Marriage is difficult. Some say it’s a full-time job. That may be a reason why as many as 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.
For couples who are experiencing marriage troubles, there is no golden solution to repair your relationship. However, given the common causes of divorce, there may be some surprising ways to bring you and your spouse closer together and build a stronger marriage that can withstand these harsh realities.
1. Drink Together, And Drink Similar Amounts
It’s no surprise that when one spouse drinks significantly more alcohol than the other, it can significantly increase the odds of a divorce. Alcohol abuse is often named as a cause of divorce, and may also be part of a much larger problem involving domestic violence or psychological abuse.
However, one study found that spouses who drink similar amounts of alcohol have stronger marriages. When both spouses drink moderately – and even more surprising, when both spouses drink equally heavily – they tend to report higher marital satisfaction than couples where one spouse drinks more than the other. This may be due to these couples spending more quality time together as they consume alcohol.
The study does still warn against heavy drinking, however, as it may have negative impacts on health and on other aspects of the relationship, such as each spouse’s role as a parent. If you and your spouse are going to drink, it is best to do so together and to moderate each other’s consumption through the night.
2. Stop Being Overly Affectionate
When you first get married, you may be in what many call “the honeymoon phase.” While you might assume that exaggerated feelings of affection and idealization will build a stronger relationship, one study found that it may do the opposite.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that spouses who are overly affectionate at the beginning of their marriage are more likely to divorce as those feelings fizzle away. Even if you and your spouse firmly believe you are meant for each other, try to avoid expressing over-the-top displays of affection. It may help strengthen your marriage once the honeymoon phase ends.
3. Try Living Apart
A major stepping stone of many relationships is moving in with a partner. By the time you are married, many people expect you to have been living with your partner for some time. But some couples nowadays are choosing to live apart.
Couples living apart are not entirely unheard of. Some are simply enduring a long-distance relationship, others may not have the financial security to live together. But according to one study, living apart provides a way for some couples to advance the relationship while privately dealing with feelings of insecurity, anxiety, vulnerability and other emotions that can put a marriage into jeopardy.
While living apart may not be ideal for every marriage, it may be beneficial to try if your marriage anxieties are affecting your relationship and your home life.
4. Try Sleeping Apart
You may not need to move out of the house to escape problems at home. You may just need to move out of the room.
For some spouses, marital tension stems from sleep – or lack thereof. While some couples benefit from sleeping next to one another, others may have quite the opposite experience.
One study found that trouble sleeping and problems in the relationship may happen simultaneously, and may affect one another. If one partner has problems sleeping or has bad sleeping habits, such as loud snoring, it often affects the other partner as well. This increases stress for both spouses and may prevent either from getting a full night’s rest.
The solution for some couples: sleep divorce. A sleep divorce is nowhere near as ominous as an actual divorce – it simply involves sleeping in separate rooms (or sometimes, just separate beds). While you may lose out on the intimacy of sleeping together, you may benefit greatly from the increase in sleep quality, which could make all the difference in your relationship.
5. Watch More Romantic Movies Together
Movie night may be more than just a date idea. A study from the University of Rochester found that watching romantic movies with your spouse may have a profound effect on the strength of your marriage.
The study evaluated 174 couples and found that those who watched and discussed five romantic movies together every month had less than half the divorce rate as those who did not, over the course of three years. Even more surprising, watching and discussing movies about relationships was found to be as effective as therapy and other marriage counseling programs.
The next time you’re wondering how to spend your time together, consider a romance film. It may bring you and your spouse closer together.