For all the complicated things that can happen in marriages, for all of the complex problems we may face, the ins and outs of everyone’s unique personality, the different facets of every single relationship…
Part of maintaining a healthy marriage is actually quite simple.
Over the course of the next two posts, we’re going to cover seven straightforward, easy ways to stay connected to your spouse and keep the relationship happy. These are all so basic, they actually get overlooked way too often!
These things don’t cost money, and they barely even take up your time! They might seem tiny, but these small actions can have a huge effect on the quality of your marriage, and how you feel about in an ongoing way.
Make a point to take these tips to heart, and you’ll be amazed at how much they can help!
So many people have bad habits when it comes to truly listening to others. Instead of actually absorbing what another person has to say, it’s all too common to start thinking about your response, essentially just waiting for your turn to speak – and not giving someone your full attention.
In marriages, this can get worse over time simply because you spend so much of your life together. You may become more impatient, think you can predict what the other person is going to say, or simply get so used to their company that your mind starts to wander.
Real listening, however, takes effort and intent. It means focusing on the other person, not your response. When you actively listen, you’ll be able to provide feedback and thoughtful commentary, but even more importantly, it shows your spouse that you are willing to give them your time and energy, and that their thoughts are important to you.
When people feel like they’re truly being listened to, they tend to open up, place more trust in those good listeners, and develop deeper bonds. This is no different in a marriage! Just making the effort to really pay attention shows that you care, and strengthens the emotional bond you share.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
You can’t be connected as a couple if you aren’t spending quality time together – away from distractions. This isn’t just sitting in the same room while you both do other things. It’s actually participating in activities together, talking to each other, and creating the joint experiences that are at the core of your relationship.
It could be nearly anything, as long as it’s together and distraction free. You could play games, take a bath, go for a walk, talk about your goals, discuss your day at work, cook a meal… Anything! This is a time to put the phone away and turn off the TV, even if it’s only for 30 minutes or an hour at a time.
The time you spend focused on each other, even if it seems fairly mundane, is the time when you’re truly connecting. Make a point to spend at least four hours together every week, even it means scheduling times, and watch the connection you feel grow!
3. Compliment Your Spouse
This is about as simple as it gets: compliment each other!
Healthy relationships involve building each other up and making each other feel good, and this is the most direct way to achieve that. If you think your spouse looks nice, tell them! If they did a great job on a project or dealt with a sticky situation, compliment their skill or patience.
If they cook a delicious meal, are putting in extra effort, even if they remember some little detail about you or make your day a little bit easier, offer up your admiration!
Receiving compliments, especially from the people who know you well, is a big boost to self-esteem and confidence, and helps make you feel loved and appreciated.
4. Say “I Love You”
This can be an easy one to forget or gloss over, especially if you aren’t feeling very connected in the marriage, but saying “I love you” is an important reminder that you are connected, that you’ve committed to sharing your lives with each other.
In person, on the phone, in a text message or a little note left on the table… It all adds up. Being reminded that you are loved makes you feel good, and makes you want to reciprocate – to love in return.
Say it every day. Say it often. Say it with conviction.
Make sure your spouse knows how you feel about them!
Next time, we’ll look at three more easy ways to improve the quality of your marriage that you might be overlooking. Take each of these tips to heart, and incorporate them into each and every day.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com