The new year is a here. Let this be the year that you rebuild your marriage, creating a healthy and happy future for both of you and learning to enjoy each other once again.
Dr. Neill Neill is a marriage counselor and therapist who has an excellent article on his website titled, “5 Rules for Rebuilding Your Marriage.” Although much of his work is focused on marriages troubled by alcoholism, his five rules are appropriate and excellent for any marriage that needs help.
1. Drop the rightness.
Make a conscious choice to have a relationship rather than to be right–terminal rightness kills marriages.”
As the old saying goes, would you rather be right or happy?
2. Call a time out.
Dr. Neill suggests that couples rate their emotions from zero to ten, with ten being the highest level of emotion. Make an agreement that if either partner reaches a level past three, that either one of you can call a time out. This may mean a lot of unfinished conversations, but the ones you do have will be more productive and less hurtful.
3. Say how you feel.
In a conflict, it’s easy to bury the feelings you’re experiencing. However, it’s important to both of you that you voice these feelings. But do so in a non-confrontational way. Say “I’m lonely”, not “You make me feel lonely.”
4. Leave the past in the past.
Whatever your parents did to you, whatever happened earlier in your marriage relationship and whatever blow-up you had yesterday are in the past. Never refer to them in a way that justifies or blames. All that matters is the present and the future you are attempting to build.”
Dr. Neill goes on to explain that leaving the past in the past includes not assuming that you know what your partner will do or using statements like “you always” or “you never.”
5. Get to know your partner.
Everyone grows and changes over time. If you have been in conflict for any length of time, the chances are each of you is reacting to how the other was, not is. You will be totally out of touch with who your partner is today.”
It’s a new year. With it comes a new opportunity to create a better, happier and more fulfilling marriage. Try Dr. Neill’s five suggestions and you may be surprised at the effect of simple steps.
Take little steps like holding hands while watching a television program together or going for a 15 minute walk. Be curious about who you are with. The periods of connection will grow and become more frequent.