5 Ways to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great

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Co-Author: Liam Naden

What's the difference between a great marriage and an ordinary or unhappy one? Couples who have a great marriage do things differently to the rest. If you want to turn your marriage into a great one (and let's face it, who doesn't?) then here are five things to start doing - and keep doing - right away. These are small actions or gestures that all couples in deeply satisfying and truly intimate marriages do.

1. Smile and laugh with your spouse – often!

Let me ask you a question: "When was the last time you smiled at or laughed with your husband or wife?" If things are not going so well between you, I would be willing to bet that it was probably quite a while ago. At the very least, you probably don't do it very often. But sharing a humorous moment or story, or even just giving them a genuine and warm smile does two very powerful things to improve your marriage. First, it makes you feel good when you are around your spouse. And second, it makes them feel good about you. Make a conscious effort to smile and laugh with your spouse - as many times a day as you can.

2. Compliment your spouse - frequently!

When we have been with someone for a while, it becomes easy to take them for granted. Not only that, we tend to forget about all of the wonderful things about our spouse that attracted us to them in the first place.

Make it your goal to see how many good things you can find to compliment your spouse on - and do it! You do not need to be dramatic with them about every little thing. However, a heartfelt and genuine recognition of something they have done or something about them (a quality they may have) sends them a powerful and positive message: "You are a great person and I love you for who you are and the things you do.

I really appreciate you." Again, make this into a habit and see the positive difference it makes.

3. Focus on the positive - always!

As life unfolds, it is easy to get caught up with all of our problems and stresses. But when we do, it's our marriage which suffers the most. However, marriage does not need to be filled with problems and stress. The truth is, what you focus on you get more of. There are always two sides to every situation, so why not concentrate on the positive side? When you do, you will see more positive things show up in your life. Try an experiment: spend one day in which you only say positive things and look for the positive in every situation. Give it a try and see what happens!

4. Build upon what you have in common – continually!

Common interests, feelings, attitudes, and thoughts are what gels a satisfying relationship together and keeps it strong. Focus on what you and your spouse have in common, not on your differences. Find ways to expand your interests together and you will make your relationship a happier place for you both to be.

5. Put yourself first - regularly!

Many people have a problem with the idea of putting themselves first. They think this means being selfish, insensitive, heartless and even ruthless.

But putting yourself first really means to have a healthy sense of self whereas you recognize that for everyone around you to be happy (including your spouse) then you need to be happy. You need to be living an inspired and authentic life where you feel you are able to be yourself. So be yourself! Explore what drives you, what makes you feel good and what makes your heart sing. Furthermore, do not worry about what anyone else might think - the people who matter do not mind and the people who mind do not matter.

A great marriage is not created by having no problems to deal with, having great "luck" or "working hard" at it. It is achieved by doing a few simple (even basic) things on a continual basis. Try turning the above five practices into habits a little bit at a time and you will see what a truly exciting and fulfilling marriage you can have.