Raising kids and keeping your relationship strong doesn't come with an instruction booklet. But these tips from clinical psychologist Alexandra Solomon, Ph.D., on how to be a better wife or husband come pretty close.

By Cheryl Maguire
October 25, 2019
Advertisement
Getty Images

"The car in front of you paid your toll."

At first, I felt confused when the toll collector made that statement. Then I realized he meant that my boyfriend (at the time) paid it for me. It was at this moment that I thought to myself, "this guy's a keeper." And I did, in fact, end up marrying him.

The toll was only $1, so that wasn't why I was impressed. His gesture made me feel that he cared about me and that he was thinking of me. It reminded me of something you see in a rom-com movie. So I try to reciprocate that kind of gesture as often as possible.

Next year we will celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary. But even sometimes I wonder: how do couples get so far? To learn more about what makes a healthy marriage, I spoke to relationship expert Alexandra Solomon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Loving Bravely. During her work with couples, she found that the most important aspect of being in a healthy relationship starts with yourself and your willingness to view marriage as a classroom.

"We must accept that change is inevitable, and the best we can do is meet the changes with curiosity instead of resistance," says Dr. Solomon. "Part of viewing marriage as a classroom is knowing that we bring our past with us. It's important to be willing to look at how our old wounds, patterns, and triggers get activated with our partners."

Dr. Solomon offered the following tips to help foster a healthy relationship with your partner.

Take Care Of Yourself

Being a great spouse is based on making sure your basic needs—such as eating healthy food, exercising, and getting good sleep—are being met.

"I know that I am a better wife when I take care of myself. When I am not getting enough sleep, exercise, and laughter, I feel bitter and irritable," says Dr. Solomon. "The more stressed out I am, the more I see my responsibilities to provide care to my husband and teens as a burden rather than a blessing. When I am burned out, I start to feel like a victim and that makes me less able to ask for what I need—help, praise, a break."

Another aspect of self-care is to do things that make you happy such as going out to lunch with your friends or reading a book.

"We cannot pour from an empty cup, so we need to make sure we are engaged in activities that provide meaning, connection, and joy. It is demanding to provide care for others and doing things that feel restorative and that inspired passion prevents caregiver burnout," says Dr. Solomon.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed it is important to take a time out instead of making a comment you may regret later.

Connect Through Touch

Dr. Solomon explained that touching your spouse communicates, "We're on the same team."

"Touch helps couples maintain connection and cushions the blow of the inevitable daily irritations of family life. It's important for couples to have all kinds of touch in their relationship, not just a sexual touch," says Dr. Solomon.

In working with couples Dr. Solomon found that often, touch is an ask, "Do you want to make love?" which can feel like another demand on an already-overwhelmed partner. She recommends touching outside the bedroom which can reduce stress and help couples feel connected.

Make Time For Dates

Dr. Solomon stresses the importance of spending time alone with your partner especially when you are a parent and/or you have demanding careers.

"It's so important to remember that you are partners/lovers/friends and not just two people running the small business that is your household. If evenings are hard because of kids and jobs, then you could also meet up during the day," says Dr. Solomon.

Check-In

It is important to check in with each other and to think about your partner throughout the day. Dr. Solomon recommends that you should be aware of what your husband or wife is nervous or excited about and then ask questions about those feelings.

"Having windows into each other's world's builds connection," says Dr. Solomon.

Give Them The Benefit Of The Doubt

Dr. Solomon suggests that if you feel upset about something your partner did, approach them in a descriptive rather than accusatory way. She recommends thinking about, "this is what happened, and this the story I'm telling myself about what happened."

"Your efforts to separate the facts from your interpretation of the facts will go a long way toward getting you more of what you want and need—validation, recognition, accountability, empathy—and less of what you don't want—defensiveness, counter-complaint," she said.

If you are the one that did something wrong then take responsibility for it and apologize.

Your Partner Isn't You

When you feel upset about an issue Dr. Solomon recommends saying, "I'm feeling upset by this thing you did. Can you help me understand what's going on for you?"

She says that by approaching the situation with curiosity instead of judgment means that you understand that your husband has a different way of perceiving the world. This will reduce conflicts and led to a better relationship.

"Happy couples accept that they are two different people and approach misunderstandings with curiosity rather than accusation," says Dr. Solomon.

