Even a good marriage can improve, and just about every couple can benefit from advice on how to be closer. Dr. Heba Kotb, marriage counselor and consultant of sex therapy, offers five basic tips for husbands and wives to make their relationship stronger, and all of them revolve around effective communication between the two partners.
Admit when you’re wrong
“Nobody likes to admit that he or she is wrong [but] this is the very first step in communication, the ability to say, ‘Okay, I’m sorry, I was wrong,” says Dr. Kotb. This is a general tip that applies to many situations you face in married life.
Be flexible and willing to compromise
You can’t expect your life as a married person to be the same as it was when you were single, because you need to take your partner into consideration. Dr. Kotb explains, “There is someone who is sharing your life with you. It is not yours alone anymore. Every merger has its losses… You have to know you are going to lose some things, maybe important things, maybe not important things. It’s variable between one couple and another.” For instance, if you like going on holiday to a certain place, but your spouse dislikes that place, you’ll need to find a vacation spot that you both enjoy. Marriage requires many of these adjustments, but since marriage usually adds positively to a person’s life, the partners should be willing to give things up and compromise. “Every blessing in life has to be paid for,” explains Dr. Kotb, adding that the idea of giving some things up is for both parties, not just for one party.
Make time to talk together
Dr. Kotb advises couples to set aside a couple of hours each week, maybe on the weekend, to talk about anything but problems. “Sometimes, after a few months or the very first years of the marriage, a couple stops talking to each other,” says Dr. Kotb. Talking is very important because it allows you to express what’s inside and get it out into the open. When a couple talks regularly, says Dr. Kotb, “It makes it easy for one party to ‘read’ the other one, and to know everything about the other one.” This kind of communication is essential so that you and your spouse maintain an understanding of one another.
Communicate during sex
Enjoyable sex for both partners is important for a happy marriage, and an honest dialogue during sex helps partners to know how to make it enjoyable for each other. Dr. Kotb explains, “There is something called a sexual print, something like a finger print and this means how you get joy out of sex, very different from other people. Every person has his own sexual print. For the other [partner] to know about it, you just have to use trial and error and you have to talk. You have to say, ‘Yes, this is okay for me; this is not okay for me. This is painful for me; this is joyful for me. This is exciting for me; this is not exciting for me, etc.” Dr. Kotb also advises couples who are experiencing serious sexual problems to seek help from a professional therapist rather than try to solve problems on their own.
Be very honest
If you’ve done something that you know will make your spouse angry or sad, it’s much better to be honest and tell him yourself rather than letting him find out from someone else.