So many marital problems boil down to one problem: communication.

Barriers to effectively communicating take a toll on nearly every aspect marriage - all because couples don’t have a good sense of what’s going on with each other.

This can lead to ignoring ongoing issues, mistakes based on miscommunication, and anger when it feels like your spouse just isn’t listening to what you have to say.

Roadblocks to communication stem from many places – from problems trusting to personal difficulty opening up, from insecurity to simple lack of communication skills…

These all have ways of making situations more difficult, but for now, we’ll look at simple ways to think about our own ways of speaking to help our spouses become better listeners.

1. Promote Dialogue

No one likes to be “talked at.” When conversations are totally one sided, it can cause people to shut down, and all but stop listening – no matter the topic. As the speaker, it’s easy to get on a roll and make point after point, or recount every detail of a story without considering how it might be affecting your listener.

Does it seem like your wife never listens to you?

Does it seem like your wife never listens to you?

With a little bit of awareness, though, we can take steps to be better speakers and listeners. By simply slowing down and paying attention to the other person, we can prevent ourselves from steamrolling them with a monologue.

Conversation is a dialogue – communication between two people.

As a speaker, ask questions (or at the very least, allowing space for response and comments). If your spouse tends to steamroll you as a listener, let them know how it feels – that you aren’t enjoying a conversation, and instead feel like you’re just being “talked at.”

2. It Can’t Be All About Them

Another bad habit that shuts down communication is when someone makes the entire conversation (or series of conversations) all about them.

When you just talk about yourself, what’s going on in your life and in your own head, you are showing the other person (without actually saying it), that your personal concerns are more important than anything else that might be going on around you.

Even if they don’t mean it, your spouse might make you feel like they aren’t interested in your problems or successes if they spend all of their energy talking about their own.

Again, to solve this problem, you have to address it. It might be a difficult subject to tackle, but let your spouse know that it makes you feel ignored or overshadowed. Try talking about “third party” topics, or directly asking that they let you vent. Ask them questions to promote dialogue, and do your best to agree to “take turns” – so neither of you are dominating the focus.

This can go both ways. Either your spouse doesn’t listen because they’re too busy talking about themselves, or they check out because you are. Pay attention to the “shared” dynamic of your conversations.

3. Control Tone

If the conversation is a contentious one - that is, if you’re talking with your spouse about a problem – tone is everything!

There’s a massive difference between a concerned talk about a problem that affects the stability and strength of the marriage, and an outright attack on someone’s behavior or character.

By keeping anger in check, avoiding absolutes, sarcasm, personal attacks, etc., you keep the conversation on the topic at hand, instead of pushing emotional buttons that can make people check out, grow defensive, and ignore any criticism directed at them.

If you come at your spouse with an aggressive tone, they can shut right down, and won’t listen to a word you have to say.

Communication is essential for any healthy relationship, and taking steps to improve the way you communicate with your spouse will actually improve the way they communicate with you as well!

Both of you should be aware of the listener when speaking, and imagine what it’s like to be in their position. By putting yourself in each other’s shoes, you can keep both your bad habits in check and promote better communication for everyone involved!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Sometimes dads are hard to read… They can be tough to get gifts for, tough to show appreciation for, and depending on the man, they can even be difficult to open up to.

Even for the friendliest, most open and loving dads, it can still be a challenge to find the right present – so instead of thinking in those typical terms this Father’s Day, instead focus on showing appreciation for the important role dads play in our lives!

Appreciate the dads in your life this Father's Day!

Appreciate the dads in your life this Father's Day!


Of course, every relationship is going to be a little different, but whether it’s your stoic father-in-law, your own warm and friendly dad, or the jokester father of your children, taking a moment to recognize their paternal accomplishments in clear, honest terms will make them feel truly appreciated!

Men (as a general assumption) like to know what they’re doing right – so let him know! It can be as simple as pulling him aside at some point during the day or inviting him to lunch at some quiet place. One of the best gifts you can give is a straightforward “thanks for doing what you do.”

Think about the largest impact that the fathers (and father-figures) in your life have had on the people around you (including yourself). What are some of most valuable lessons you’ve learned them? Can you think of a memory when your father protected you? Or when your husband did something particularly adorable with the kids?

Letting him know that you remember these special moments, as well as the impact they have on your life, will give him a confidence boost and remind him that he is loved and appreciated.

