etc. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it leads us to perceive ourselves as victims (of our spouses inattentiveness, lack of consideration….), instead of perceiving ourselves as agents of change.
Just with this first tip, you can dramatically improve your marriage! I want you to shift your perspective, and instead of thinking about how you have been wronged, make a list of how you have wronged your spouse: Do you greet him/her every day with a smile and a cheer? Do you participate in activities they love but that you don’t care for? Do you speak to them in a way that communicates you think they are smart and have good ideas? Make your list, and start changing those bad habits in YOU.
2) Give a Compliment!
Remember, compliments have expiration dates. Every day, find one thing that you really admire and appreciate about your spouse, and tell them! Do this every day for 3 weeks. Set a reminder on your phone if you have to. It will help you turn this assignment into a habit.
3) Make Yourself Sexy Again
Remember when you first started dating your spouse? You took a little time to put yourself together and look sexy. You wanted this person to like you. You showered, put on some perfume or cologne, picked out some flattering clothes, and off you went on your date. Plus, on the date, you probably bit your tongue a bit more, and did more smiling and laughing. Try that now! It’ll work.
These tips can help improve your marriage. Be mindful of putting in this kind of effort if you are in marriage counseling or couples therapy as well! Here’s why: often, when people enter into marital therapy, they begin focusing most of their attention on 1) the problems in the relationship, and 2) their partner’s role in those problems. And while it’s important to work through the problems with the help of a qualified relationship counselor, it’s equally important to balance that out with bringing some positivity back into the marriage. Just like when you are spring cleaning your house: you get rid of the dirt, but also open the windows to let in the fresh air!
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Dr. Chantal Gagnon
Dr. Chantal Marie Gagnon, Ph.D., LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship counselor, and life coach in Plantation, Florida. Dr. Gagnon provides individual therapy, family counseling services, and couples therapy in her Plantation, FL office. Coaching services are available nationwide.
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