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We are a few months shy of our 10 year anniversary. 10 years y’all! In those 10 years our marriage has seen many times of ups and downs. Some downs are lower than others just like some of the ups are higher than others too. All marriages have those periods of hilltops and valleys and while it’s easy to say you’re going to always strive for the hilltops, valleys WILL and DO happen. Mine and my husband’s goal for the times of valleys is to keep them as shallow and narrow as possible. And each time we hit a wider, deeper valley we want to get back on that upward climb having grown closer together through the lessons they valley time taught us. Rough times are times for growth (both personal and in our relationship) and by working through those tough times together, we’re able to have taller and wider hilltop times!
Find yourself in a marriage valley? Here are some the ways we personally work to get out of a marriage rut:
1. Apologize First: Whew. It’s HARD to swallow down that pride and apologize. Especially when you “know” that you’re in the right. It’s all his fault. He should be apologizing to me. What in the world do I have to apologize for? Sit back. Take a breather. Look at YOURSELF. It’s easy to pick apart our spouse and focus on all their shortcomings. But we all have our own as well. So think about those a bit. I bet you can find something you’ve said or done that could merit a heartfelt apology. By being the first to (sincerely guys!) apologize, you open the door for communication and you make it easier for your spouse to also self-reflect and apologize as well.
2. Break The Cycle: Typically relationships get stuck in a cycle. For example, your husband is frustrated with lack of intimacy. So he stops helping out around the house as much due to his frustration. His lack of helping around the house causes you to begin to withhold intimacy. You’re frustrated and annoyed and don’t feel like giving him what he wants when you’re not getting what you want. Hence a circle that just continues and continues and continues until someone finally breaks it. An EXCELLENT book all about this topic (which is our personal favorite marriage-help book) is Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs. Figure out what is going on that is causing a cycle in your relationship. Maybe it’s even the exact example above! Make a mental plan of action to put on something sexy and be intimate with your husband: even if he doesn’t “deserve it.” By being the one to break the cycle it will then create a more positive one that benefits you both and creates a happier marriage environment. He has the intimacy he’s been longing for, he’s then happier and content and eager to help around the house, you feel appreciated and less tired since you’re not having to do as much and then desire more intimate time together! Hello happy cycle!!!
3. Prioritize Together Time: When you’re in a valley you are pretty much annoyed with your spouses existence and the last thing you feel like doing it spending quality time together. But this is a time where it can benefit you the most! Getting away from the kids and the responsibilities of home life can really allow you to break down those walls and remember how much FUN you have together! Plan a date night. Go on a little day trip together. Even just put the kids to bed early and have a romantic candlelight dinner at your own kitchen table. Quality time as a couple is CRUCIAL. It’s an easy thing to let slip, especially in our busy, over-scheduled lives. So look at your calendars together and pick a night where you’re both committed to quality time together! And then make sure it’s a regular occurrence! Here are some of the ways Zach and I keep the focus on our marriage.
4. Know Their Love Language: Knowing your own and your spouses love language is so important! It helps you to REALLY understand them on a whole new level and understand how you can best show you love them in a way they will best accept it. You could be the QUEEN of writing little love notes in your husbands lunch every day. But if his love language isn’t words of affirmation then it won’t have as much meaning to him because it’s not the way he best feels loved. Often when my husband and I are in a valley I think about his love languages. Have I been giving him the love he needs in the way he needs it most? Are there things I can do to better show him how much I love and appreciate him through my actions? Zach’s love language is physical touch so I try to make more of an effort to cuddle up on the couch closer to him, rub his back when I’m passing him in the hall. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Just little changes you can make that can have a HUGE impact! You can learn more about the 5 love languages and take the FREE test here!
5. Communicate Early and Often: Communication is so crucial to a happy relationship. We aren’t mind readers and our spouses aren’t either. It’s so important to open up and share your thoughts and needs. And to do so in a very clear way. Set aside time once a week to have a “business meeting” with your husband and this is a chance to share what’s on your mind with each other. (This post covers more details of a weekly check-in!) So often the valleys in marriage come from a small thing that bothers us that we harbor. Rather than communicating it to our spouse we hold it in and resentment builds and we withdraw from our husband. YES it’s important to be able to let things go, but so often when we try to let it go rather than confronting it all that happens is it grows bigger and affects our relationship in a much larger way than communicating about it does! By communicating early it avoids things building up and by communicating often it allows us to share more of ourselves with our spouse and learn more about them as well. We have learned we communicate best when we both take a breather. If we’re frustrated, annoyed, or angry we need some time and space and then can better communicate in a positive way. Learn the best way you and your husband communicate and then be sure to do it on a regular basis!
I know valleys in marriage are rough. It’s hard to push yourself to do what needs to be done in order to start the climb back to the mountain top. But by BOTH of us working on ourselves, our marriage ALWAYS improves. My mother in law always says you can’t change someone else, the only person you can change or have control over is yourself. And it’s so true. As a married couple you are a team, but you’re also still individual players. You each have your own strengths and weaknesses you bring to the relationship as well as your own unique needs and desires! By stepping out of that comfort zone you can better yourself and your marriage and see higher, wider hilltops in the future!
Today is Pinterest Day with the Babywise Friendly Blog Network! Be sure to follow our Group Pinterest Account for TONS of great content and be sure to follow my personal Pinterest account for lots of stuff I love!
All of us are writing on the topic of marriage. It’s one that I personally LOVE to read about and gain perspective from others on…so check out all the Babywise Bloggers today!
- Chronicles of a Babywise Mom – How To Divide Responsibilities in Marriage
- Team Cartwright – Communication and Grace: 2 Keys to Building Up Your Marriage in Times of Stress
- Mama’s Organized Chaos – What I Want My Daughter to Notice About Our Marriage
- Twinning Babywise – Datenight Babysitting Swap (How To)
- Wiley Adventures – One Quick Trip for a Happier and Healthier Marriage