Saying “We need to talk” to your partner isn’t fun or productive. Here’s how to improve a bad relationship without talking about it – these tips may help you fall in love all over again.
“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. That is what makes a marriage last – more than passion or even sex.” ~ Simone Signoret. The stronger your threads, the better your marriage will be – even if you have to work on improving your relationship when you’re in debt.
One of the most popular relationship improvement books on Amazon is How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. The authors (Love and Stosny) say that talking things out isn’t always the best way to improve a bad relationship or achieve more connection and closeness in marriage. Learning how to improve your relationship is about getting closer in ways that don’t require men to try to be like women, or vice verse. This book shares stories of couples who have turned their marriages around, and is full of practical advice about the behaviors that make and break marriages. Even if you’re not married, you’ll benefit from the wisdom of learning how to improve a marriage.
How to Improve a Bad Relationship
Take risks together, as a couple. Trying new things together, such as sky diving or learning about astronomy, unites you as a couple. Psychology professor Leaf Van Boven from the University of Colorado explains that happiness is found in what you do (not what you buy) because experiences are open to positive reinterpretations, become a meaningful part of your identity, and contribute to a happy marriage or relationship. This is one way to improve a bad relationship without talking about it, because it encourages you to rely on each other.
Learn how to communicate differently – not about your relationship, though. Research shows that contempt and holding back when you’re talking about stuff in general are signs of marriage trouble and potential failure. So, find things about your spouse to appreciate and respect, and don’t stonewall. To improve a bad relationship, you need to keep talking, touching, and connecting with each other. If you don’t think you have communication problems, read Surprising Examples of Verbal Abuse in Relationships.
Be and stay specific when arguing. What are the real reasons you’re fighting? Money, for instance, can become a weapon when one spouse uses the other’s spending habits as ammunition or when a spouse spends money to get even. To improve a bad relationship, figure out exactly what you’re arguing about — especially if you tend to fight about money.
Learn how to express anger. Expressing anger and resolving conflict not only improves a bad relationship and keeps your love alive, it also lengthens your life span. “When couples get together, one of their main jobs is reconciliation about conflict,” says Ernest Harburg, researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. “Usually nobody is trained to do this.” His research reveals that couples who suppress anger are twice as likely to face early death as those who express it.
Commit to checking in with each other every day. “Commit to checking in with each other every day – or at least a few times a week without distractions,” says marriage and family counselor Lisa Brookes Kift. “Marriages often get “dry” when couples get busy and don’t prioritize each other and get a read or take the pulse of how the other is feeling.” This tip for improving a bad relationship will help you stay committed, and increase your emotional connection as a couple.
Find reasons to laugh (laughter is a surprising way to improve a bad relationship). Kift also suggest “cracking each other up” with stupid pet names, funny looks, and private jobs. Humor binds couples together and de-escalating conflict. It also demonstrates friendship in the marriage, which is very important.
Stop criticizing, stonewalling, and being defensive in your relationship. Be mindful of criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness. If a lot of any or all of these exist in a marriage – research has shown that the chances are much higher for divorce. Criticism and contempt do not keep love alive; in fact, it’ll thwart your relationship goals for good.
Remember why you fell in love. “To improve a bad relationship, visualize the person you dated and married,” says psychologist Bruce Eimer. “Remember that person is still alive inside of him. The stressors and tribulations of life may have made that inner goodness hard to see. But, if you can remember who you fell in love with, you’ll improve your marriage.”
Appreciate your partner – be grateful for your love. Look at your husband and take a moment to appreciate all of the things that he does for you and gives you. You may in fact want to express your appreciation for him verbally and/or non-verbally. This tip on how to improve a bad relationship is about telling your husband what you like about him and watching him beam. You’ll beam too!
Keep your intimate life alive and healthy. Knowing how to say “I love you” in small daily acts of love will improve a bad relationship. Making one day a week a special day–a day during which to schedule a “goody time” – can help your marriage. This can be any shared activity that you both can appreciate (such as a dinner out, going to the movies, etc.).
Untangle money issues – they contribute to relationship problems. “Often, when couples argue about money, it’s not money that’s the problem,” says William Harley, PhD, author of His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. “Instead, the money fights are a byproduct of relationship neglect.”
I welcome your thoughts on how to improve a bad relationship. I know these tips aren’t magic, and they won’t help your marriage overnight. But if you and your spouse are both committed to working on your relationship, it will improve!
For more tips on how to improve a bad relationship, read The Secret Reason Women Leave Good Relationships. The insights on why women walk away will help you see your relationship more clearly.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.