Dads can have a whole range of roles in a household, from disciplinarian to provider, caretaker to playmate. Because the role of fatherhood isn’t quite as clearly defined as motherhood, dads can be plenty of things to plenty of people – what matters most is the relationship you have with the dads in your life.

Find a way to show them how much you care this Father’s Day. Thank him for his hard work or sense of humor, his even temper or his delicious cooking. Whatever it is that makes him a special dad, let him know!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Whenever we receive a question that touches on a broad issue, it’s a great chance to not only help one couple tackle a problem, but also to share the information with a wider audience – in case you or someone you know might be experiencing something similar.

We recently received a question about a pretty big problem: disrespect.

It can affect couples of any age, and both men and women are just as likely to be the perpetrator. Read through question below, and think closely about how you communicate with your spouse.

Angie reached out to ask:

“My husband has no filter when it comes to saying things that hurt. We’ve been married 5 years, and his mouth – and the lack of control he has when it comes to thinking before speaking – has caused endless problems in our marriage. I’ve had enough of this. He complains about our intimacy not being what it should, but fails to understand that I can’t work on intimacy if I feel disrespected and hurt as often as I do. If he doesn’t change, I’m afraid I will have to call it quits. Please tell me what I can do about this issue…”

Communication is one of the most important parts of a marriage (and really, any relationship). Many people, however, struggle to communicate effectively because they simply don’t think the personal biases, quirks, and shortcomings that go along with it.

Is your husband being disrespectful?

Is your husband being disrespectful?

We all have our own manner of speaking, and when we’re listening, we filter everything we hear through our personal biases and experiences – whether or not we’re aware of it.

This makes communication tricky to begin with, and in situations like Angie’s, it can make positive communication seem impossible. When people behave like this disrespectful husband, there are almost always reasons buried below the surface (like lack of self-esteem, misplaced anger, or other unspoken issues) that cause the person to lash out and speak so hurtfully.

It’s also worth considering that our personal interpretation of the way people speak to us is influenced by our own emotional states. In other words, it’s easy to take things too personally, or at the very least, hear them in a way the speaker didn’t intend.

Now, with these things in mind, how should a struggling spouse handle this problem?

First, if you’re feeling disrespected by your spouse, if they’re talking down to you, etc., it’s important to let them know exactly how it makes you feel.

Using “I” statements (as opposed to “you” statements) make it about the way their words affect YOU – instead of assigning blame. This helps prevent them from going on the defensive, and will also help them empathize with how it feels to be on the receiving end of that kind of talk.

If you can engage in a calm discussion about the way it makes you feel, you can potentially transition into the more difficult part of the topic: why they behave that way in the first place. Make sure you’re speaking from a place of love and trust, and gently probe for reasons behind their hurtful statements.

Is it an issue with them? Does your spouse have some problem they feel defensive about, so they shift the conversation away from anything that could potentially make them feel at fault?

Is there some unspoken problem in the marriage that they’ve been afraid to bring up? Are they looking for other ways to voice their discontent?
They could be projecting their own insecurities onto you, or simply taking out frustrations from another aspect of their life. To get to the bottom of the problem, you’ll need to ask these tough questions… Just remember to keep the blame out of it.

The final bit of advice here is to also give your spouse the benefit of the doubt (and along with it, keep your own sensitivity in check). This is not to say that you should sit by idly while your spouse is disrespectful, but rather, try to be aware of all of the other factors that may influence the way they behave.

Is this disrespectful behavior unique to communication between the two of you, or does your spouse behave this way in other situations too?

Instead of just being offended, let your spouse know how much they are hurting your feelings (and likely the feelings of others), and explain that you want to help them get to the root of the problem, and ultimately overcome the habit.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Most of us recognize the importance of sex in romantic relationships. Between the advice plastered across newsstand magazines, the wide world of products designed to “help” people with their sex lives, and even our own natural desires – it’s pretty clear that sex is a big deal to humankind!

But what about when it stops being a big deal in your marriage? How does that happen? And more importantly, what can you do about?

For married couples, there are all kinds of reasons sex may be pushed to the back burner, why desire or libido can change, or even why the act of having sex is difficult. It could be injury, illness, self-esteem, kids, stress, not enough sleep, or any number of problems in the relationship - the list goes on and on.

You don't have to have a sexless marriage!

You don't have to have a sexless marriage!

This might sound worrisome, but it shouldn’t be! It’s important to understand just how many parts of your life affect sex drive and the sexual relationship you have with you spouse. It’s just as important to recognize that over time, things may wax and wane, you may experience problems, your desires might change – and all of that is ok!

