Unless someone is completely vicious, no one enters a marriage with the intention of destroying it, yet the divorce rate gets higher every year and couples, even if they don’t divorce, are often unhappy and in loveless marriages. By being aware of what you may be doing in your marriage that could eventually destroy it, you can create a successful and flourishing relationship:

1. Complacency. Just because you fell in love doesn’t mean you’re going to live happily ever after. Marriage takes work. Stay interested in your partner by talking about your lives, your work, and your relationships. But be thoughtful by not bombarding your partner with mindless chatter or endless complaints lest you eventually tune your partner out. Get therapeutic help for chronic issues.

2. Taking each other for granted. Don’t assume that your marriage is infallible. You’ve heard the stories of couples breaking up when you thought they had the perfect marriage. This can happen if you only see their faults and forget how special they are to you. Show and speak appreciation daily. Little gestures take no time and go a long way. Begin and end the day with an appreciation.

3. Not paying attention. Is your spouse all of a sudden moody, angry, distant, sad, or uninterested? Or overly happy or concerned about their appearance? Or has there been a death, a new job, or any major life change, even if it’s positive? Pay attention to these signs or events. They could signal trouble, such as an affair, an illness (physical or mental), a job loss, or income changes. No sign is too small to address. If you’re paying attention, and sense something is not right, address your concerns.

4. Not enough time together. Of course, we all have busy lives and individual interests, but you did get married for the companionship and partnership. Don’t forget that and make sure you schedule time alone with each other. Do things together that you used to love doing. Leave the kids at home, leave your work behind, and just focus on your partner. If not, you’ll just become strangers.

5. Lack of communication. If you’re not connecting verbally, physically, or emotionally, your lack of communication will cause marital problems. Nothing is ever solved by not talking or distancing yourself from your partner. Make it a priority to make time to get current with each other. Open communication creates healthy relationships.

6. Sweeping issues under the rug. Nobody likes conflict, but sweeping issues under the rug ultimately causes more damage than addressing them directly. You think they’ll disappear by not talking about them, but in reality, they gain momentum, until eventually they wreak havoc and cause resentment. Resolve conflict by learning conflict resolution skills. It will change the potential for disaster to the potential for a wonderfully connected relationship.

6. Unresolved arguments. The biggest cause of failed relationships is unresolved arguments. These are the fights that repeat themselves and escalate as time goes on; giving us that hopeless feeling that nothing will ever change or be the same again. The root of these arguments goes deep, so it’s critical to find out what you’re really fighting about. Each individual has a personal wound and story that’s at the core of these repetitive arguments that creates their unique “core issue,” which could be the issue of abandonment, control, anger, etc. By connecting one’s core issue to the current argument, couples can open up communication and connection, and find resolution, rather than repeating the same argument over and over.

There’s no reason why you can’t make your marriage a success. By following these marital guidelines, the payoff is huge…you get an enriching, healthy, and lasting relationship with the person you love.

Author's Bio: 

Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in O Magazine, O Newsletter, Reader's Digest, Time.com, Prevention.com, and WebMD.com. She's an expert at HitchedMag.com, where she contributes monthly articles on hot relationship topics. She's appeared on TV, Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. For more information, please visit www.sharonrivkin.com.