Few feelings are as exciting and satisfying as falling in love with someone. The spark we feel at the beginning of the relationship motivates us to invest our time and energy and there are times it feels almost magical.

Unfortunately, life has a way of shrinking magical moments into bits of pixie dust and maybe not long after you sweetly share your vows, you’re sharing housework neither of you wants to do. You’re stressed about what’s left in the checkbook, battling over who’s going to take a day off to stay home with a sick kid, and just can’t with the condition of the bathroom sink. Quiet, once-intimate moments have been replaced by debates over whose turn it is to take the dog out.

You still get along well, but instead of being with the person who once captivated your thoughts, you’ve found yourself with an often-annoying roommate. You can’t think of the last time you held hands or even kissed, much less shared a romantic, enjoyable evening just the two of you. The mundane replaced the magical and the only energy you reserve for each other is the holidays and times with friends that require that smile and occasional dress up.

If you feel this way, just know you aren’t alone. Many relationships and marriages that began passionately fade when confronted with our daily lives and the people we really are. But that doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. If you want to get a sense of how you can restore balance and maybe even add some spark back to your relationship, start by honestly answering these eight important questions.

Am I taking care of myself?

If you don’t take care of your own body, mind, and spirit, you’re less able to nurture your relationship and more likely to resent it. This includes how you eat, when you exercise, making sleep a priority, and taking measures to strengthen your mental and spiritual health. Without bringing the best version of you of to the relationship table, the outcome will most definitely be less than ideal. So please, first start with you. You are so worth the investment, as is your relationship.

Am I taking responsibility only for me?

Own only what you think and do, and let your partner do the same. Sometimes we spend our energy on the “of only” and the “why aren’t they” instead of owning our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors. We can really only manage ourselves, and the sooner we begin to focus on what we can control (and that doesn’t include our spouse) the better chance we’ll have at experiencing personal fulfillment.

Am I bringing safety to the relationship?

Over time, we tend to lose the act of gratitude, curiosity, and forgiveness, and they get replaced with expectations, judgment, and resentment. Without curiosity and forgiveness, the emotional safety of the relationship can’t be present, and this is a breeding ground for stale or even contemptuous communication… quite the opposite of what we really want.

Am I committed to win-win strategies?

When there I conflict – and let’s face it, conflict will come, are you committed to finding strategies that are a win for both of you or are you more interested in just getting your way? If we come to the table expecting to win as a team, then it’s much easier to develop ways to keep the relationship alive and well. Noone wants to be in a relationship or at least enjoys being in a relationship, where they feel like they’re set up to lose, right?

Am I practicing the Golden Rule?

Are you speaking to (and about) your spouse as you wish they would do to (and about) you? How we speak about those we love will most definitely impact the level of intimacy and enjoyment we feel when we are with them.

Is our marriage truly my priority?

If your relationship takes a back seat to your job, your hobbies, your kids, your family, your friends, or anything else, it’s not likely to be full of magical moments. Marriage takes the kind of investment you gave early on. Creating opportunities for fun, trying new activities, and encouraging new sights is a way to keep freshness in the marriage. Steadiness of the “usual” place is great, but mix it in with something new.

Am I my partner’s biggest cheerleader?

We all need people in our corner at the end of a long day and in a world where opinions abound and offenses ran rampant and there’s nothing quite like hearing, “I got you,” “I believe in you,” and “you can do it” from the person closest to you. Again, we can’t control what they say to us – but we certainly can bring encouragement to our spouse. It’s desperately needed these days!

Am I focused on calling out their best or seeing their worst?

Do you spend more time calling out the best in them or telling them what they do wrong? Taking time to notice the little things – and the big things, and being intentional about verbalizing those things, are like fresh water to soul. How often do we call out those traits we fell in love with them for? When was the las time you said, “I love so much that you are…” Try it today.

The beauty in this list of challenging questions is they don’t even require lots of money or expensive gifts. They are more about character development, bringing and seeing the best, and staying focused on what is working well. What if you’re not answering yes to the questions, have lost your desire to, or there’s been too much heartache to turn the ship around? We’ve got you. Care to Change is here to provide you with practical solutions for positive change that we all long for. Call us at 317-431-9979, or email help@caretochange.org.

And, if you’re wanting to know more about marriage and ways to connect with your spouse, we invite you to listen to our podcast on your favorite streaming app.

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