What’s not ok, though, is ignoring the problem. Sex, and all of the related physical intimacy (including the subconscious bonds you form), is a major part of the connection we share with our spouses – it’s what separates lovers from friends. When that connection is disrupted (for any number of reasons), the whole relationship can suffer.

Because sex is so intimate, so personal, so potentially embarrassing, it’s often easier for people to let their sex lives fade into the background, instead of facing the issues head on.

So, if the causes can be so broad, what can people do to get back on track? What can couples do if they’ve fallen out of the practices of physical contact and intimacy?

The essential first step is looking at the situation honestly. It might be tough to admit, but if you feel like there’s something missing from your sex life – or if it’s missing altogether – you have to be brave enough to say so!

Admitting to yourself (and to your spouse) that you want to make an improvement is the beginning of making it a reality. Exploring the causes of the problems will be a little different for everyone, and they may not be immediately apparent. Because of this, seeking professional help is one of the best ways to dig deep for the little nuances that are affecting your unique relationship.

Professional marriage counselors and sex therapists specialize in creating a nonjudgmental environment to get everything out in the open, to explore what is happening (or has happened) in the marriage to cause your sex life to change. By evaluating your specific relationship, a professional can help you find steps to take in the right direction.

Outside of tailored, professional help, there are a few ways to help rekindle the passion in your marriage. However, if the problems have been going on a long time, or there are other serious issues at play, professional counseling still may be the best option.

To keep that spark alive (or to get it lit again), there are a few simple ways to just get your body back into the swing of things:

Touch

First, touch each other! Physical contact - from hugs and kisses, all the way to sexual intercourse - causes our brains to produce oxytocin (the “cuddle hormone”), which helps us feel connected and in love on a subconscious level.

Even if it has been a while… Even if you feel a little uncomfortable or shy, just a little bit of familiar physical contact will start the process. Don’t worry about taking things too slowly - it’s just fine to take your time!

Hold hands, hug, cuddle up on the couch… Simply being near each other will help your body re-acclimate to physical intimacy.

Fun and Flirting

Another great way to ignite a spark in your marriage is through fun and flirting!

Make a point to be playful and upbeat with your spouse. Finding fun activities to do together. Compliment one another, and just engaging in some “flirty” behavior as often as you can! It helps relieve tensions and increase your comfort level…

Comfort is worth mentioning because sometimes, as couples grow older, they begin to grow apart in personality – which can make people feel like they no longer know one another. Flirtation and fun times spent together bring you back into a state of openness and joy, which means getting to know each other all over again, laughing, and rebuilding attraction.

Other Methods

Beyond the big two – physical contact and being intentionally flirtatious and fun, there are many other ways to point your sex life in the right direction.

Improvements to diet and exercise (health is directly related to sex drive), spending quality, distraction-free time together will definitely help.
Again, you have to talk about it to improve it. Sit down with your spouse (outside of the bedroom) to talk openly and about what’s going on with your sex life, what you would like to work on, and what you think might be holding you back.

A happy, healthy sex life is an extremely important part of maintaining a strong marriage, and can unfortunately be overlooked the longer couples are married. This deeply personal and private part of a relationship can be hard to talk about when there are problems, but the longer they go unchecked, the harder it is to get things back on track.

Don’t let a breakdown in your sexual connection put cracks in the foundation of your marriage. Make the overall health of your relationship a priority, and be brave enough to approach the issues in your marriage with honesty and motivation to improve!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

The idea of creating happiness is a bit of a tough cookie… On one hand, we all need to be responsible for our own moods and thoughts. It’s up to each and every one of us to take control and find the elements that make up our unique, individual happiness.

On the other hand, we should also be making efforts to provide a happy environment for our spouses, doing the things that make each other happy and make the marriage a pleasant, fun, fulfilling relationship to be in!

Unfortunately, too many of us get caught up in the first part, and don’t pay much attention to the other. This is ultimately a selfish way to look at the world, and when you’re only thinking of yourself, you might not even consider the things you’re doing to disrupt the harmony of your marriage.

To help you think more about how you can contribute to your wife’s happiness (and ultimately, make your life happier in the process), here are four tips that are virtually guaranteed to make your wife happy:

1. Stop and Think

When you’re feeling edgy or irritated, or even in everyday conversation with your wife, stop and think before you speak! Most of the snappy, mean, or dismissive things we say just get blurted out before we have a chance to think about how they might affect the situation (and the relationship). If only we’d take a moment to stop to contemplate what we’re about to say, we could likely avoid conflict and keep things on an even keel!

