Have you ever thought to yourself, "If my wife/husband would only change ________, then our marriage will improve and I will be much happier."? Of course you have. It's common to look at one's spouse's faults to find the key to improving your marriage. Energy is then devoted to trying to convince one's spouse to change. But change rarely occurs. More likely, your spouse would respond defensively and suggest ways you would need to change to improve the marriage. The key to improving a marriage lies in changing the relationship, not your spouse. That means each partner contributing to change.

Begin by considering your contribution to both the good and bad aspects of your relationship. Ask yourself what you can do to take the lead in encouraging change for the better. One place to start is by asking yourself what you want most from your spouse. Plan to give your spouse that which you want. We are more likely to receive what we are willing to offer. Compliments beget compliments; affection can encourage a return of affection.

Many couples recall how much effort they made to nurture their relationship when they were dating. Even though time may have been tight, you found a way to spend time together. Even though money was tight, you found enjoyment in the simple pleasure of relating to one another. Make a commitment to rekindling enjoyment in being together. Just as your car will be more reliable if it is well maintained, your relationship will continue to grow if you nurture it.

•Take time to nurture the relationship.
•Demonstrate to your spouse that he is important to you.
•Provide support for your spouse.
•Make the effort to understand why your spouse behaves as he does, even when that behavior is displeasing.

Take time to make a list of behaviors which you currently perform or behaviors you could perform which would demonstrate you care. Don’t just think of the big things, buying presents or arranging a romantic get-away, but also think of the little things you could do which show you care. After you have made your list, then set out to do at least a couple of these items each day.

You may need to build in a special type of reminder. Some folks like to make a checklist or keep a calendar with marks for completion of a caring behavior. Others simply give themselves cues to remind them to think of a caring behavior, like putting a sticker on the bathroom mirror. I predict that you will find your spouse also increasing his caring behaviors as you make this effort.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Horton is a psychologist whose specialty is helping marriages in crisis. His website www.relationshipcrisis.com offers a free eBook download to help you determine whether your marriage is in crisis. His book Crumbling Commitment: Managing a Marital Crisis (Lulu) is available to guide couples through this difficult time.