“Marriage is hard work!” say all married couples. While that’s true, sometimes the reality is that not having certain regular practices in place can contribute to a strained marriage. You naturally want to spend time with each other and do nice things for each other in your first few years of marriage (especially when you were dating!). However, over the years its easy to get complacent about these things and we often end up taking each other for-granted because “He / she ain’t going anywhere. We’re already married and isn’t that commitment the highest form of love? What more effort could possibly be needed?” Well, you don’t have to buy a dozen roses or write love letters everyday (no harm doing that once in awhile though), just being more aware of and attentive to a few practical things can make a big difference. We love these suggestions from Redbook Mag that intentionally gives your marriage the time and space to blossom each day.
1.Go to bed together
When you first move in together, it can be the most exciting thing to do everything together under one roof. Years later, you’re both having different bed times – one might stay up later reading to the kids or finishing a work deadline, while the other hits the sack early. Some couples even end up sleeping in separate rooms for the first few years of their children’s lives just to get some sleep! Work schedules that don’t coincide also make it tough to sleep at the same time. But its still important to make time for this, even if its just twice a week. Those intimate moments spent together after the kids are in bed or the day is done, is irreplaceable. It doesn’t have to be about sex – it can just be 10 minutes of catching up to feel aligned and more connected. “You need to go to bed together,” says Grace Stevens, author of One New Habit to Fix Your Marriage. “That’s something sacred you share with your partner—you can’t do it with anyone else in your life.”
2. Clear the air
Don’t wait until you get into a massive fight to air all your grievances, at which point things tend to get blown out of proportion or ignored in the fallout. “Once a week or so, ask your partner, ‘Is there anything I’ve done lately that’s caused distance between us?'” says Susan Campbell, Ph.D., author of Five-Minute Relationship Repair. We want to know that our partner is interested in our feelings—even hurt or upset ones. But your husband may not be used to airing his emotions in calm conversation, so allow him time to think before you walk away and move on with your day. “You’re giving your husband permission to unload his withheld feelings in a nice, safe, gentle way, which he might not ordinarily have the opportunity to do,” adds Campbell.
“Once a week or so, ask your partner, ‘Is there anything I’ve done lately that’s caused distance between us?'”
– Susan Campbell, Ph.D., author of Five-Minute Relationship Repair.
3. Ask questions at the right time
We love this one. You know when you ask your husband to do something, he doesn’t, then months go by and the resentment just builds and builds? That’s no fun for either of you. “Ask for what you want at a time when your partner could actually do it for you,” says Campbell. When you bring something up at a moment when it couldn’t possibly get accomplished—no, he can’t call to have the garbage pickup schedule changed while in the shower—it just sort of hangs there. Then you stop asking, start shoving your want under the rug, and it becomes a thing. “Asking at the opportune time makes you a more successful couple by showing your husband that you respect his time and are paying attention to his wants and needs, too,” adds Campbell.
4. Compare your calendars
Yes, this sounds a little business-y, but bear with us. “Checking in with your husband each morning to see what’s on his agenda may not seem romantic, but it will help keep you on the same page and in touch even when you’re apart,” says Campbell. Whether he says that he has hundreds of emails to reply to that day or an important presentation at the office, it gives you an in to follow up later on and offer support, encouragement, or a little break. “Everyone appreciates knowing that someone loves and is thinking about them, no matter what they’re doing,” says Campbell. Otherwise, you’re living together, but aren’t really having a life together.
5. Rip up the score sheet
Whether you’re aware of it or not, years of struggling to maintain a balanced marriage can lead to a kind of competition between partners. “That silent score-keeping of who works more, who’s more tired, who does more chores, who gets to hang out with friends more, who spends more money, who has more free time, etc.—it’s an ongoing tally,” says Stevens. Even if you’re not complaining out loud, built-up resentment will affect every aspect of your life together. “Marriage is a team sport,” she adds. “If someone’s winning, you’re both losing.” Make a daily decision to tear up that score sheet—and keep mentally shredding it every day until it becomes habit.
What other small habits have you found most helpful for your marriage? We love hearing from our readers! Let us know in the comments below?
This article was inspired by redbookmag.com and a number of excerpts were taken from the original article here.