Here are eight tips to get you beyond the hard moments of the journey and to escort you in the direction of love and connection. If you do two of them, it will make a difference in your relationship
Be a mystery. It's comfortable when two people know absolutely everything about each other, but it's not a recipe for romance. Develop a new passion outside the relationship. Get your blip off his radar screen—not in a cold way, but in an "I have my own separate life" way. The more passion you have for life outside the relationship, the more opportunity to rediscover love within it.
Stop the pursuit. If you're the one pursuing a distant partner, call off the chase. When you want more connection, suggest an activity, like a movie, restaurant or a walk. Instead of communicating about communication—talking about how you don't talk—just try talking.
Take the one a day challenge. The habit of criticism is hazardous to any relationship. No one can survive in a marriage (at least not happily) if they feel more judged than admired. Limit yourself to one criticism a day, and say it in three sentences or less. Make sure positive comments outnumber negative ones by a healthy ratio.
Cut back on advice-giving and little corrections: What matters is not that things get done according to who is right. What matters is that two people are dedicated to contributing to each other's happiness. Give him the space to make mistakes and learn through trial and error, even if you have to leave the room when he's cutting the tomatoes for a salad, or put a snowsuit on your flailing toddler.
Tell him the specifics of what you respect and admire about him. Don't wait until the spirit genuinely moves you to warm your partner's heart or you'll be sending cryptic messages from the other side. Just like we can act courageously when we're afraid, we can focus on the positive even when we’ve lost sight of it. If you can't think of a specific positive thing to comment on, ("You were really funny last night") you've lost perspective.
Stop being so defensive. Defensiveness is automatic and universal. It is also the archenemy of listening, which is perhaps the single most important thing in any long term relationship. Be curious about your partner's experience, and aim for whole-hearted listening. Many marriages would be saved if we would only listen with the same passion that we feel about wanting to be heard.
Don’t be too busy for your marriage. Couples operate in a time famine. Set aside 20 minutes to “catch up” with your partner, and make it a daily ritual.
Go on Saturday night dates. If there’s a child in the picture, get a regular Saturday night sitter. You may feel too tired to go out, but do it anyway. (Tuesday night works just as well, if that fits). Not to push you, but perhaps it’s best not to wait until your kid is filling out college applications before you realize that you and your husband forgot to go on a date.
There’s excellent guidance and practical advice out there to help you make your marriage work. My favorite user-friendly books are Marriage Rules, Take Back Your Marriage, and We Love Each Other But.
Take advantage of the wisdom and support that’s out there, because it’s difficult to make a change and especially challenging to maintain it over time. With marriage, as with learning a language or establishing an exercise routine, nothing is more important than motivation, commitment and practice.