Kindness is easy if we’re self-aware. Don’t let impatient or snappy words just tumble out of your mouth. Think about what you say, and say exactly what you mean!

2. Take Some Action

Your actions define you even more than your words. One of the biggest issues couples have is thinking that the other person isn’t contributing enough around the house, isn’t proactive enough in their career, etc. – essentially critiquing each other’s actions. This isn’t necessarily the right thing to do, but it’s reality – so what better way to counteract the issue than with action!

When you see something around the house that needs taking care of, just take care of it! Instead of flopping down to watch TV, tackle a project or work on a new skill.

Above all, just be proactive! Your wife will not only appreciate your contributions and accomplishments, she’ll also be inspired to do more herself!

3. Back Off

We often make the mistake of thinking that whenever our spouse is upset, it’s got something to do with us. There are so many other factors that can affect your wife’s mood – work, kids, problems with friends, the list is endless… If she says it isn’t you, believe her!

Because of this common mistake, though, we might press the issue, not take our spouse’s word for it, or even make them more upset by not giving them the space they need to sort things out. Learn the difference between problems you can help with and problems you can’t, and when the situation calls for it (or when your wife asks you to), just back off!

4. Listen and Ask

Communication is a critical part of every relationship. Some people (especially men) make the mistake, however, of thinking that “communicating” is something set aside for hashing out problems, for discussing the relationship… For “serious talk.”

In reality, good communication is like a thread that should run through every aspect of the relationship, from boring stuff like finances and groceries, to fun and lighthearted joking around, to serious marriage discussion, to honest (even exposing) talks about fears, hopes, and dreams.
To do this, ask questions and listen! Not only will it help you get to know one another on an even deeper level, as well as strengthen your connection, it will also give your wife a little bit of an ego boost if you’re intently curious on what she has to say.

As with so much of our advice and information, this stuff really applies to both husbands and wives. Making an effort to keep your spouse happy, regardless of what you’re doing specifically, means that you’re focusing on the marriage! Your spouse also has to participate in creating their own happiness, but you can help!

If this is something you’re both focused on, the marriage is likely to be an awful lot happier.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

With the sun shining and the grill cooking, summer afternoons are some of the most enjoyable times of the year. Spending time with friends and family (especially your spouse) with no agenda but good times and building connection is a luxury of free days and beautiful weather.

A way to make it even more fun? Playing outdoor games!

Get outside with your spouse this Summer!

Get outside with your spouse this Summer!

The options are numerous of course, and you may already have favorites. Some of the most popular (and easiest to buy or make) yard games include: bags, ladder ball, bocce, washers, horseshoes, badminton, and the like. There are also variations on other games - like giant Jenga, giant-sized beer pong (use big plastic trashcans and volleyballs), or giant ring toss!

Of course, the old standby of playing catch with a baseball and mitts, a football, or a frisbee is a great way to get a little exercise and enjoy the nice weather!

These are just a few of the options, and you can always get creative and make up your own! Think about combining equipment you already have or making a game out of an otherwise “pointless” activity (like a slip-n-slide, squirt gun fights, etc.).

You can also take indoor games out into the yard just to soak up some sun! Bring your Ping-Pong table outside and host a neighborhood tournament. Invite another couple over for a mid-afternoon board game session (outside).

If you don’t have any games, most “big box” stores will have a selection of pre-made ladder ball and bags (sometimes called cornhole) sets, as well as a variety of other outdoor-type games. Go browse around and see if any leap out at you!

The whole point is to have some carefree fun in the fresh summer air. It doesn’t really matter what game or games you play, as long as you’re having fun with your spouse and enjoying the good weather! Many of these games are also an excuse to move around, and that will make you both feel your best!

It’s all about fun in the sun - so pick some games and forget all the things you need to get done. Take the time to enjoy yourself. Summer won’t last all year!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

No marriage is perfect, and of course we can’t expect them to be. The dynamics of a relationship can change over time. The bond you share can go through ups and downs over the years, and this is perfectly normal and healthy.

If the marriage seems to be stuck in one of those “downs,” however, the problem might be more serious than the natural ebb and flow common in many long-term relationships. To help you understand the warning signals, we’ve put together a list of 5 problems that put the entire stability of your marriage at risk.

