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Here’s what I’ve learned about marriage over the last decade: it’s not easy.

Here’s what I’ve ALSO learned about marriage over the last decade: it CAN be fun, fulfilling, and AWESOME.

But hands down, you’ve GOT to be willing to work for it.

Over the last ten years, my husband and I have had to learn how to parent together, effectively live together, work together and most importantly — BE HAPPY together.

We’ve always sought help from marriage therapists because we both admit that we aren’t skilled professionals when it comes to knowing ALL THE THINGS about marriage (although it feels like we are getting close). So, while we’ve heard a lot of bad advice given to ourselves and others over the years, we have learned a set of foundational principles and concepts that we leverage to keep our marriage on the up and up.

Stop Trying To FIX Everything

When we’re struggling in our marriage, we have a tendency to want to FIX things, but more often than not, we’re focused on all the wrong things to “fix”. And most likely, there aren’t things that need to be fixed, but rather things that need to be communicated, heard and understood.

When it comes to communication, I can confidently guarantee that any couple that’s have challenges is having issues with their communication. Whether it’s a break in communication, miscommunication, lack of communication or the wrong type of communication — this is the MOST important skill you’ll need to hone in on if you really want to amplify your relationship. If you’re wondering why communication is the answer… it’s because without proper communication, how are we supposed to articulate our needs, desires and expectations appropriately? And if we aren’t communicating those, they most likely aren’t being met. And if our needs, desires and expectations aren’t being met, we are left feeling angry, frustrated and disappointed.

So next time you and your spouse are trying to “fix” something, try taking a step back and level-setting with one another. At the most basic level, share your needs, desires and expectations and ask each these two questions;

Are these needs, desires and expectations reasonable?

Are these needs, desires and expectations clear?

Have More Sex

I know. Most women really don’t like to hear this. But it’s true. More sex (GOOD sex) is the answer. Intimacy is KEY. And the way men connect with their wives is via that language. I get it, though. At the end of the night, after you’ve been juggling ALL THE THINGS, the LAST thing you want to do is get naked with your spouse, BUT it’s important to keep in mind that men have a time clock, and that time clock needs to be reset every three(ish) days. There are studies that show that for men, sex is a release, and with pent-up tension, men have difficulty thinking, hearing and doing things that require mental and physician coordination. So basically, the more sex you have, the more you’re setting your husband up for SUCCESS in a relationship.

It’s obviously a two-way street, though. Women aren’t necessarily eager to hop in bed for “nothing”. Women desire the romance and emotional connection, so there has to be a happy medium where both forms of intimacy are being met. Try making sex fun, a little spontaneous and adding in foreplay wherever possible. Don’t get caught into thinking that sex has to only happen at night, either. Have you ever considered a nooner? 🙂

Focus On You

If you’re constantly pointing your finger at him, turn that right around and look within. The quickest way to an unhappy marriage is focusing on everything that he’s doing wrong and telling ourselves that “our marriage will be awesome once {insert future circumstances}”. Consider these things;

What are things that YOU could change today that would improve your relationship?

How do YOU want to show up for him, regardless of how he’s showing up?

What are things YOU could do to make sure he feels appreciated, loved and understood?

What’s great about this way of operating, is it gives us 100% control. You don’t have to rely on anyone to be the spouse you want to be. It’s 100% dependent on you.

So there you have it, the three non-traditional tips to improving your marriage — which you can immediately start implementing TODAY. I know it can feel challenging and frustrating at times, but this is the relationship that matters MOST (other than the one you have with yourself) so it does require focused time and energy. Start doing the work NOW and know that you CAN come out on the other side.