Relationships change over time – that’s just a cold, hard fact. Sometimes they grow stronger, sometimes they drift apart, and sometimes they’re just… Different. There’s nothing wrong with an evolving marriage. It’s only natural. If you find that you’re drifting apart over the years, however, it’s time to take some action! There are steps you can take to make sure your ever-changing relationship is growing in the right direction.
For many couples, it’s easy to lose sight of the effort it takes to stay in love. As the years go by, both people start to take things for granted, and simply stop putting energy into connecting as a couple. This eventually leads to feelings of “falling out of love” – or gradually discovering that they just aren’t feeling connected anymore.
Here’s how to get it back:
1. Touch Each Other
To start simply, understand that physical contact draws people together – even if they aren’t aware of it. Touching one another, embracing, sleeping close together, etc. all helps your brain produce oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of trust and connectedness.
The time you spend holding hands, sitting close together, and on and on, is time your brains and bodies are building trust and desire. You might not even be conscious of it, but touch of all kinds strengthens your marriage on a biological level.
2. Be Grateful
Part of maintaining a strong relationship is expressing thanks and appreciation for one another. This can be as simple as thanking each other for making dinner, for picking up the kids, or any other “to do” around the house – or as romantic and heartfelt as expressing gratitude for having your spouse in your life, thanking them for helping you grow as a person, and so on.
When we express gratitude for each other, we’re reminding our spouses that they are important parts of our lives. It also helps you stay engaged with one another, helps prevent feelings of resentment from “unfair division of labor,” and is a way to practice ongoing kindness and respect.
3. Step Away From Distraction
One of the biggest relationship killers is our propensity for complacent distraction. Nowadays, the main culprits are TV and smartphones. We unwittingly get sucked into something entertaining on the screen, and all but ignore our spouses – even if they’re sitting in the same room.
The solution is simple: ditch the distractions! We’re not telling you to throw your phone in trash or never watch TV again, but be mindful of what you’re doing – and when. If you spend dinner looking at Facebook instead of talking to your spouse, this is a major problem. If you both zone out and watch TV all evening, this is critical time you could be spending strengthening your marriage.
Use this time to talk to each other, to share ideas and experiences. Even if you’re winding down with a little TV at the end of the day, pay attention to each other – not just the screen.
4. Chase Goals
Another part of building a strong relationship has everything to do with each of you as individuals. You can’t rely on each other for feelings of “completeness” – rather, the strongest relationships are built of two “complete” people who come together to make something even greater than the sum of its parts.
This means taking time and energy to pursue your own goals and hobbies, and encouraging your spouse to do the same. Taking time to grow as an individual will only make you a more satisfied, happier, confident person – and thereby a better spouse.
Additionally, when you encourage each other to pursue goals, passions, hobbies, etc., it’s a show of support that strengthens the bond you share.
5. Get Away!
Life gets hectic, and sometimes day-to-day duties take up so much of our attention, we all but forget to invest time and energy into the marriage. A great way to refocus on each other is to take a vacation!
Of course, plenty of factors will play into the plans you make (like time off work and the kind of trip you can afford), but even a weekend getaway at a local hotel can be a huge recharge for the passion you feel toward one another. Get away from the kids, chores, and the daily routines you’ve gotten used to, and spend some time with just each other!
Hopefully these can get you started on your path to reconnecting as a couple. It takes some effort, but you can fall back in love with the person you’re already married to – it’s often a matter of spending quality time together (like you did at the beginning of the relationship), and being self-aware enough to know how your own actions might be affecting your spouse. Together, you can build the strong marriage you’ve always wanted.
Join us next time for Part 2 of this series!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, <a href=”https://www.strongmarriagenow.com”>StrongMarriageNow.com </a>