Now, please remember that if you are experiencing one of these problems, your marriage is NOT dead. There’s a big difference betwee

There are signs that your marriage could be dying.

There are signs that your marriage could be dying.

n “dying” and “dead” here – if you’re experiencing one of these marital problems, it’s not too late. Reach out for help to save your marriage’s life!

1. Lack of Sex

Sex is extremely important to your marriage. While the frequency (and all the other details) will surely vary from couple to couple, the connection you build with your spouse through sexual activity is undeniable. Not only are our brains and bodies designed to feel extreme closeness through sex, the level of intimacy that surrounds the whole process is important time spent together at your most exposed and vulnerable.

If sex is absent from your marriage, the connection you share (or want to share) is suffering.

2. Squabbling

There’s a big, big difference between a disagreement about a particular topic and “squabbling.” If you find that you and your spouse are bickering about next to nothing, take this as a warning flag. Squabbling is what happens when elements of frustration and difficulties in the marriage go unaddressed, and instead you both just remain slightly angry around the clock, picking away at each other every chance you get. Clearly, this is unhealthy behavior.

3. Ignoring Problems

This is directly related to the item above. Ignoring problems (whether it’s something serious like substance abuse, or something minor like whose turn it is for dishes) will only cause them to get worse. When problems go unaddressed, most people find other ways to take out their frustrations (hence the squabbling), and the longer they go ignored, the worse the problems (and the misplaced reactions) get.

Marriages need to be built on trust and honesty, and that means being able to communicate about problems in a way that leads to real solutions, and not being afraid to work toward those solutions together.

4. Living Separate Lives

So much of marriage is about togetherness, from casual time spent together to having your spouse as a confidant, support system, and ally. If you and your spouse are living separate lives, spending your time in different parts of the house, keeping your opinions, passions, or fears to yourself, your marriage really only exists on the surface. Without actually sharing your lives with one another, nearly all of the benefits of a happy marriage our out of reach!

5. Lying

Dishonesty hurts, especially when it’s from someone you care about. In a marriage, dishonesty will not only chip away at the trust you have for each other, but will even start to lead toward unfounded suspicion.

Lying about the small stuff only makes it all the more possible to lie about something much more important, and if you can’t trust each other to tell the truth, how can you trust each other with anything else? Dishonesty is like a spreading infection for marriages – it grows and spreads from one area of the relationship to the next, leaving damage wherever it goes. You have to be honest with one another for the marriage to thrive.

Remember, these are the signs of a dying marriage, NOT the signs of a dead marriage. You have the power to save its life! If the items on this list sound a little too close to home, then you know where to start working!

Don’t let your marriage slip through your fingers!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Couples counseling has something of a bad reputation. Success rates are dismal, and for many couples, enrolling in marriage counseling signifies the beginning of the end of a relationship. This should not be seen as a shortcoming of marriage counseling itself, but rather a shortcoming of individual counselors who might provide counseling to couples without any formal training.

In an article in Psychotherapy Networker, William Doherty summed up the issue. He said, “Couples therapy may be the hardest form of therapy, and most therapists aren’t good at it.”

Is your therapist doing more harm than good?

Is your therapist doing more harm than good?

He goes on to explain in a little more detail: “Surveys indicate that about eighty percent of therapists in private practice do couples therapy. Where they got their training is a mystery because most therapists practicing today never took a course in couples therapy, and never did their internships under supervision from someone who’d mastered the art. From a consumer’s point of view, going in for couples therapy is like having your broken leg set by a doctor who skipped orthopedics in medical school.”

Couples counseling is not the same as individual counseling, and yet many, many therapists do not make this distinction. This means you have counselors employing techniques and strategies they learned for treating individuals, but in a couples’ setting. It’s little wonder that the results are not always ideal.

The other side of the problem is purely situational. Couples will often seek counseling when the marriage is already in trouble. Because seeking therapy is often done in this “emergency” context, most couples do not take the time (or can’t) to fully research therapists and select the best fit.

While it can be difficult to do, we recommend “shopping around” for couples counselors to ensure that the therapist you choose actually has training for relationship counseling. There is no harm in asking a potential counselor about their training, experience, and approach to couples counseling.

Different counselors will have different strategies, and it will be up to you to decide what works best for you and your spouse. Just remember that many therapists, no matter how skilled in other areas, may not have any training specific to working with couples, or with improving marriages in particular.

