When the Easy Road Turns Rocky in relationships.

Strengthening Your Marriage with Resilience

Perhaps you didn’t expect your marriage to be a walk in the park. At the same time, you may not have anticipated it’d be so tough at times. Some days it feels like you’re on a smooth path, hand in hand, everything just clicks. Then, there are those days when it feels like you’re both on a rocky trail, struggling to find your footing.

Example of a Couples Who Found Their Relationship Struggling

Consider Sarah and Alex. They’ve been married for eight years, and like any couple, they’ve had their ups and downs. Lately, though, it’s been more downs than ups. They find themselves in a rut, caught up in the daily grind, leaving little room for the warmth and connection they used to share. Their conversations have become a loop of “Who’s picking up the kids?” or “Did you pay the electric bill?” The deep, meaningful chats and laughter that used to fill their evenings are now rare guests. It’s like they’re living parallel lives under the same roof.

It’s Normal to Hit Rough Patches Now & Then

Many couples go through these phases where things just seem harder than they used to be. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re not alone, and more importantly, there’s a way through it.

That’s where Imago Relationship Therapy comes in. It’s a practical approach that helps couples like Sarah and Alex – and maybe you and your partner – navigate through the tough times and come out stronger on the other side. Imago teaches you to really hear each other, reconnect on a deeper level, and understand what makes your relationship tick.

In this article, we’ll dive into three actionable tips from Imago Relationship Therapy that you can start using right now to steer your marriage back onto a path where both of you feel heard, valued, and deeply connected. Let’s get started on turning those rocky days into opportunities for growth and deeper love.


How Active Listening Can Transform Your Marriage

1. Embrace the Power of Active Listening

You’ve probably heard about active listening before, and yes, it sounds pretty straightforward. But in the heat of those not-so-great marriage moments, it’s often the first thing that flies out the window. This is where the magic of Imago Relationship Therapy really shines.

Active listening, in the Imago context, isn’t just about nodding along while your partner speaks. It’s about truly hearing and understanding them, beyond just the words they’re saying. It’s listening to connect, not just to respond. Think about it — when was the last time you felt genuinely heard by your partner? It feels pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

Here’s a simple way to start: the next time your partner is sharing something, resist the urge to interrupt, solve, or judge. Instead, try to really focus on their words. Imagine stepping into their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Once they’re done speaking, reflect back what you heard them say. You could start with, “What I’m hearing you say is…” or “It sounds like you feel…” This mirroring technique not only shows that you are paying attention but also helps clarify any misunderstandings right off the bat.

But why stop at just reflecting? Take it a step further by validating their feelings. Say something like, “I can see why you’d feel that way,” or “It makes sense to me that you’re upset about this.” Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say, but it does mean you recognize their feelings as valid and important.

And finally, respond with empathy. Empathy is the heart and soul of active listening. It’s about connecting with the emotions behind your partner’s words. Try saying, “I can only imagine how tough that must be for you,” or “I’m really sorry you’re going through this.” Empathy bridges the gap between understanding and feeling what your partner is experiencing.

By practicing this level of active listening, you’re not just improving communication; you’re building a deeper emotional connection. It’s like giving your partner a verbal hug. And the best part? It’s likely they’ll start reciprocating. This creates a cycle of positive, empathetic communication, which is a game changer for any marriage that’s hit a rough patch.

Remember Sarah and Alex? When they started actively listening to each other, they began to understand the stresses and pressures they each were facing. This understanding paved the way for more patience, less frustration, and a renewed sense of partnership.

So, give active listening a try. It might feel a bit awkward or forced at first, but stick with it. The payoff in your relationship could be more significant than you ever imagined.


Get Curious About the Person You Love the Most

2. Rediscover Your Partner Through Curiosity

It’s easy to think you know everything about your partner, especially if you’ve been together for a while. But here’s a little secret – there’s always something new to discover, no matter how long you’ve been a pair. This is where curiosity, a key ingredient in Imago Relationship Therapy, comes into play.

Curiosity is about approaching your partner with a mindset of wanting to learn more, just like when you first started dating. Remember those days? The excitement of learning new things about each other, the joy in uncovering shared interests or laughing about quirks. That’s the energy we’re aiming to recapture.

Start by asking open-ended questions. Instead of the usual “How was your day?”, try “What was something that stood out for you today?” or “Did anything make you laugh today?” These types of questions encourage your partner to share more than just the day-to-day specifics. They open the door to deeper conversations, bringing back those moments of discovery and connection.

