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Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Make Things a Little Better

If all the name calling, criticizing, and sarcasm haven't improved things yet, they probably aren't going to.  If you can make a commitment to each other or to yourself to not resort to these weapons when things get tense, you can make the house a little safer, a little more peaceful. 

It works for kids and it works for couples.  Most fights and arguments start with one partner feeling attacked or criticized.  They then defend themselves by criticizing the other partner who then defends themselves by criticizing their partner. What starts out as a fight about the laundry ends up about what happened on vacation with your mother five years ago.  Couples often report that they are terribly upset after an argument but have trouble figuring out how it started.  Make it a rule that either one of you can call a time out. It will be hard especially if you are the kind of person that "likes to get things settled, right now."  But it gives each of you a chance to calm down--emotionally and physiologically. 

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Next time your spouse does something good, no matter how trivial--takes out the trash, fills the car with gas, puts in a hard day at work, saves a few bucks at Publix...mention it. Give them a sincere compliment.  It won't make up for the stuff you think they should be doing or the things that have hurt you in the past.  But it will give them an unconscious incentive to  do a few more things.  We all like praise.  Especially with someone who is near and dear to us even if we aren't getting alone very well right now. 

Dr. John Gottman after 25 years of studying successful couples concludes that "even marriages that are about to hit bottom can be revived with the right kind of help."  Gottman says the "key to reviving or divorce proofing a marriage is not in how you handle disagreements but in how you are with each other when you're not fighting."  Most of us have had more driver's education than we have had relationship education.  Many of us come from backgrounds of addiction or divorce or both.  Know that you both of you have done the best you can.  Neither of you want a difficult relationship.  You both want more.  You can have it.  You just don't know how.