Marriage isn’t easy even under the best of circumstances. And the everyday stresses of teaching can begin to take a toll on your life both inside and outside of the classroom. Whether you encounter challenging students, feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to get things done, have a difficult parent meeting, or experience your own personal life problems, you might feel as if the walls are closing in on you. Unfortunately for some teachers and their spouses, this means marriage can get lost in the shuffle, and the relationship weakens — or worse, falls apart.

It is important that your relationship with your spouse gets the attention it needs in order to thrive. Dr. Laura Marshak, as quoted in a Child Mind Institute article, suggests that first and foremost, you create space for your marriage by setting aside time every day during which you focus only on each other. As little as a half-hour can keep your connection to one another intact.

Smart Strategies for Strengthening Relationships

Angela Watson, a National Board Certified teacher turned instructional coach and host of the Truth for Teachers podcast, recently offered advice on how to keep teaching from ruining your marriage. “I can’t tell you how many emails and private messages I have gotten over the years from teachers telling me that teaching is ruining their marriage. I’ve heard of husbands giving their wives ultimatums: It’s either teaching or me.”

Watson suggests that teachers implement these straightforward strategies to strengthen their relationships with their significant others:

  • Recognize that family is the top priority in your life.
  • Set boundaries for “work time” and “spouse time.”
  • Set some time aside after school to “decompress.”
  • Try to minimize bringing home work-related tasks.

Here are even more “smart strategies” for strengthening relationships, according to the Huffington Post:

  • Apologize when you are wrong: If you realize you are wrong in a fight, admit it and say you are sorry. It will make a world of difference in terms of staying close. And forgive the other even if he/she doesn’t apologize.
  • Laugh more: Go ahead and tell those inside jokes. Laughing together can make you closer.
  • Play to your strengths: Face it, each of you has strengths that the other one does not. You may be more logical than your husband, but perhaps he is better at understanding nonverbal communication. This of these differences as complementary skills and talents you can use to your advantage.
  • Arrange weekly meetings: If you have kids and careers, there is nothing more important than having weekly “meetings.” It may not be romantic, but neither is nagging, and this curbs that a lot.
  • Talk about the little things: Talk about the big things, but also discuss the little things. Talk and then talk some more. The more you talk, the more you learn.
  • Remember to thank the other person: It’s true. However small it seems, remember to say thanks for small things, even if they are expected. It helps each person feel appreciated.
  • Stop yelling: No one is suggesting you stop fighting. Some fights are needed. But stop yelling. And name calling. And fighting dirty.
  • Hold hands: Even when you are mad at each other, just touch. Whether it’s in bed or out of bed. Sometimes the simple act of touching one another can help curb angry feelings.

Perhaps the most important thing couples can do to strengthen their relationships during times of stress or happiness is to communicate. Talk often, day dream out loud, ask questions, write notes to one another … whatever means of communication works for you, do it. Just adhere to the cardinal rule of communication: Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

For hope and healing.

Mike Hannan

As the director of communications for Clarity Child Guidance Center, Mike shares the insights of children’s mental health experts, both inside and outside of Clarity CGC, who work with families looking for answers about their children’s mental health.