This deceptively simple strategy is from my new book, How to Do Life: What they didn't teach you in school.
Your relationship is doing poorly. Before heading to couples counseling, you might try what I call The Couple's Council.
It has helped a number of my clients, and frankly, my own marriage. One of my clients called it "The Ten-Minute Miracle."
Step 1: Perhaps over dinner, you propose one specific thing you'll do during the next 24 hours to improve the relationship; for example, your partner is tired of your procrastination, nagging, or being a pig. So you propose that you will not nag him about anything for a week. Your partner agrees that would at least modestly improve your relationship, or s/he asks you to propose something else. You keep proposing changes in your behavior until s/he okays one.
Step 2: You reverse roles. In other words, this step is completed when you agree that something your partner proposes to do would at least modestly improve your relationship.
Step 3: During the next 24 hours, when each of you sees your partner doing the desired behavior, for example, getting something done when s/he'd otherwise likely procrastinate, the person gets a thumbs-up. Each screw-up gets a thumbs-down but no lecture, no recriminations.
Step 4: 24 hours later, each of your rates him/herself on how well s/he did in improving on the agreed-on behavior., Then, you decide whether, in the next 24 hours, you want to just work on the same behavior or add another one.
Repeat the process until enough improvements have been made, or you decide you should see that couples counselor after all.