There are certain periods in a marriage where a couple may become more distant than normal. Some of those times might include the birth of a child, issues at work, or even a rough patch in the marriage. It can make you feel pretty lonely to be disconnected from the person you love. However, all is definitely not lost! According to marriage expert Sandra Kirk, the key to reconnecting is to find that spark again, and maintain it. If you’re wondering how in the world you do that on top of work, the kids, and every other stress you have on a daily basis, keep reading!

Just like a car, your marriage needs maintenance. A car will occasionally need an oil change, new tires, and a tune-up. Your marriage is the same. Without routine maintenance, your car may end up in the shop! The same goes for a marriage. At risk of taking this analogy a little too far, your marriage needs fuel to burn in the same way your car needs gasoline.

Laugh It Up!

There are many things you can do to maintain your marriage, and one of the most important things you can do is retain your sense of humor! In fact, in one survey, older married couples were asked what kept their marriage happy and alive for so long, and nearly every one of them said a great sense of humor was the key! Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself with the person who knows you better than anyone, who can you laugh at yourself with? Of course, this is not sarcastic laughter, but true laughter as if the two of you are the only ones in the world who are in on a clever joke. Try keeping your sense of humor in any situation. It really does lighten the mood and inspire happy feelings.

Just the Two of You!

Even if you have very busy schedules, with children and demanding careers, you need to find time for just you and your spouse. This is one of the most important things you can do to rediscover that spark and maintain a happy marriage. If need be, hire a reliable babysitter just a few hours a week and spend time with your spouse having dinner, seeing a great movie, walking on the beach, or whatever it is you enjoy. Ensuring that you have this kind of time together will help keep your marriage strong and make it stronger.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

You have probably heard this a million times, and there’s a reason. During a typical marriage, it can be very easy to get frustrated because your spouse forgot to pick his or her clothes up from the floor, or missed an important meeting. However, keeping things in perspective can really help. These sorts of things are not tragedies. Someone losing their life is a tragedy; finding out that you have a chronic disease is a tragedy; your spouse not closing the shower curtain for the third time is not a tragedy. When you look at things this way, it can help keep you from getting frustrated over the small stuff. Be glad that you still have a healthy spouse that’s able to forget the shower curtain!

Just Talk!

Experts say that one of the most important components to a great marriage is communication. While you simply can’t sit down every day and have a lengthy, emotional conversation with your spouse, you can talk. Even if you only talk while you’re cooking together, or doing dishes, or even before bed – it’s important to do it. Let your spouse know what you love about them. An example would be, “Honey, you were so great at dinner with the neighbors. You’re so funny!” It’s short, sweet, and hopefully true! It simply lets your spouse know you love and appreciate them. These few words can go a really long way toward making your marriage healthy and happy.

While these things may seem very small, they are individual gallons of gas that are going toward a full tank. Taking a few minutes out of your day is all you really need to do in order to maintain your marriage and reconnect.

Of course, if your problems are more complicated, you may want to consider marriage counseling. The most important thing you can do as an individual is to never stop trying. This is where many couples fall off the path that leads to a healthy marriage. Utilizing the tips above will keep you on that coveted path and heading toward happily ever after.