How To Work On Your Marriage Without Counseling – 7 Secrets

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I’m lucky enough to consider my marriage a pretty strong one, even after 14 years!  It doesn’t happen without work, though, so I’m sharing some of our secrets about how to work on your marriage without counseling.

With marriages, issues can arise and they can be very complicated.  Few issues are simple when it comes to any relationship, really.  You’ve got two opposing viewpoints.  You’re two separate people trying to live in harmony together.  That takes time, persistence, and patience.

You can, however, nurture positivity in your relationship, which will help you both work through difficult situations in your marriage, together.

This year we celebrated our 14th Wedding Anniversary.  At some point I realized my, now, husband was the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.  My certainty arose earlier for me than him, I think.

Almost 15 years later, I’m more certain than I was back then that he is truly the one.

Ivy and her husband in 2016 at the beach |

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But, our marriage hasn’t always been easy.

For the first few years, learning to live together was really difficult.  We fought.  I wondered if we weren’t meant for each other.  We made up and we grew closer together.

Then we had children.  We fought.  We wondered if we made the right decisions.  We made up and we’re learning we can have a happy marriage with kids.

Through it all, we’re learning that the longer we stay and the more effort we continue to give, the stronger our marriage becomes.  We are triumphing, together, through difficult times while constantly strengthening our marriage.

How to Work On Your Marriage Without Counseling

There are plenty of surprising things I learned in 8 years of marriage.  Mainly, that marriage is more work than just being married.  It’s a commitment to choose love!

Still, there are things I’m constantly learning about marriage.  And, because my husband and I both believe our marriage is stronger now than it was ever before, I thought I’d share how to work on your marriage without counseling or talking about it.

Ivy with her husband 1 year anniversary photo at Morton's |

1. Decide What’s Important

What’s important in your life?  If you want your marriage to remain healthy and positive, you have to decide your marriage is important.

Make your marriage (and spouse) a priority!

Give your marriage the time and attention it needs.

Do regular check-ins and ask yourself “Am I giving my marriage enough time and energy to keep it strong?”

If you’re not sure, do a check-in with your partner!  Ask them how they’re feeling about the relationship and if there’s anything that could be improved upon.

2. Focus On The Positive

I used to get really irritated when my husband would put the silverware in the dishwasher “the wrong way.”  The more it happened, the more irritated I became.  Then, one day I realized I should be grateful he rinses his dinner plate and puts his plate and silverware in the dishwasher at all.

Recognizing that he was thoughtful enough to ease my evening chores made me grateful for him … even if I chose to move the dishes around later.

It’s so easy to think about and criticize people for their flaws, isn’t it?  If it’s true that we get more of what we focus on, then it’s time to forget the negatives!

Instead, focus on what you love about your spouse.

If you’re in a rough patch in your marriage, practice focusing on the positives in your relationship instead of the negatives.  This is, by far, the most influential marriage strengthening tips I’ve used in my life as it has had the most profound effect on the way I view my husband.

When you find yourself criticizing your spouse, stop yourself.  Take a moment to turn your thoughts to what you like about them, instead.

Focus on what you like and love about your spouse. Forget the negatives. We truly do get more of what we focus on. If you are having problems, begin focusing on the positive in your relationship and not the negative.

Most importantly, stop when you start to criticize your spouse. Turn your thinking to what you like about them and begin to see how your marriage gets better.

3. Be Kind

Have you ever noticed that people tend to treat those closest to them worse than their acquaintances or even total strangers?  We won’t go into details about how I feel about family, but this has been an observance of mine for a while now.

Treat your spouse with the same (or more) kindness and consideration you do for others.  Kindness matters in a marriage if you want to strengthen it.

Go the extra mile.  Just because they’re closer to you doesn’t make the sting any less when you treat your spouse unkindly.  Honestly, it hurts more.  Try not to bark at your spouse when you’ve had a bad day at work.  And, if you slip up, apologize.

This week, do something kind and out of the ordinary for your spouse.  Most importantly, don’t expect anything in return. You might get a hug, kiss, or simple thank you!

4. Show Appreciation

Make a habit of expressing your appreciation, even over little things.  When you do, you’ll find that your marriage will be strengthened and happier!  Plus, your spouse will probably appreciate the attitude of gratitude and be more willing to show more regular appreciation in return.

Showing appreciation doesn’t have to be a big event.  It can be as simple as “I love it when you smile” or “Thank you for cooking dinner.” There’s so many things to be grateful for in a relationship, but it takes mindful practice of looking for them!