Another great strategy is to engage in new experiences together. Maybe there’s a hobby your partner has always wanted to try, or perhaps there’s a place you’ve both been curious about visiting. Dive into these new adventures together. Engaging in new activities not only creates fun memories but also gives you both fresh topics to talk about and explore.

Now, let’s talk about listening – yes, again! But this time, with a twist. When you’re rediscovering your partner, listen not just to their words, but also to their emotions, their body language, and what they might not be saying. This level of attentive curiosity can reveal new layers of your partner’s thoughts and feelings.

Remember Sarah and Alex? When they started to approach each other with curiosity, they were surprised at how much they had yet to learn about each other. Sarah discovered Alex’s growing interest in photography, something he had put aside since their college days. Alex learned about Sarah’s passion for community work, which she rarely talked about. This new understanding brought them closer, rekindling the excitement and intimacy that had faded over time.

Curiosity doesn’t just bring new knowledge; it brings appreciation and a deeper emotional connection. It’s about seeing your partner in a new light, discovering who they are now, not just who they were when you first met.

So go ahead, get curious. Ask questions, engage in new activities, and listen with a heart to understand. You might just be surprised at how much more there is to love about your partner.


So much more than date night

3. Commit to Regular ‘Re-connection’ Rituals

Think of your relationship like a garden. It needs regular tending, or else it starts to wilt. This is where committing to regular ‘re-connection’ rituals, a concept inspired by Imago Relationship Therapy, plays a crucial role.

‘Re-connection’ rituals are those little, intentional moments you spend together, ensuring your relationship stays vibrant and healthy. It’s about creating specific times and practices to consciously connect with each other. These rituals are the antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life that often pushes your relationship to the back burner.

So, what do these rituals look like? They can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. It could be a daily 10-minute coffee together in the morning, without phones or distractions, just catching up and enjoying each other’s company. Or maybe it’s a weekly walk in the park, where you both leave behind the stresses of the week and just focus on being with each other.

Another powerful ritual involves gratitude and appreciation. Spend a few minutes each day sharing something you appreciate about each other. “I really appreciated how you helped me with the dishes today,” or “I love how you made me laugh when I was feeling down.” This practice not only fosters positivity but also reminds you both of the value you bring to each other’s lives.

Let’s circle back to Sarah and Alex. They started a simple ritual of spending 15 minutes each night sharing their highs and lows of the day. This small commitment had a profound effect. It became a sacred time for them to reconnect, understand each other’s daily experiences, and offer support. It was a game-changer in reviving the emotional intimacy they thought they had lost.

Remember, the key to these rituals is consistency. It’s not about grand gestures; it’s about the regular, small acts of connection. These moments build a strong foundation of intimacy, trust, and mutual support.
So, take the time to establish your own ‘re-connection’ rituals. Keep them simple, make them enjoyable, and most importantly, be consistent with them. Over time, these rituals will become a cherished part of your relationship, a daily reminder of your commitment and love for each other.

Incorporating regular ‘re-connection’ rituals into your life can transform your relationship in ways you never thought possible. It’s about making your relationship a priority every day, in small but meaningful ways.

Your relationship is a beautiful, ever-evolving journey

Embracing active listening, fostering curiosity about our partners, and committing to regular ‘re-connection’ rituals are more than just tips; they’re pathways to deeper understanding and stronger bonds. They represent a choice to turn towards each other, even when it feels challenging, and to keep the flame of your relationship alive and vibrant.

Remember, it’s normal for marriage to feel hard at times. But it’s during these times that the opportunity for growth and deeper connection emerges. By implementing these Imago-inspired practices, you’re not just overcoming challenges; you’re building a foundation for a more fulfilling, loving, and resilient partnership.

Sarah and Alex’s story is a testament to the transformative power of these simple yet profound steps. Their journey from drifting apart to rediscovering their bond shows us that with intention, effort, and a little guidance, it’s possible to reignite the spark and enjoy the rich, connected relationship we all seek.

So take these ideas, apply them in your own marriage, and see how even the smallest changes can make a significant difference. Your relationship is a beautiful, ever-evolving journey. Embrace it, nurture it, and watch it flourish.


Talk with us about how you can achieve this in your relationship.

We can help you get back on track. Talk with us about how you can experience the power of active listening, reconnection rituals, and Imago relationship therapy all at the same time and get your relationship back to what it once was, and even deeper than before! Start by reading the 60 second plan to a happy & healthy marriage. 

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact info@themarriagerestorationproject.com or