You're madly in love at the beginning of your marriage and are certain that you will be together forever. Then things slowly change. One day, you realize that your marriage may be in trouble. You don't feel as close to your wife as you did before. She doesn't seem that thrilled to see you anymore. Sex isn't as frequent or satisfying.
Your wedding vows include a lifelong commitment to your wife for life, but only about half of first marriages last for 20 years or more.
Is your marriage doomed? Not necessarily. It takes both of you to get your marriage back on track, but as long as your wife does her part, there are some things you can do to save your marriage.
Put your wife before your buddies.
Before you get married, it's okay to put your buddies first before marriage. You can shoot some hoops on weekends, grab a beer after work and dedicate Sunday afternoons to watching football on TV. That changes after marriage. If you haven't started putting your wife before your buddies, you'd better start now if you want your marriage to last.
You don't need to drop your guy friends altogether. Talk about the situation with your wife to try to find a compromise. If the problem is Sunday football, for example, you may be able to make her happy just by limiting the games that you watch with your friends to every other Sunday during the season.
Another possible solution is to include your wife in your activities. Invite her to watch the game with you and your buddies, and be nice about it. Explain the game to her, keeping in mind that unlike you, who grew up playing and watching football, she doesn't have decades of experience watching the sport. Once you patiently explain how it works, she might enjoy it with you.
Give her space.
Everyone needs a certain amount of space, and your wife may need a bit more. When you see that she's not "busy," don't automatically assume that she needs your attention. She may need the opposite.
Even when she is at home and not occupied with chores, the children or her friends, she may not want to talk to you. Maybe you get your alone time during your daily commute or when you hang out in the garage. Your wife may need time to think her own thoughts, too. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and she may need even more time than you.
Give her the space she needs at home by making sure there is somewhere for her to be. It may be the kitchen if cooking is her therapy, or it could be the garden or a favorite armchair. When she's in her own place, don't disturb her. She'll come to you when she's ready, and she'll appreciate the time you gave her to regroup.
This seems obvious, but you may not be doing a good job.
Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D., a therapist and life coach explained,
We humans are built for connection. We're all desperate for connection. Sometimes we feel like there's no way to reconnect, but the other person is just as desperate for that connection. When we change our approach they're most likely to be magnetic to that connection because they're already primed for it, already waiting for a chance for connection.
Make sure that you share your feelings with your wife so that she doesn't have to guess. Also, be a good listener so that you can continue to grow closer to your wife. If you don't know how to communicate, start by asking your wife what you can do better. That way, she'll see that you're genuinely interested in improving.
Compliment her often.
It's far too easy to stop complimenting your wife when your wedding starts to feel distant, but chances are that you've kept up the criticisms. If the compliments have stopped, it's time to reset and start them up again. Making an effort to compliment her helps you remember what you love about your wife, and helps her realize how much you love and appreciate her.
How many times have you thought about how lovely her hair looks or how she is so patient with the children, but you forgot to say it out loud? Increase the number of compliments you give by practicing saying positive things instead of just thinking them.
Another strategy to make sure that you pay her enough compliments is to make sure you give her at least one a day. If you can't think of one compliment, your marriage may be in pretty bad shape.
Your wife is undoubtedly partly to blame, but you can do your part to take responsibility for your marital problems. Help out with the children, household chores, cooking and washing up after meals.
Also take charge of yourself. Are you being the best husband that you can be? If not, you may be feeling guilty and taking it out on your wife as anger.
A relationship is like a dance. You've learned this dance over the years. You get into a rut of doing the same dance steps and sometimes the dance steps are no longer fun, no longer working right. Part of the opportunity is if you lead correctly you can change the dance steps. This particularly plays well for the men. You lead correctly you can change the dance steps and the other person gets to change their dance steps. You change the dance that you two were doing.
Finally, take responsibility for your actions; you're past the time in your life when risky behaviors such as drinking excessively and driving over the speed limit are acceptable.
Part of being a grown-up is thinking about others' feelings. Think about what she needs. When you come home in a bad mood after work and get angry if dinner's not on the table, maybe instead you could consider that dinner may not be on the table because your wife has had a hard day, too. Ask what you can do to help.
Don't panic if you have started to feel that your marriage is not as strong as it used to be. There are plenty of things you can do to try to save your marriage. Keeping the lines of communication open and showing your wife how much you love and trust her can go a long way in regaining the spark that you felt when your marriage was young.