Is your marriage headed for the rocks? Use these tips to rebuild it

Learn to notice your partner more especially during the first seven years of your marriage.

Learn to notice your partner more especially during the first seven years of your marriage.

What you need to know:

  • Your marriage will need the same type of practical skills you’d need to revitalise a business.
  • Long-lasting marriages and businesses are built on the foundation of shared priorities and values.
  • Learn to notice your partner more especially during the first seven years of your marriage.


Although Valentine’s Day is globally hailed as the annual celebration of love and romance, it is also a day when most couples file for divorce. In 2018, data from Paymentsense indicated that February 14 is often a busy day for solicitors, attorneys, and legal services across the world. In the US, that year’s February 14 saw an increase of 549 percent in couples seeking to begin separation proceedings. Although the number of divorce filings on Valentine’s Day may be much smaller in Kenya, the number of marriages in distress may be just as large as elsewhere in the world.

Instead of filing for divorce or seeking separation proceedings on Valentine’s Day, you can use the theme of love that dominates to put your marriage back on track. According to relationships counselor Peninah Mwangi, instead of assuming that you can rectify your failing marriage on one day, you should embark on 30 days of love, during which you will initiate actions that bring back the lost flavor. How do you do this?

Go back to noticing your partner

According to research conducted by psychologist John Gottman, you should learn to notice your partner more especially during the first seven years of your marriage. Couples who stay happily married pick on their partners’ attempts at getting noticed at least 86 percent of the time. However, couples who get divorced pick these attempts by only 33 percent. This is echoed by psychologist Dr. Chris Hart. “Responding consistently to your partner’s quest for attention will lead to emotional intimacy, lots of romance, and good sex life. Non-response leads to divorce courts even in the absence of overt conflict,” says Dr. Hart.

Doing it like a business

According to Dr. Hart, your marriage will need the same type of practical skills you’d need to revitalise a business. Your love won’t fix everything. For example, it won’t build you a house or invest for the future. While you can share responsibilities, it may not be possible to split chores equally. “Even if you both work the same hours, one of you will end up managing the house.” Focus on what you’re better at. Additionally, according to Andrea Goeglein, a psychologist and the author of Don’t Die Waiting to be Brave, long-lasting marriages and businesses are built on the foundation of shared priorities and values. “Looking for long-lasting marriage or relationship is similar to being in the market to make an acquisition. You will get pitches from many salesmen. Don’t always go for the most compelling salesperson, aim for the best service provider,” she says.

Choose to be nice

You will need to choose to be nice. According to Gottman, happier couples who are nice towards one another have a ratio of five positive interactions to every negative interaction. Your niceness doesn’t have to be made up of earth-shaking gestures. “A smile, a head nod, touching, doing small chores for one another, or even just grunting to show you’re listening are all positives,” he says. Dr. Hart adds that your nice attitude should not be thrown out of the window when you’re fighting or if you’re highly independent, reserved, competitive, or argumentative.

Sex and Intimacy

According to Dr. Hart, do not view sex as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Also, do not feel entitled to it. Figure out and do things that will result in you getting more mutual quality time. Ms. Mwangi adds that it is important to remember that when sex becomes an obligation or an entitlement, the risk of mutual satisfaction and arousal is low. “If you’re a man, understand how arousal works for women. Unlike men, women are not always ready to roll and climax. They need emotional and physical preparation, which isn’t always possible when sex is assumed to be a duty,” she says. Dr. Hart recommends that you start discussing your turn-ons more frequently. “Talk about what gets the two of you in the mood for sex,” he says. “Remember to always go to bed at the same time in order to strengthen your connection with your partner regardless of whether you will have sex or not.” Apparently, he says, separate bedtimes encourage harmful habits such as sexting outside marriage.

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