4 ways to keep your marriage alive through hardships and heartache

You'll let your marriage die if you don't do these things.

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  • There's a wide variety of hardships that hit couples every day. But no matter what trouble you and your love are facing, there are four things that will help keep your marriage alive (if BOTH spouses put in the effort, of course).

  • 1. Talk it out together

  • Talking things out can make a bad situation better - and who better to talk through problems affecting your marriage than your own spouse? When partners fail to communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other during a hardship, things start going down hill.

  • Instead, be as open as possible with each other, especially about your individual and shared burdens. Listen to each other, comfort each other, discuss how to make things better and don't hold anything back when you have these talks.

  • 2. Put on a smile

  • I'm not here to tell you to "only look at the positive" or "be more optimistic" and ignore all the bad stuff that's happening in your life and your relationship. While it is easy to slip into a state of constant negativity when life gets rough, that mindset won't solve anything.

  • Even if it's infrequent, make the effort to be in a positive mood around your spouse. Something as simple as making yourself smile can be a big difference: studies show the act of smiling (even while you're sad) actually makes you feel happier. Plus, smiling is contagious and your spouse might share your happy mood if you smile around them.

  • 3. Look for ways to make them happy

  • It really is better to give than receive. Even a tiny act of service for your spouse can make all the difference, as long as it's meaningful. It's a win-win situation - your sweetheart feels loved from the kind act you did for them, and you feel better too because you focused your energies on making someone else happy instead of focusing on the troubles you're going through.

  • According to a marriage study, doing small acts of kindness for your spouse can boost your wellbeing ... just make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

  • "It's giving to others for the sake of giving to others that's important," says Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "As soon as you couch it with, 'I'm going to be compassionate today because I expect you to be compassionate tomorrow,' it destroys the effect."

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  • 4. Look at the big picture

  • Your day-to-day routine probably consists of just getting yourself from A to B, then from B to C. Only focusing on the moment is an easy trap to fall into when spouses are going through a rough patch. Instead, get a grasp on the possibilities outside of the now, and you'll find your marital hardship is hill you can easily climb together, not an unreachable mountain.

  • Even if the hardships you're going through seem huge, pressing and hopeless right now, it helps to take a mental step back and look at the big picture. When you do, it's much easier to feel hopeful. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and you and your sweetheart can make it there if you work together and push through.

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McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd.

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