Choosing an unqualified therapist will be a drain on both your time and your money, and may actually do more damage than good. Make sure you’re choosing the right person for the job.

We also recommend exploring alternatives to face-to-face counseling like we offer here on our site. We offer videos and articles on a variety of marriage counseling and relationship topics including:

For a full list of our topics, you may want to explore our Marriage Help Library.

If you are already seeing a counselor, make sure that they are providing you with real value. If you’re considering it, do your best to make the most informed decision possible. You’re taking a big step forward by committing to improving your marriage, and it would be awful to put that in jeopardy with an unqualified counselor. Choose wisely!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

In our final installment of this series, we’ll examine three more problems that can mean catastrophe for your marriage – IF they are allowed to continue unchecked.

These are the types of issues that many couples simply accept as “normal,” and allow them to chip away at the quality of the relationship without taking steps to fix them. The reason for pointing these things out is simple: they only get worse over time, and in the long run, can push you and your spouse further and further apart.

As you read through these, reflect on your own relationship. Even if they don’t seem like a big deal now, the problems here are worth tackling immediately. To maintain a healthy relationship and build the strongest marriage possible, you can’t let this stuff go.

1. You Aren’t Communicating

Think about the conversations you have with your spouse. Are they “surface level” small talk? Are you simply talking about the things you have to (like planning rides for the kids or who’s going to get groceries), or are you actually communicating?

Beware of these potential marriage enders.

Beware of these potential marriage enders.

Do you talk about how you feel? How the marriage is going? Your goals? Personal problems you’re trying to overcome? Are you sharing deep thoughts or big questions? Are you able to easily slip into meaningful conversation?

If not, you’re probably struggling to communicate in a general way – and that spells trouble for the marriage! Not everyone is comfortable opening up, but with your spouse, there should be enough trust and intimacy to speak freely… And you also have to LISTEN. Being an attentive, patient listener is an equally (if not more) important part of communication as speaking.

To solve this problem, well… You have to communicate about it! If you feel like the two of you haven’t really been talking (beyond the basic, mundane needs of life), say something to your spouse about it! Tell them that you would like to work on communicating more openly and effectively, and start from there. Hopefully, this will start a conversation you can both learn from, and help you both make the effort in the future to open up, to listen, to and embrace the connecting power of communication.

Without it, you can begin to exist too separately, unaware of how each other might be feeling – which is often the path to misunderstanding, fights, and the kind of drifting apart that turns a marriage into disconnected cohabitation.

2. Codependence

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being able to rely on each other – to discover your own strengths and weaknesses and see your marriage as a team effort that helps you both...

However, there’s some very real danger in codependency. It’s one thing to have a marriage that’s greater than the sum of its parts – it’s another thing entirely if you can’t function without the other person. This could mean basic things like managing money or household duties, or as extreme as enabling substance abuse – when one of you is acting like a crutch to support the other person’s bad habits (or if you’re both doing it for each other), your marriage is on thin ice.

If, for example, you aren’t there for your spouse to depend on, they may lash out or become angry – simply because they’ve grown so accustomed to relying on you. Similarly, if your spouse is taking you for granted (or vice versa), it can breed resentment as you grow frustrated with their dependence.

This can be a tough situation to break away from, but it is possible – even if it has to be done gradually. This is definitely a place marriage counseling can help. The first step is acknowledging that the issue exists, even if it’s hard for you or your spouse to face up to.

Healthy marriages are cooperative, and it’s certainly ok to rely on each other for some support – but if it’s become too codependent, you’re likely asking for long-term trouble.

3. A Major Rough Patch

We wanted to end this series with a very, very common problem that many couples simply handle the wrong way. It’s natural and normal to through “rough patches” in your marriage. After all, people are always growing and changing, and plenty of outside factors – like work stress, extended family, personal challenges, kids, and so many others – can have an affect on the relationship.

Regardless of the reason, there may be stretches of time where you aren’t feeling very close, you’re fighting more than usual, and just not very satisfied with the relationship. Again, this is normal…

However, if you just let it slide, assuming things will get back on track on their own, you risk this “rough patch” becoming the new dynamic of your marriage – and that’s not sustainable. You can accept that things aren’t their best right now, but you’ve also got to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Address the problem head on, even if you’re not exactly sure what the problem is. Sit down with your spouse and acknowledge that things have been rough, and make an agreement to uncover the problems and deal with them one by one. Far too many couples think these rough patches will resolve themselves – and sometimes they do, but not often. It’s going to take effort to get things back on track, so don’t just settle for “rough” when you could be working to make the marriage better.

