Marriage can be one of the most rewarding relationships in an individual’s life. However, it can also be one of their biggest struggles. From the debate surrounding having children to managing finances to coping with each other’s illnesses, marriage requires much more work today than possibly ever before. In fact, many are calling marriages today an all-or-nothing commitment, which only adds pressure to couples trying to make it work. Although some marriages will inevitably end in divorce, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some proven ways to improve your marriage and your happiness.

It's the little things

Saying “I love you” can be a band-aid on a gunshot wound in struggling marriages — sometimes it just isn’t enough. A big way that spouses can help one another get through tough times is by showing their love differently — in ways that maybe speak more to their loved one’s personal love language. We’re not saying you should spend money on large, extravagant gifts. We mean the little day-to-day things. Sophie Keller, life coach and author of the How Happy Is… book series, says small gestures go a long way in helping you become more thoughtful. It’ll also encourage them to give back.

Be supportive

Being supportive brings marriage to a new level. Whether it’s supporting them as they strive to achieve their goals or helping them cope with a personal problem, like the death of a loved one or drug addiction, it will mean something to them to have you there. By not abandoning them in times when they’re in need, you show that you really care and that you’re in it for the long haul. What’s more, you show how important they are to you.

Rekindle the spark

If you feel like the flame of your love is slowly burning out, it doesn’t mean your love is gone. Many people cop out of marriage by saying they fell out of love with their spouse, but this can be avoided in so many ways. Begin dating your spouse again; find ways to take them out on weekly dates. More importantly, make your spouse the top priority in your life. Rekindling the flame doesn’t have to be focused on sex. Though it certainly helps, it can also be about positive communication and focusing on one another.

Be More Apologetic/Forgiving

Being apologetic and forgiving can save a marriage, as holding on to past grievances or failing to acknowledge them can slowly chip away at the foundation of the relationship. But you can’t just apologize for doing something wrong. According to Psychology Today, a successful apology requires having a specific understanding of what you did wrong. You must acknowledge not only what you did wrong, but also how it made your partner feel. In addition, you should also offer an honest explanation for why you committed the offense. On the other hand, holding a grudge causes more stress as thoughts about the incident continue to arise. In turn, this causes high blood pressure, anxiety, and even reduce life expectancy.

Practice Rituals

In his book The Intentional Marriage , Dr. William J. Doherty, a therapist and educator, says one great way to strengthen bonds within a marriage it to create daily or weekly rituals. Make them something you both enjoying doing together, and practice this for a few hours each week. Doing so can improve communication and subsequently rekindle your interest in the relationship.

Think Before You Speak

The decisions we make in marriage have a huge impact, which is why thinking about how to respond when a problem arises can be the difference between a huge argument and a calm discussion. In his book Communication: Key To Your Marriage: The Secret to True Happiness, H. Norman Wright, a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist, writes, “When you take the time to think before you speak, you can evaluate, edit, and consider the impact on your words on the other person.” Practicing control over your anger and stress can help facilitate this process.

Elliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery, health, and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes.