Do you find yourself in a marriage where you love your spouse, but privately and deep down inside, you don’t necessarily like him or her very much anymore?
If you answered “yes” know that you are not alone. According to a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, just shy of 60% of married couples reported being very happy in their marriage. That number dropped from 65% from just two years earlier. The study cites several factors contributing to marital unhappiness including, a sex life with diminishing returns, preoccupation with technology, and men taking their women for granted when it comes to domestic responsibilities.
With about 50% of folks getting divorced these days overall, and 41% for those from first marriages, being in an unhappy marriage is no laughing matter. Here are 9 tips you can use to help you to like your spouse again.
Share home and family responsibilities. Regardless of who the bread winner is, or whether or not one or both of you work outside of the home, divvying up household responsibilities will go a long way for both you and your spouse to feel appreciated, cared for and respected as a partners.
Don’t over focus your time on your children. I suppose if your child and spouse were hanging from a cliff by their finger tips and you could only pull up and save one of them, of course you would save your child, but how many cliff moments are there in life? So, stop doing things for your kids all of the time and do some kind deeds for your spouse and spend more quality time together. As parents our children mean a lot to us, but they shouldn’t always come first.
Don’t let yourself go. Taking care of yourself and taking pride in your appearance is a respectful thing to do for yourself and your partner. It’s one thing to have a drink or two or a sweet treat from time to time, but it’s entirely another thing to overindulge in alcohol or food.
Remember that your career represents only a part of your life. If you find yourself feeling more comfortable at the office than at home, it’s time to rethink your work-life balance and priorities – your family time, health, leisure time, spiritual development and personal wellbeing should be just as important to you as your work.
Prioritize time together. While it’s healthy to have some alone time in a marriage, doing things separately too often can become problematic. Plan a regular “date night” and make time together a priority to help foster closeness and intimacy with your spouse. I also recommend bonding around the less meaningful moments in life – hitting Costco or running other sorts of errands together isn’t necessarily romantic, but it can be positive time as a couple.
Share a hobby or goal. Finding a common activity or goal you can do together can also increase your bond as a couple. Golfing together, losing weight together, training for a 5K together, setting a savings goal, are just a few ideas to consider to increase the enjoyment in your shared time and the satisfaction in achieving a shared objective.
Put your phone down. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it can interfere in your important relationships if you’re not careful. Research has shown that fifty percent of spouses have reported fighting on vacation because their spouse can’t disconnect from their technology. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, so put your phones and devices down and be in the moment with your partner.
Don’t forget your sex life. Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that the happiest married couples have sex once a week. It’s important to remember though that while sex is an important ingredient for intimacy, it’s not everything. Showing genuine interest in your spouse and being loving to one another will serve to deepen the emotional intimacy in your marriage.
Communicate. It takes two to make a marriage work, so if you feel that your needs aren’t being met, communicate your feelings. If that doesn’t work, consider getting some professional help. A therapist can help you work out your communication problems and guide you back to happiness.
So, if you feel your marriage isn’t what it once was and you find yourself disliking things about your spouse, be proactive and take steps to fix it.
Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder and director of Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services. He has been featured as a mental-health expert on CNN, Good Morning America, and other popular media outlets. Dr. Oberschneider has also received Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top Therapist” honor for his work with children and adolescents. He lives in Leesburg, Virginia, with his wife Liz and two children, Ava and Otto.