As we’ve been saying throughout the series, these problems do NOT mean your marriage is doomed. You have to understand, though, that if left unaddressed, these problems will chip away at the connection you share, make things worse and worse, and ultimately compound until they’ve destroyed the marriage. The good news is that you can resolve each and every issue we’ve talked about.

If you don’t settle for a problematic marriage, and instead have the courage to face up to problems, be honest with yourself and each other, and work toward a better, stronger relationship… Nothing can stop you!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Continuing our series from last time, today we’ll be looking at 3 more marriage problems that could spell big trouble for the longevity of your relationship. These issues are NOT a guarantee that your marriage will fail, but left unaddressed, they could be disastrous.

We’re covering these things to offer you a warning… If these are problems you’re currently dealing with, it’s time to start the process of resolving them. It may take time (and will definitely take effort), but you can get your marriage back on track before any more damage is done.

Let’s get right into three more potential marriage enders.

1. Sexual Issues

As we’ve covered in the past, a healthy sex life is an important part of a marriage. The intimate, physical connection you share is what makes the difference between lovers and friends – and the unconscious bonds you form through sex (and other forms of physical affection) are more powerful than you may realize!

Beware of these potential marriage enders!

Beware of these potential marriage enders!


Now, it’s always worth mentioning that people can have a wide range of sex drives, preferences, or versions of what they view as a “satisfying” sex life – and that’s ok! Problems arise when couples aren’t on the same page – and don’t talk about it.

If you aren’t satisfied with your sex life, are having issues in the bedroom, or suspect that your spouse isn’t speaking up about it, it’s time to have a conversation. It might be tough (and a little embarrassing) to talk about, but if you don’t get honest about this stuff, the problems will persist… And likely get worse.

2. You Aren’t Making Each Other Happy

This one is a little bit complicated. There are essentially two sides to happiness when it comes to your marriage. On one hand, you have to recognize that your spouse is NOT responsible for your happiness… You are.

You can’t rely on one another as a source of happiness, and blame your spouse if you are struggling to maintain a good mood or feel content. Ultimately, the choice is yours, and you absolutely CAN be in control of your own happiness – even if that means taking it upon yourself to make drastic changes to your habits, how you spend your time, diet, or any other facet of your life.

Now, the other side of this is directly related to your marriage. It’s not your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy – and not yours to make them happy… However, if you aren’t making ANY efforts to brighten each other’s days, that’s a problem. Plenty of little things – from kind words of praise to helping each other out around the house – can show your spouse that their wellbeing is important to you, that you want to them to be as happy and stress-free as possible.

Again, you are each responsible for your own overall sense of happiness, but a lack of effort to contribute to your spouse’s day-to-day joy is an issue that needs addressing. It indicates a detachment from the relationship, and a lack of concern for the other person. If this is the case in your marriage, start making small efforts to make each other happy before you drift any further apart.

3. Financial Troubles

Money is the number one thing couples fight about… And it makes perfect sense. Most married couples share finances, and stressing about money is something that most of us have to deal with at one time or another. When finances are shared, it’s all too easy to scrutinize your spouse’s spending habits, worry about their share of the income, and so on. Because we all have different opinions on saving and spending, on what’s worth buying and what isn’t… There are bound to be disagreements from time to time.

When you really don’t see eye to eye about money, the disagreements can turn into full-blown arguments – and if it happens often enough, it can damage the whole dynamic of your marriage, keeping you both tense and angry day after day.

The solution is simple: MAKE A BUDGET. Take the time to sit down together, evaluate your finances, figure out where you both stand on various kinds of expenditures, and develop a budget you can both agree on. Once you’ve agreed on how much you’ll spend and where, this budget becomes your fallback for any and all financial disagreements.

If you find yourself fighting about spending (or anything else to do with money), you can simply refer back to the budget, see if your current behavior falls within the guidelines you’ve established, and let the budget be the “bad guy” that tells you whether or not you can make a purchase. You won’t have to fight or blame each other… You both agreed to the budget, and you can both agree to stick to it!

Next time, we’ll look at three more potential marriage enders to wrap up this series. If the problems we’ve discussed here (or in the previous entry) are happening in your marriage, don’t wait to face them. The sooner you get started on these problems, the closer you are to having a happier, healthier marriage!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com