If your relationship is in trouble and you want to stay together, you have to take action. Doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t is a great place to begin the process. Here are ten things that many couples who have endured difficult times and emerged stronger have done.
1. Go to therapy. Seems obvious coming from a marriage counselor, but many couples think that if they can’t work it out themselves, the relationship isn’t right in the first place. Wrong. Few people can be objective about their own relationships and behaviors. Talk with a trained and objective third party.
2. Do more together. That includes waking up and going to bed together, eating together, talking together, watching television, NOT watching TV. You know what I'm saying. It will help you to get it together and keep it together.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words. Keeping your partner’s picture on your desk, wallet, or computer lets him or her know that you think of your love throughout the day. Doing this seemingly small thing is very reaffirming.
4. Dance the night away. Even if you have two left feet, just holding your partner and swaying to the music can be romantic and bonding. If you can’t get out, your living room will make a fine dance floor. You can also watch “Dancing with the Stars” together and pick up a few new moves.
5. Do the new. Doing new things together releases oxytocin in the brain, which is one of the chemicals that makes us feel connected. We feel all atwitter when a relationship is fresh, the trick is to find ways to keep the twittering alive, and I don't mean online.
6. Make love. For those in sex-starved relationships, the bond can be badly damaged. Touch is one of the most nurturing forces in the universe, and if you don’t want your partner to touch you, you have to take a look at this issue and do something to change things.
7. Travel together. Whether it’s a day trip to the lake or a month in Europe, traveling helps you build memories that you can treasure forever. It can also help you forget the painful past or at least put it in perspective.
8. Connect every day. Don’t go even a day without speaking to your mate. Find some way to touch base, and each other, daily. The more, the better. And don't forget that ten second hug & kiss when you walk in the door at the end of the day.
9. Proclaim your love. Not saying “I love you” is just not okay. The words don’t cost you a thing and withholding them speaks volumes. If you hate saying "ILY" then create a code like Patrick Swazey's character did in the film Ghost. Remember "Ditto"?
10. Talk about everything. Keeping secrets or not sharing what’s in your head and heart will make your partner feel distant, and you won’t get the real benefit of a shared life. Speak up and express your feelings.
Using these techniques can help you heal everything from infidelity to in-law issues. But if you don’t take some action, whatever your issue is, it will only get bigger and harder to heal.