What bad relationship habits can you quit this year to improve your marriage?
Today, Family Institute postdoctoral fellow Shiahna Chavis, PhD, shares her couples therapy expertise on how couples can change their habits to imporove their relationships.
Am I suggesting that you get a divorce? No — when I say quit, I mean stop doing the same behaviors that are tearing your marriage down instead of building it up.
The truth is you will NEVER be completely free of marital problems. Complete freedom from marital problems is only possible when you have two perfect people in the relationship. Therefore, you must be so tired of your marital problems that you are ready to quit doing those behaviors that work against your marriage, regardless of what your spouse is or is not doing. In the words of Ghandi, be the change that you would like to see. Changing what you do will create a different pattern of interaction and elicit a different response from your spouse.
So, what do you need to quit doing?
- Quit taking your spouse for granted. How do you show your spouse that you love and appreciate him/her? Actions speak louder than words! If you don’t recognize your spouse’s value, someone else will.
- Quit being negative. Stop always complaining about what your spouse is or is not. Words have power so use your words to build your spouse up instead of tearing him/her down. He/she will act according to how you treat him/her.
- Quit focusing on everything that is wrong with your spouse. What we choose to focus on influences how we feel and behave. Therefore, focus on what your spouse does well. Choosing to focus on what is right reconfirms what initially attracted you to him/her.
- Quit expecting your spouse to “just know.” There’s a saying that closed mouths don’t get fed, meaning you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Make your wants and needs clear to your spouse and set them up for success in meeting your desires.
- Quit expecting your spouse to be just like you. We are products of our experiences. So just because the two of you have a lot in common does not mean that your spouse will do things just as you would. Have more appreciation for the person he/she is and allow your differences to complement each other.
- Quit looking back and begin looking forward. Leave the past in the past where it belongs and look forward to building a successful future. Your presence in the marriage is an indicator that you are moving forward with your spouse so if there is an unresolved issue preventing you from moving on, address it. Seek professional help if needed.
Dr. Chavis received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in working with couples and utilizing interventions that promote intimacy and increase marital satisfaction, and is receiving advanced training in couples therapy through her fellowship at The Family Institute. To learn more about the Institute’s couples therapy services or to make an appointment, visit our website.