When your marriage started, you thought you had found your happily ever. You were so happy. You couldn't wait for work to end so that you could see your spouse again. Going out to dinner together meant you could talk for hours and hours. Life felt magical.
Then came the kids, the stressful schedules, the parallel lives. Now, you hardly see each other, let alone talk to each other. This is the hardest place for a relationship to be in. You wish you were closer (especially when you find yourself watching a chick-flick where the stunning couple on screen never seems to run into any roadblocks). You wonder what happened to your marriage and wonder if it can be saved.
So what do you do to reverse years of distance, hurt feelings and anger?
1. Write down 50 things you like about your spouse
It's not a bad idea to try to figure out what problems you are having in the marriage, but it'll be more constructive to focus on the specific reasons you still love your spouse. Sometimes when you start counting problems you become more angry, hurt and unforgiving.
But when you focus on why you like or love your spouse, you will see and remember the times they have built your marriage. Times where they have lifted you up. Times when the two of you could take on the world. Positive thinking (rather than negative thoughts) will push you two to keep your marriage together.
2. Go on a day-vacation and do nothing
Sometimes you just need a break from life. You get so caught up in doing the same thing every day that you aren't able to see life from someone else's perspective. To regain that perspective, take a break.
Whether it's a three-day trip with friends or just going to a secluded place in a local park with your favorite food, you need time to think, relax, unwind and break up your routine.
Sometimes when you think you need a break from your spouse you actually just need a break from your crazy life - not your spouse.
The time to serve someone is when you feel like you are the only one working. When you feel that way, you are forgetting to see the things they are doing for you.
When you take a minute and do something special for someone you love, you will see that your spouse really does appreciate what you are doing for them. You'll also notice all the things they do for you.
4. Say I love you
This seems like the hardest thing to do when you don't like them at the moment ... But saying "I love you" will rekindle the feelings of love that you did have at one point.
You may have complained to your spouse about your friends before, but it's equally important that your friends also know that you really do love your spouse. When you reminding about how awesome your husband really is, or how incredibly well suited your wife is for you, they'll be happy to remind you of the good times.
Your friends can encourage you to keep trying and give you the needed support to keep trying in your relationship.
Going on a date is the perfect time to reconnect. Talk to your sweetheart. Tell them the reasons you love them. Instead of expecting them to return the long list of compliments, look into their eyes and enjoy making them feel loved and special.
Then, just talk to them. Ask about their day, what's been weighing on their mind, their concerns, the children - just talk. Couple time is one of the hardest things to do in a busy world, but it will make all the difference in your relationship.
When you are struggling in a relationship, it can be very easy to focus on what is going wrong. You may just want to escape, but instead of trying to run from your problems, do these simple things to build your relationship back up and enjoy living in a marriage that's become even stronger, despite the difficulties.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.