Choosing to renew a marriage after two years of separation is remarkable. In order to improve your chances for success you both need to put forth the work necessary to improve the relationship. No doubt, it will include reflection, communication and negotiating, but be sure to add in a dose of fun, as well.
1. Date Night
Go out on a date once a week -- at least. Actively pursuing one another is a vital ingredient to keep any marriage working. The element of romance is necessary for a healthy relationship to last. Go to the movies, dinner, winery, a play, sporting event, amusement park, walk in the park or take a train ride. Find an activity both of you will enjoy. Preparing for date night is part of the romance, as well. Kick it up a notch by wearing something that invites romance. Get a new hair-do or add some flare to your make-up routine. Be sure the activity allows time to connect, free of children and distractions. Secure a babysitter and leave non-emergency phone calls and emails for another time. Guard this time in your weekly schedule, it is not to be sacrificed.
Brush up on your communication skills. Try rephrasing your words, altering how you speak to one another or even when your speak to one another. It is best to make eye contact and to sit across from one another when communicating to each other. Avoid having conversations when one of you is distracted already. Using what are called "I statements" can improve communication. For example, if you were to say, "I feel hurt when you speak sharply; I need you to use a softer tone of voice. Another example is if you said, "I feel angry when you ignore me; I need you to give me your full attention when I am talking to you.”
3. Active Listening
Listen to one another. Listening is an active exercise and includes noticing tone of voice, body language, facial expressions and the meaning of the words. A good exercise to try is what is called "active listening." It includes observing all the elements mentioned above and then repeating back what your partner said. You would start by saying "I heard you say --." The point of this is not to repeat verbatim, but to convey the message. Then ask, "Did I hear you right?" This gives your partner the opportunity to indicate whether you did hear them or if there are any miscommunications. Up to this point, you are not adding in your own thoughts on what was communicated. You are simply reflecting back what you heard like a mirror simply reflects what is in front of it. Once your partner indicates you heard them, then you can respond to what was said, followed by your partner repeating back to you what they heard you say. This slows down the communication process and trains each participant to actively listen before responding.
Find a therapist. Therapy can be rather beneficial in renewing a marriage. Having a therapist involved in resolving past hurts and improving your relationship can be a profitable experience. Therapy can be a means of accomplishing your relational goals, learning communication skills, resolving conflict, fosters honesty and allows for addressing underlying issues in the marriage. You will likely pick up some very useful tools to improve not only your marriage, but also relationships with friends, family, work and neighbors.
- HelpGuide: Relationship Help: Advice for Building Relationships that are Healthy, Happy and Satisfying
- HelpGuide: Effective Communication: Improving Communication in Business and Relationships
- HelpGuide: Conflict Resolution Skills: Building the Skills that can turn Conflicts into Opportunities
- HelpGuide: Finding a Therapist: Getting the best out of Therapy and Counseling
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