5 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage



Terri Orbuch is a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. She recently identified some of the top common regrets of divorced couples.

“Divorced individuals who step back and say, ‘This is what I’ve done wrong and this is what I will change,’ have something powerful to teach others,” she recently told the Wall Street Journal.

Here are five things divorced couples regret not having done more of with a few comments of my own:

1. Boost your spouse’s mood

Encouraging and affirming your spouse in very simple ways can go a very long way. One study found that when a husband reported his wife didn’t express love and affection (not necessarily sex) the couple was twice as likely to divorce.

2. Talk more about money

As we’ve discussed on numerous broadcasts, money is a magnifier of problems but it’s also a common source of significant tension. Don’t keep secrets. Establish a family budget and stick to it.

3. Get over the past

Couples who can’t forgive past hurts grow bitter and resentful. Again, talk it out. Write a letter. Talk with a friend.

4. Blame the relationshipTrent1.jpg

Studies suggest that 65% of divorcees blame the ex-spouse for the demise of their marriage. When discussing relationship problems, Dr. Orbuch suggests saying “we,” not “you” or “I.” For example, you might say, “We are both so tired lately,” not “You are so crabby.”

5. Reveal more about yourself

Dr. Orbuch recommends: Every day, for 10 minutes, the couple should talk alone about something other than work, the family and children, the household, the relationship. No problems. No scheduling. No logistics.

Do you resonate with these findings?  What might you add as # 6 on this list?

If you’re in the midst of a troubled marriage, I hope you would consider reaching out to us. We have a tremendous counseling department and are prepared to help. To reach Focus on the Family’s counseling service by phone, call 1-800-A-Family (232-6459) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). If a counselor is not immediately available, you can leave your contact information and a counselor will call you back as soon as possible. This is available at no cost to you.

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Leave a Comment

Molly Reda-Schneider 7 months ago
Successful marriages happen when both people involved are committed to following the values of God and not the society around them. The expectations of the people around us, can damn a marriage, before it has had a chance to even begin. Ask a woman what she wants in a man? She wants a man who is both caring and sensitive as well as 100% in fidelity. What does a woman do when she finds that man? She compares him to those who violate everything that is contrary to her wants and tries to change him into what those around her are charged with, so that she can have commonality with her friends. Ask a man what he wants and fidelity, discretion and fortitude top the list, yet too often his eyes are directed to women who are anything but, those virtues so he can both tempt and impress his friends. I believe in family, but too often they are the downfall of a marriage. By and large, people cannot be happy unless they feel miserable. Only those who separate from the pack to define and create their own relationship, succeed. What are we willing to sacrifice, for a good marriage?
Jim More than 1 year ago

Why do you say never?  Even if your spouse refuses, for years, to be kind to you?

Christina More than 1 year ago

Surprise your spouse with litte "trinkets" of your love:  a love note in her purse or his wallet, Hershey's kisses and hugs in a drawer with a note saying "sending hugs and kisses your way with love",  do one of your spouse's despised chores for him/her.

Mary Ann S More than 1 year ago

Read the book "Five Languages of Love" by Smalley & Trent!  It is an excellent handbook for solving all kinds of problems in marriage.  I had read it years ago with my first husband, then had it recommended by a marriage counselor that my new husband & I saw for pre-marital counseling!  We both read & re-read it, discuss the points frequently and agree that it is a big help.

findmydream More than 1 year ago

It all makes sense except for #5 Every  day, for 10 minutes, the couple should talk alone about something other  than work, the family and children, the household, the relationship. No  problems. No scheduling. No logistics.

What else do you talk about?? The only things that don't fit are weather and news, not exactly great small talk.

Brad Pritts More than 1 year ago

It is a blessing to see so many positive suggestions!!!!

Louise More than 1 year ago

I think knowing the 5 love languages and trying to love your mate in his/her love language helps.  Love languages are: acts of service, words of encouragement, quality time, physical touch, and gifts.  Having a once a week date night without children when you can nurture your mate and have meaningful conversation discussing your thoughts and feelings, like what makes you sad, glad, mad, hurt, afraid, or ashamed, not just facts also builds a strong marriage.  The date helps you have fun with your mate and work on your differences. Your love should be a decision, not a fluffy feeling.

SDB More than 1 year ago

Be slow to anger - My family and I went to Celebrate Freedom this Saturday, my husband took forever getting ready and I wanted to be there by 2 because Kutless was on stage then.  Needless to say we did not make it by 2, however; there are more important things than getting angry - such as having a good time while we were there.  The old me before I came to know Christ would have flew off on a rampage and things would not have been pretty.  Since my husband and I gave our lives to Christ this is something we work on more - SLOW TO ANGER.  

jminn55362 More than 1 year ago

also limit tv i feel tv hurts only watch family quality shows that you would watch if kids where in the room with you and keep computers and tv out of the bedroom. the bedroom should be for sleep and make love only. always talk about issues, keep commucation open trust eachother have fun together laugh together cry together little moments that make relationships grow.

