Contrary to popular wisdom, sex and money (or lack thereof) are not the leading causes of divorce, but rather the underlying issue: poor communication.
According to psychotherapist Laura Young, “The number one problem … in marriage is indeed effective communication. This includes how to argue with your spouse and not threaten to leave the relationship during a fight, as well as how to recognize–perhaps remember–that the annoying behaviors you feel are now intolerable have probably always been there. Perhaps you even felt they were adorable at one point.”
Staying connected is a key part of maintaining that perspective and more constructive communication, says therapist Lauren Urban-Colacicco.
“Couples spend too much time on the ‘business’ of being a married couple and not enough time staying connected, having fun together,” Urban-Colacicco tells Self. “In order for a relationship to continue to be successful, it’s necessary to foster the romantic and emotional connection between partners. Dates are extremely important, as trite as it sounds.”
Also, forget about communication techniques and choose to feel connected right now, urges relationship expert and author, Steven Stosny, Ph.D. “If you do, you’ll have a reasonable chance of your partner reciprocating,” he points out. “You will then communicate better. More importantly, you will move closer to recreating a love beyond words.”
Kara Lawler, a popular blogger for Mothering the Divide, stresses the importance of knowing when to communicate–and when to stay quiet. In other words: pick your battles. Lawler writes that she resists the urge to argue about the little things, such as when her husband leaves his shoes in the hallway or coats on the chairs. Doing so makes room—and saves energy—for more important disagreements, she says.
“For us, the secret seems to be in staying quiet about one another’s insignificant faults but at the same time, speaking up when needed—like over essential things, character things, big things, kid things, but mostly in doing so gently and with respect,” Lawler writes. “Sometimes, we do it loudly, I guess, but we choose our battles carefully.”
By making a concerted effort to stay connected to your spouse and picking your battles, the energy in your marriage will invariably shift in a more positive direction.