Having been a stay at home mom and now a work from home mom, I’m overjoyed when my husband thanks me for the simple, routine chores I complete.

Ivy with husband on 3 year anniversary |

5. Ask For What You Want

Sometimes our needs aren’t being met in a relationship, but we can be too prideful to discuss it.  It’s not usual for us to put our needs aside hoping they figure it out.  At least, I know I’ve been guilty of this at times.

What I’ve found is that it becomes a painful relationship when you expect your spouse to read your mind, your needs aren’t met and you don’t speak up.

Learn to discuss with your partner, in a non-confrontational way, when you feel you need something from them.

If you’re out for improving your marriage, it’s also a good idea to have those frequent “check-ins” to see if there’s anything your spouse needs from you.  Because, you know, you don’t want them to expect you to read their minds either!

6. Listen With An Open Mind

A while back, I snapped at my husband for trying to tell me how to handle something in our morning routine.

“It’s more efficient this way” he says to me.

“Okay,” I retort, “but, this is how I do it.”

The spat continued for a couple minutes.  My car ride to drop my daughter off at school was quiet as I was lost in thought.  I’d gotten defensive because I wanted to continue doing things my way.

The truth is, while I want to do things my way, I didn’t need to get snippy with my husband.  I just created more drama than was necessary.

I should have listened without judging or getting defensive.

It’s better to strengthen your marriage by being open to the possibility that your spouse’s opinion or way of doing things is valid or as important as yours!

It doesn’t make either of you wrong for being different, but if you’re judging, being defensive and building walls, you can’t improve your marriage because you’re not open to possibilities and love.

7. Risk Opening Your Heart

I don’t know about you, but I came into my marriage with some baggage.  Not so much the physical kind that you can simply toss when the time is right, but the mental kind from bad relationships and things I’ve learned from my youth.

With your experiences, it’s likely you learn to build walls to protect your heart.  But, keeping those walls up and not letting your spouse in, fully, prevents the growth of love and a truly strong marriage.  Your marriage will stagnate under these conditions.

You must be willing to break down the walls and risk opening your heart, fully, to your spouse.  This will strengthen your marriage, keep it alive, and allow your love to constantly grow.

Bonus Marriage Strengthening Tip

If you don’t want counseling and find that discussing your desire to improve your marriage with your spouse is intimidating, here’s my best advice:

Do all these things to model the behavior you hope to see in your spouse.

It all takes consistent practice, but your spouse will feel the differences in how you act and speak.

You’re human though, so you’re bound to slip up and that’s okay. Just remember to apologize when you’re in the wrong.

It may take some time for your spouse to come around and begin showing signs of making some improvements.  And if it takes too terribly long, you’re going to have to make an effort to communicate that you’d like to improve or strengthen your marriage.

Finally, understand that love in marriage changes over time. You may miss the days of romance, intimacy, and infatuation, but it’s unrealistic to think love will always feel this way.  As your lives change and evolve, so does love.

I’m no marriage counselor, just a married woman who is learning as she goes.  These marriage strengthening tips may not solve every issue in your relationship.  But, they should lay the groundwork for a strong and healthy marriage.

Want to know how to work on your marriage without counseling? Skip the discomfort of talking about your relationship by trying these tips first!


I'm a work-from-home (previously stay-at-home) mom of two beautiful children and married since 2009. Because I prioritize my relationship with my husband, I've seen tremendous benefits in marriage and want to help couples achieve happiness in their relationships. When I'm not busy with work and family, you might find me blogging, out at a race track, or on a Rally course.

6 thoughts on “How To Work On Your Marriage Without Counseling – 7 Secrets

  1. After being married 6 years, I can definitely agree with all of these marriage secrets. Especially listening with an open mind. that one was the hardest for me, haha. You two are a beautiful couple!

  2. I have been married for more than 3 years and we also had fights back then, we still do but it’s lessened and we are stronger and we put more effort into our marriage. I really think that fights are normal because we can’t always be happy, we also need to experience pain and being heartache as it makes us learn more about each other and accept each other for what and who we really are. It makes the relationship and the couple grow stronger and of course, with the help of God we can go through anything.

    1. I think the longer you give it, the easier it becomes. You learn how each other fights as well as how you both react. Through this, with mindful practice, you can learn to lessen fighting through more effective communication that doesn’t trigger an unwanted response. At least, sometimes anyway.

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