Here are some practices I have learned to keep my marriage healthy and happy.
Communicate Daily. Make sure to talk and check in with each other at least once every day, if only for ten minutes. This time should be separate from and in addition to conversations about the kids or your weekly schedule. It is important to have the opportunity to share your day and what’s going on in your life with the person closest to you, as well as clear the air about any miscommunications you two may have had during the week. Conversing on a daily basis, about more than soccer practice and homework, keeps you connected, helps prevent issues from building up between you, and is critical to a lasting relationship.
Really Listen. When you have a conversation with your spouse, (or with anyone for that matter), make sure that when the other person is speaking you are truly listening. We don’t always listen. We may hear what another is saying as we think about the laundry piling up or what we need to buy at the grocery store. To be heard and understood is one of the most fundamental human needs. To ensure that your partner feels heard, make eye contact, acknowledge what they are saying by repeating what you heard, and ask them follow up questions. You don’t always have to agree, but you can always acknowledge having heard and understood them, as well as demonstrate your interest in what they are sharing.
Look at Each Other. It may sound obvious, but so many mornings go by and I realize I did not even look at my husband’s face for more than two seconds. Or, after work I’ll come home with the kids and go right to making dinner, barely stopping to greet him. We get so caught up in the daily activities of family life that we often get disconnected from each other. The first step in reconnecting is to take a few minutes each day to be totally present with your spouse and just look into his or her eyes while you talk. You might even want to smile or say “I love you.”
Acknowledge. When you spouse makes breakfast or takes out the garbage, remember to say “thank you,” even if it is his turn. Whether you are 5 or 55, everyone appreciates and feels good about being acknowledged for their efforts. Acknowledgment also reminds us not to take each other for granted.
Show Affection. I am sure we all have read or heard about the importance of regular human touch and its physical and emotional benefits. When relationships are new, we tend to be very affectionate with our partner. Unfortunately, in time, that often wanes. Touch is a vital part of any intimate relationship, whether with our children, close friends or spouse. Regularly show your partner how much you care with a simple touch of the hand, a hug or even a foot massage.
Incorporating one or more of these practices into your daily life will help bring you and your spouse closer together.
Jamie L. Cicerelle is a Certified Life Coach (CPC) with Blank Canvas Coaching (www.blankcanvascoaching.com), and has over 15 years of experience as a practicing divorce attorney. She specializes in coaching women and teens affected by divorce and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-799-3219.