Sometimes you know your marriage needs some changes. You and your spouse both have a general feeling that things could be better, but the way to improve things isn’t clear to either or you.

Often, your marriage doesn’t need a gigantic change, it would benefit by a few simple tweaks. Here are some ideas of a few things that you and your spouse could stand to do a little more of and a little less of.

A little more
Eye contact
Life can get so busy that we speak to each other in passing and hardly spend a meaningful moment together. But taking a few moments each day to make eye contact is a connecting and intimate action. When you were dating, you spent all kinds of time looking into each other’s eyes, studying each other, and trying to understand the other one. Try picking that habit up again.

Touch throughout the day
Making a physical connection is meaningful, even if it’s just a fist bump or high five. Physical connection communicates being accepted–a very powerful and important message to convey to the one you love.

Sustained touch
When two people are dating, they naturally want to hold hands and spend as much time touching as possible. It feels good and it promotes the health of the relationship. Sadly, sustained touch can get overlooked during busy married life. Couples need to spend time giving hugs, back rubs, and kisses that are longer than a “hello/goodbye peck.”

Sex
The natural progression from eye contact, touches, and sustained touches is sexual intimacy. I often hear couples complain about not having much sex in their marriage. I agree that it’s a problem. Have a little more sex and all kinds of things in your marriage will improve. Plan it, if necessary. Cut other things out of your life. Add date nights and sitters to your life if you need to. But increase the frequency of sex and, barring any type of other relationship dysfunction, your marriage will greatly improve.

Appreciation
Couples tend to take each other for granted over time. Show more appreciation for all of the things your spouse does for you and the family.

Kind words
In the busyness of life it is easy, to neglect saying much of anything to your partner at all, let alone kind words. But everyone needs to hear that you find them attractive, think they’re funny, etc.

Fun
Do you ever feel like your life takes you from one responsibility to the next? Can you even remember the last time you purposely did something fun with your spouse? If you feel like life has become one obligatory task after another, your spouse probably does too. Plan in some purposeful fun and watch how your satisfaction with marriage improves.

Effort
None of the things I’ve suggested adding to your marriage is difficult, but they will take a little bit more effort than what you’re currently giving to the marriage. But considering how happily married people live longer, make more money and have better overall health and happiness, it’s completely worth it to give it your best shot.

I guarantee marital improvement if you will add in a little more of the previous list, but you will also benefit from a little less of the following things.

A little less
Distractedness
It’s possible to be in the same room with someone and hardly pay them any attention at all. But your spouse needs to connect with you on a daily basis. If you want to have a good marriage, work on being fully present when you’re with your partner.

Criticism
How can you have good relational intimacy with someone who seems to criticize you at every turn? If you feel like your spouse has pulled away from you, perhaps it’s because he or she is protecting him or her self from your fault-finding words.

Comparing
Yes, there will always be another woman who cooks better, keeps her house better, entertains better, etc. than your wife. Yes, there will always be another man who makes more money, tells funnier jokes, keeps his body fitter, etc. than your husband. Who cares? It doesn’t do your relationship any good to point that out to your spouse. Accept each other and both of you work on your own “stuff.” Gratitude will take you further in your marriage than nit-picking comparisons.

Blame
Marriage is a place where each partner must own up to their own mistakes. The mistakes of each person can be discussed in a constructive way, but blaming someone for all of the problems in the marriage will do more harm than good.

Thin skin
Did it ever occur to you that your spouse is like a mirror? They often reflect back to you how you truly are. They call it out by the interactions you have with each other. It can be annoying, sobering, and just plain uncomfortable to observe a reflection of yourself. So if you are going to be happily married, you are going to have to be able to handle having your spouse reflect back some of your less than favorite attributes.

Laziness
Marriage is a relationship that must be cultivated and tended to. If you stop working on it, it will begin to wither. We always reap what we sow, including in marriage. Don’t expect marriage to meet your needs and be an enjoyable union if you haven’t sown any good seeds for a while.

A relationship neither blossoms nor implodes overnight. But you can begin to make small changes, a little more of this and a little less of that, right away. Show this article to your partner and pick a few things to do a little more and a little less. Then watch your relationship improve as both of you make little changes in your marriage.