Relationships are incredibly nuanced and the specific characteristics of each one are typically dictated by the people involved. Outside of the legal definition, marriage is a complex social and personal construct in which two people who love and care about each other deeply, but have different personalities, sensitivities, and world views, choose to spend the rest of their lives together. Of course, you and your spouse certainly share a number of common interests that brought the two of you together, but sometimes we can subconsciously fall into negative habits that are destructive to the integrity of our relationships. Engaging in marriage counselling services can help us recognize these potentially damaging behaviours in ourselves and our spouses while also figuring out ways to curtail their overall effects.

If you feel like your marriage has fallen into a deep rut, there are several small changes you can make to improve the situation for you and your spouse.

The Many Stages of a Healthy and Happy Marriage

Like everything else in life, marriages evolve over time as both spouses continue to grow and learn new things about themselves, their partners, and the world around them. As we grow older, our perceptions of the world around us change, sometimes for better or worse. This is a natural progression as we continue to accumulate more life experiences. Your marriage is exactly the same way. Regardless of what you and your partner are going through—whether it’s good times or “bad”—you’ve made a commitment to endure it together. Sometimes that works out for the best and sometimes it doesn’t. One thing you should always keep in mind from the very beginning, even before getting married, is that relationships of all kinds take a lot of hard work to maintain and grow.

Marriage can be especially taxing at times because you’re living with the person and will likely have to see them frequently depending on your individual schedules. In some cases, it’s not seeing your spouse enough that can place a great deal of pressure on a marriage. Consequently, marriages go through a number of milestones. The stages of marriage include:

The Initial Honeymoon Phase

This is a period of romantic bliss in which everything is still fresh and new. Newlyweds often see everything through rose-tinted glasses during this phase. The sun is always shining and you feel generally happy just being with the person you love.

Reality Begins Setting In

Eventually, the realities of living with another person begin to set in and you’ll begin to fall into a particular routine. Paying bills, doing chores, working for a living, and struggling to find time for one another are just some of the challenges this stage presents.

The Transformation

Following the disillusionment of the reality stage, you and your partner will finally begin to view one another as dynamic human beings with different characteristics that were once clouded by the rose-tinted glasses of the romantic phase.

Gaining a Sense of Comfort

This post-transformation stage is arguably the one that many couples struggle with the most. Accepting each other’s differences and coming to the realization that your partner has faults while discovering how to navigate such challenges can be very difficult for most. Many marriages don’t survive this stage, but for those that do, it can be very rewarding to gain a sense of comfort and stability in your relationship.

Committing to Commitment

By now, you’ve made a choice to commit to your partner. For better or worse and regardless of what you’ve been through together, you’re in it for the long haul. You know who your partner is and they know exactly who you are, yet you’ve made the conscious choice to continue being married to one another. This commitment to, and acceptance of one another is gratifying, as you’ve stuck together through the difficulties that exist within a relationship.

Small Changes You Can Make That Lead to Marriage Improvement

Marriage is a two-way street, which means that you and your partner both have to put in an equal amount of effort to make it work. While it’s easy to constantly point the finger at the other person when things go wrong, sometimes a little internal self-reflection can be very eye-opening and effective in altering your perspective and making positive changes.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your marriage healthy, alive, and strong even when things get tough.

Be Considerate of Your Partner’s Needs

Even though you and your partner have chosen to spend your lives together, you’re still two very different people with individual, emotional, physical, and psychological needs and sensibilities. Take the time to understand your partner’s perspective on the relationship, what they love about it, and what they feel is lacking. This is a good opportunity for you to open-up about your feelings as well.

Start an Honest Dialogue

On that note, communication is an essential aspect of every relationship. If you and your partner can’t be open and honest with one another, then this should be explored. To facilitate better communication between you and your partner, you can try enrolling in marriage counselling services.

Spend Time Together and Apart

Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes, you need your alone time to recuperate and recharge—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be very refreshing and good for a strong relationship. As much as you should spend plenty of time with your partner, it’s equally important to figure out or remind yourself who you are as an individual.

Reminisce about the Good Times

Talk about the good times you and your partner have shared together. Look at photographs together, laugh at inside jokes, and recall fun experiences you’ve shared. Yes, there will be plenty of hard times throughout your marriage, however, focusing on the positive memories will help keep them alive.