7. Don’t let disappointments turn into resentments.
In an effort to avoid conflict, many of us try to “get over” feelings of anger or disappointment. There is no problem with doing this when we can genuinely and completely let these feelings go. When we can’t, they are likely to turn into resentment and become a toxic presence in our relationship. Telling the truth about difficult feelings in a respectful, non-blaming way can often bring about greater closeness and understanding. Stuffing those feelings often has the opposite effect.
8. Don’t wait too long to get help.
The average couple has already been troubled for six years by the time they begin marriage counselling. By then, it’s likely that manageable difficulties have disintegrated into entrenched patterns. By all means, do everything that you can to handle challenges on your own, but be willing to recognize when your best efforts aren’t doing the trick. When you hit roadblocks that you’re not able to overcome on your own, bring in professional help before issues become entrenched and intractable.
9. Remember to play.
When work and play get out of balance in a marriage, a correction needs to be made. Those times that we think we don’t have a moment to relax and play with each other are exactly when we most need to. It doesn’t require a long tropical vacation to reinvigorate a relationship. Sometimes a short break from a life of ongoing responsibilities can be enough to remind us why we wanted to be together in the first place. Even if it’s just a matter of grabbing a few minutes of downtime between the time that the kids go to sleep and you do, enjoying each other’s company is one of the best forms of relationship insurance that there is.
10. Learn to forgive.
Nothing erodes the foundation of a relationship faster than grudge-holding. It’s a poison that, over time, is highly destructive. Although feelings of disappointment, hurt, or irritation are inevitable in all close relationships, they can dissolve when there is a willingness to forgive and let go of resentment. Forgiveness isn’t a one-time event; it’s a process that occurs gradually and incrementally over time. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it doesn’t even seem possible, but with an intention to heal, steps in the right direction can be taken even in the most strained circumstances. Don’t wait too long to learn to forgive; do it now.
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