I don’t subscribe to the notion that “marriages should be easy.” What I do believe is that marriages are hard work and they require time, attention and nurturing to continue to flourish. If you consider how much people change over the years, think about how a relationship would inevitably change as well - with two people growing individually within it!

Sometimes, partners stay intertwined together and don’t experience difficult “growing pains.” In my line of work, I’ve seen a lot of couples who have struggled with the ebb and flow of their marriages. The classic line, “He’s changed…” may be an accurate statement. But I would bet that “She’s changed…” and “We’ve changed…” all ring true as well. Why does there need to be something wrong with that – as long as focus on the marriage itself isn’t lost?

Couples who adapt well to change – and make modifications where needed – are more likely to do well in the long haul. Many married couples don’t consider the possibility that their marriages might benefit from a bit of “refreshing” every now and again. In other words, long time marriages (and even short time) can benefit from revisiting who they are as a couple, making a few changes and remembering how they ended up together in the first place.

Do you have the tools to get over marriage “bumps in the road” as well as other potential life storms?

If your marriage feels deadened or dull and there’s a growing gap between you and your partner, perhaps you don’t. This doesn’t mean you both cannot learn them now. In my book, it’s never too late to inject new life into your marriage – as long as you both are onboard for a little work to get yourself off and running again.

Let’s take a look at the “tools” I’m referring to:

• How are your communication skills? Are you listening, validating and empathizing with each other?

• How “emotionally safe” to you feel together? Do you still trust, respect and love each other, knowing that the other has your back?

• How is your relationship balance? Is there adequate attention paid to the “you,” “me” and “we” of the marriage?

• Is your marriage negatively impacted by old childhood wounds suffered by either of you?

• What are your individual, marriage and family goals? Have they changed and are you in sync?

• Have other problems gone unattended in your marriage such as resentment, lack of sexual intimacy or infidelity? Burying issues such as these can create a mountain of resentment between you which is ultimately toxic to your marriage.

One of my favorite clients are premarital couples. It’s a lot of fun to watch the fresh love and excitement over their coming nuptials – and to provide them their own “relationship toolbox” to use in the future when needed. When working with married couples on the various issues they bring in, I started wondering if a lot of their problems might have been avoided had they had a solid relationship foundation to begin with. The following “aha” moment ensued:

“Perhaps if married couples took a premarital counseling course, they might have a greater chance of preventing divorce!”

I realized that the chances of drawing in couples already married – for premarital work – would likely be slim to none. Then came my second “aha” moment:

“Perhaps married couples would benefit from a “refresher” course that touched on premarital counseling concepts as well as other topics potentially applicable to them.”

I wrote The Marriage Refresher Course for Couples for those who want to learn how to reconnect and breathe life back into their marriages. This is a totally unique concept that I’m very proud of – a workbook couples can use together to bridge the gap between them.

If you’re thinking that your marriage might need a little help, a couples therapist can certainly assist with that. Whether or not you prefer to seek out a local therapist – or use a workbook – the most important thing is to remember to pay attention to your marriage. With times as stressful as they are for so many people these days, we all need to be able to turn to our significant others and other important people for support.

At the end of the day, we only have each other.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Brookes Kift is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Marin County, California. She is also a writer, wife and mother of a precocious toddler. See more of Lisa’s Relationship Articles, Tips and Tools in The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com.