Heidi More than 1 year ago

Never, EVER consider divorce an option!

Molly Reda-Schneider 7 months ago
I cannot say that there are not situations  where divorce is not warranted...... But jumping ship at the first sign of trouble is not the answer because no one comes to marriage without baggage they need to dispose of. To often that baggage is family and/or its beliefs.  Christ's greatest marriage advice was Take up your cross and follow me....and let the dead bury their own.
Pam L More than 1 year ago

Passion drew you together, but compassion keeps you together!

konnie w. More than 1 year ago

Pay attention to the marriage and make decisions that will be good for the future of your life together.  Also be aware when something is wrong in your relationship and do something about it.  Don't ignore the signs of an unhappy spouse.

Marianne More than 1 year ago

Spend time together regularly, even if it is only doing the grocery shopping or running errands.  Do something besides sitting on the couch watching TV.

Rachel More than 1 year ago

Thank you, Barbara. I hope your day goes well too

Jody More than 1 year ago

#6 - Have a date night once a week.#7 - Stay intimate.

Beverly More than 1 year ago

If you've been divorced, get over the anger and DO NOT EXPECT YOUR NEW SPOUSE TO BE LIKE YOUR PREVIOUS SPOUSE (you may get your expectations met just by your attitude).  This is a new marraige, and GOD is the one who will fulfill your desires, so let HIM work.

#6  Show affection in front of others, especially your children - hold hands - kiss each other hello and goodbye - say good things to each other - communicate by sending one another meaningful looks and little smiles that only the two of you understand - say I love you for any reason.

Gigi More than 1 year ago

In a sermon, a pastor of mine gave an illustration that I think fits here: He said that after dinner one evening his wife had put the kids to bed and was cleaning up the kitchen. She asked him if he would pick up the toys strewn in the family room; he was working on his computer and procrastinated about putting the toys away. His wife went to bed, and he followed later when he finished what he was doing. In the morning, his wife, seeing the toys were still in the family room, said to him, "You call me 'Honey,' 'Honey,' but you don't do what I ask." [A take on Luke 6:45 - "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?"]Relating to that, my sister told me she was listening to a call-in talk show hosted by a famous rabbi (I forgot his name). One of the callers complained that his wife nagged him all the time. The rabbi answered that is a completely avoidable situation. The rabbi went on to say, "Your wife asks you to do some task around the house. You are reading the paper, working on your computer, or watching television, and tell her you'll do it when you're finished doing whatever you're doing. Then you forget, or procrastinate, or whatever, but you don't do the task. Your wife asks again, this time a bit irritated because the task is still undone. For whatever reason, you still do not complete the task, and your wife has become more irritated and her tone is probably not so kind. You consider her a nag, but you could have avoided the second request by simply doing what she asked in the first place."I'm not saying the husband is always at fault. This is a two-way steet; it just so happens that both illustrations were given by men.I wish I always followed my own advice.

Deb More than 1 year ago

Pray together daily - no better way to know what is on each other's hearts and minds.

Dan K. More than 1 year ago

Dear Jim,

I am taken back a little by the articles sense of, Gee, if only I would have done more, or would have done this that or the other thing, perhaps my spouse would not have left me and my marriage would not have ended in divorce.  The truth is our society and culture have developed a bent away from lifetime comittments and working through difficult times with our spouse with no thought of divorce because of the sanctity of marriage.  How sad.

Ellen More than 1 year ago

Forget your pride. Pride causes you to feel devalued and destroys your relationship. Pride was the devil's sin. Don't let him use it on your marriage.

David D. More than 1 year ago

Christians know the priorities:  God, family, and church...not church, God, and family.  But in reality we frequently practice the latter.  Break the cycle and align yourselves wtih God's priorities.

Jason S. More than 1 year ago

Say "I love you" to each other at least once a day.

Andi M. More than 1 year ago

Don't expect your spouse to be EVERYTHING to you.  First of all, God (not your spouse) needs to be #1.  Then, especially for us women I think, we need to have other women as friends who can fill some of those touchy-feely needs we have.  I'm not saying that husbands and wives shouldn't be emotionally close; I just think sometimes we women expect our guys to relate to us as other women would.  It doesn't work well to try to squeeze a man into that mold!

Roger More than 1 year ago

That  is good advice.Also we need to altrenatly pray together, after we shere in reading the Bible with daily devotions-so we know the priorities and direction of our spouse. Both should share in reading and prayer.

Constance More than 1 year ago

We have been married for over 25 years and we have told our children and anyone else who will listen to put your spouse first ahead of yourself. If we are both doing that then we are both being taken care of.  He takes care of me and I take care of him. That would be our #6 Sacrificial love as demonstrated by Jesus.