Disagreement=Opportunity

In working with couples Dr. Solomon found that couples that have a healthy married view disagreements as an opportunity to understand their partner's internal world instead of a fight that needs to be "won."

Ask, Don't Assume

If something is important, ask for it. Some of Dr. Solomon's clients will push back on this idea saying, "If I have to ask for it, it's meaningless." But she says that is a mistake since people aren't mind-readers. She further explains that when we don't ask for what we want, our need ends up coming out sideways, usually in the form of a complaint.

Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents magazine, AARP, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessing and Your Teen Magazine. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05

Comments (11)

Anonymous
July 27, 2020
Hi everyone, My name is Clara I am here to make a review about how Dr Charles helped me in fixing my marriage and also to those out there seeking for help and advice on how to save your broken marriage, few months ago I was having issues with my husband I noticed he has been having an affair with another young lady in his place of work I confronted him but he got angry and say to my face that it’s true, as if that was not enough he went ahead by telling me he doesn’t love me anymore that he wanted a divorce I was to devastated and confused, I pleaded with him that I don’t want a divorce but he insisted,before then I had heard about Dr Charles while browsing on the internet how he use to help people with broken marriages and relationships, I gave it a thought and I decided to contact him, he promise to put a smile on my face again, I followed his instructions and after 3days I was so surprised to see my husband kneeling before me and apologizing for what he had said about the divorce, this is something I never expected, I thank Dr Charle for what he has done for me, now am living happily with my husband and he has stopped seeing the other woman. Please if you are having issues like this I advice you to contact Dr Charles he can help you as well. His email: drcharlesspell@gmail.com WhatsApp: +2348146708557
Anonymous
June 27, 2020
Testimony By Lizzy Desler. How to get your ex back fast! I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore. So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a priest,because it has really worked for him too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the priest whom he visited. Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the priest assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a priest. So, i will advice you out there if you have any problem contact Priestbacasim, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you.. Email him at: Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com or call +2348144258822 / whatssapp, you can also visit his website at https://pristbacasim.art.blog/
Anonymous
May 30, 2020
What a miracle to have my ex back and i need to share this great testimony... I just want to say thanks doctor abaka for taking time to help me cast the spell that {now my husband},who suddenly lost interest in me after six month of engagement,but today we are married and we are more happier than never before, I am really short of words and joyful, and i don't know how much to show my appreciation to you doctor abaka you are a God sent to restore broken relationship.he deeply enjoy helping people achieve their desires, find true love,getting their ex lovers back,stop abusive relationships,find success,attract happiness,find soul mates and more,contact him today. and let him show you the wonders and amazement of his Love Spell System. He deliver results at his best in real spell casting,email him for help on drabakaspelltemple@gmail. com or you can also call him on +2349063230051.
Anonymous
May 3, 2020
Testimony By Lizzy Desler. How to get your ex back fast! I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore. So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a priest,because it has really worked for him too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the priest whom he visited. Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the priest assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a priest. So, i will advice you out there if you have any problem contact Priestbacasim, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you.. Email him at: Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com or call +2348144258822 / whatssapp, you can also visit his website at https://pristbacasim.art.blog/
Anonymous
May 3, 2020
Testimony By Lizzy Desler. How to get your ex back fast! I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore. So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a priest,because it has really worked for him too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the priest whom he visited. Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the priest assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a priest. So, i will advice you out there if you have any problem contact Priestbacasim, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you.. Email him at: Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com or call +2348144258822 / whatssapp, you can also visit his website at https://pristbacasim.art.blog/
Anonymous
April 28, 2020
