How Can I Improve My Relationship with My Spouse?

You can break out of cycles of irritation and defensiveness that weaken your marriage. Try these suggestions, concentrating on a new one each week. You’ll be amazed at how effectively they can improve your relationship with you spouse.

  1. 1.

    Avoid negative thoughts. Avoid comparing your spouse with someone else. Instead, think of what you like or appreciate about him or her. Make a list and add to it frequently.

  2. 2.

    Avoid criticizing. Don’t make derogatory remarks about your spouse in front of others, and don’t allow others to criticize your spouse within your hearing. Instead, say something positive about your husband or wife in front of others, especially when your partner is present. It will reaffirm commitment and bolster self-esteem.

  3. 3.

    Do something positive for your spouse each day: a cup of hot chocolate, a surprise note, helping with a chore that your partner usually handles alone. Be creative—and don’t keep track of what you do.

  4. 4.

    Don’t set limits on the work you’re willing to invest in your marriage. Love is not a 50/50 proposition. You should avoid measuring the “amount” you are contributing to your marriage.

  5. 5.

    Avoid making demands or ultimatums. Nothing brings out stubbornness and resentment faster than an ultimatum.

  6. 6.

    Practice meekness. Many people equate meekness with weakness. But meekness in reality is a strength. It makes you more teachable and more compatible with others.

  7. 7.

    Study references to charity and love in the scriptures. Let the scriptures expand your understanding of eternal love.

[illustration] Illustrated by Scott Greer

Howard C. Macfarlane, Martha Wiser’s father, is a physician. He serves as regional director of a Latter-day Saint substance abuse program in the Jordan Utah Stake and as a temple worker in the Jordan River Temple.