Marriage is hard. Being a good partner in marriage is harder than being a good parent or excelling on the job. Both of those things take work, perseverance and patience. But marriage is just ... well, different.
Like most marriages, mine has had its share of ups and downs. Mostly ups but I'd be lying if I said there were more than a few "I don't think we're going to make it" moments over the past 10 years, particularly in the early settling-in months of our marriage.
Some may find the phrase "fake it 'til you make it" distasteful or disingenuous, but real life is full of real doubts, real problems and rough patches. If you're experiencing second thoughts or dissatisfaction in your relationship, consider the fake it 'til you make it approach versus writing your marriage off as something disposable.
1. Schedule couple time.
If you're feeling frustrated, upset or even just ho-hum about your partner, your knee-jerk reaction may be avoidance. Make sure you're clearing time to do things together, whether that's date night, downtime or sexy time. That's right, I said make time for sexy time.
Be deliberate about your time spent as a couple and you might surprise yourself and find that you're looking forward to it.
2. Schedule alone time.
I'm a firm believer in alone time. Even the most extroverted extrovert needs at least some alone time. If you're going through relationship troubles or even just experiencing ambivalence, taking that extra time to take care of you is all the more important. Meditate, exercise, or do something that gives you peace. If you take the time to nurture yourself, you'll be a better partner.
3. Make a list of your partner's good qualities.__
Sit down and make a list of the things you like about your partner. There's something that attracted you to him or her in the first place. Focus on those things. If you're in fake it 'til you make it mode, it helps to keep your mind on positive traits.
4. Make sex a daily thing.
I'm not suggesting you fake that but if you're in a committed relationship with your partner and are struggling with your feelings about the relationship, have sex. It reinforces closeness and those lovey-dovey romantic feelings, and, well, do you really need other reasons to have sex?
5. Stop holding grudges.
Yes, this is much easier to preach than to practice. But seriously, stop holding grudges. There are things about your significant other that will drive you batsh*t crazy. There may be things about him (or her) that fall into the realm of character flaws and you have to decide whether or not you can live with them and accept them.
Letting go of your grudges is a hard thing to do, but making a focused effort to do it will help you to focus on the positive attributes of your relationship, which is very important.
6. Accept responsibility for your actions.
This goes along with "stop holding grudges." You have your flaws too and the potholes in your relationship probably have a least a little to do with you. Fake it 'til you make it pairs well with "give a little, get a little." While you're working on your relationship, be cognizant of things you're doing to stall it.
7. Realize that all marriages have rocky patches.
I'm probably not the first person that said "I do" with unrealistic expectations of what "happily ever after" would look like. I got married in October to a man I'd had only one notable argument with during a two-plus year courtship. It came as a complete shock to my system when things got tough two weeks before Christmas.
Sometimes love, like and common ground aren't enough to make a marriage go. Even the best marriages weather some storms and to expect idyllic perfection? Probably not very realistic.
There's no black and white answer or a cure-all for a struggling marriage, but if you're coasting and feeling "meh" about your partner and not ready to throw in the towel, these little tricks might help you figure out where you want to be.
I'm no expert on relationships, or anything else, really. I'm just a wife who stuck it out during a particularly rough period. And I'm glad I did.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.