Ever since my husband got me divorced for the past 2 years, i v'e not been my self. I was reviewing some post of how i could get back my husband then, i saw a testimony shared by Marina Choas from SWEDEN about a spell caster named Dr. tunde. I contacted Marina Chaos to confirm about how Dr. tunde helped her and she clarified everything to me of how he helped her and that gave me the courage to get in touch with Dr. tunde for help. Dr. tunde assured me that my days of sorrows will be over within 48hours after he has finished with his work. I followed his instructions he gave to me because i had the believe, faith, hope and trust in him. Verily i say to you today that i and my husband are back together and i can proudly say and testify to the world of what Dr. tunde did for me. Contact him today via E-mail:(babatundesolutioncentre1@gmail.com) OR call him or whatsapp him +2348143581382 if you seek his help. Also specialize in treating all kinds of illness, HERPES VIRUS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, BRAIN DISEASE, INFERTILITY, DIABETES AND MORE
Anonymous
March 27, 2020
Strong And Powerful Love Spell To Win Your Ex Back.. I have decided that i am going to spend the whole day on the internet just to make sure that a lot of people are able to read this my testimony about Dr.happy who is a powerful spell caster from Africa, After been abandon by my lover i was so lonely that very day that i decided to go through the net for some relationships tips, I never knew that this was the road map that will secure the return of my lover. After reading a lot of tips on how to restore my relationship in a more better way i discovered that Dr.happy has a lot of recommendation than other spell casters, So with this i had my mind made up that Dr.happy was the right person for the job, And i contacted Dr.happy through his details which i saw on the internet and i was so happy that i chose to work with Dr.happy because his work was 100% perfect and the spell brought my lover back to me with fast relief you can also contact him for help now email.. happylovespell2@gmail.com Website...happylovespell2.webnode.com/ Whatsapp/cal +2348133873774
Anonymous
February 27, 2020
Hello i'm so happy sharing this,I still can't thank you enough powerful Priest Ade,My husband left  for a younger lady because i was unable to give birth due to PCOS,I was so devastated i was lonely i cried a lot i even tried taking my life, Then my friend told me about this great man Priest Ade who helped her made her marriage perfect,I also went online and did more research about him i was not too sure but i decided to give him a try he told me not to worry everything was going to be alright,He told me all i needed to pay which was a convenient fee and i did and he did his work and sent me video proof and told me to wait 24hrs that he will be back,The next morning to my greatest surprise it was shawn my husband on his knees begging i'm so happy,It didn't stop there,I'm proud to say that i'm 3 weeks pregnant thank you so much Priest Ade i'm forever grateful  ancientspiritspellcast@yahoo. com or ancientspiritspellcast@gmail. com  WhatsApp +2347059715465
Anonymous
February 26, 2020
What a miracle to have my ex back and i need to share this great testimony... I just want to say thanks doctor abaka for taking time to help me cast the spell that {now my husband},who suddenly lost interest in me after six month of engagement,but today we are married and we are more happier than never before, I am really short of words and joyful, and i don't know how much to show my appreciation to you doctor abaka you are a God sent to restore broken relationship.he deeply enjoy helping people achieve their desires, find true love,getting their ex lovers back,stop abusive relationships,find success,attract happiness,find soul mates and more,contact him today. and let him show you the wonders and amazement of his Love Spell System. He deliver results at his best in real spell casting,email him for help on drabakaspelltemple@gmail.com or you can also call him on +2349063230051 website : http://drabakaspelltemple.blogspot.com.
Anonymous
February 26, 2020
What a miracle to have my ex back and i need to share this great testimony... I just want to say thanks doctor abaka for taking time to help me cast the spell that {now my husband},who suddenly lost interest in me after six month of engagement,but today we are married and we are more happier than never before, I am really short of words and joyful, and i don't know how much to show my appreciation to you doctor abaka you are a God sent to restore broken relationship.he deeply enjoy helping people achieve their desires, find true love,getting their ex lovers back,stop abusive relationships,find success,attract happiness,find soul mates and more,contact him today. and let him show you the wonders and amazement of his Love Spell System. He deliver results at his best in real spell casting,email him for help on drabakaspelltemple@gmail.com or you can also call him on +2349063230051 website : http://drabakaspelltemple.blogspot.com.
Anonymous
February 26, 2020
What a miracle to have my ex back and i need to share this great testimony... I just want to say thanks doctor abaka for taking time to help me cast the spell that {now my husband},who suddenly lost interest in me after six month of engagement,but today we are married and we are more happier than never before, I am really short of words and joyful, and i don't know how much to show my appreciation to you doctor abaka you are a God sent to restore broken relationship.he deeply enjoy helping people achieve their desires, find true love,getting their ex lovers back,stop abusive relationships,find success,attract happiness,find soul mates and more,contact him today. and let him show you the wonders and amazement of his Love Spell System. He deliver results at his best in real spell casting,email him for help on drabakaspelltemple@gmail.com or you can also call him on +2349063230051 website : http://drabakaspelltemple.blogspot.com.