12 Ways to Make Your Marriage Great
A couple of years ago, my marriage was in trouble. Despite its grim state, my husband and I were committed to making it work, so we poured our energy into our relationship. Now that the rocky road is behind us, we have fallen more complacent again. Recently, upon feeling disconnected from my man, I thought about how our relationship was actually at its best when it was at its worst. Confusing, I know, but the work we put in during our time of crisis made us feel more connected and loved than ever. Here are some of the things we did (and should revisit):
1.) We hung out. Before a couple lives together, they purposely spend time together by visiting each other and going on dates. Once sharing living space, couples are more likely to take their togetherness for granted and run through the motions of the day without planning time to connect. When our relationship was at its best, we consciously spent time together like we did when we dated. We sometimes ignored dirty dishes and taught our son to sleep more independently because time together was a priority.
2.) We gave each other quality attention, meaning when we were together, we shut our computers and didn’t pay attention to our phones. We looked at each other when we spoke, and talked for the sake of sharing and connecting rather than making plans and discussing responsibilities.
3.) We shared in each other’s worlds. We didn’t always shut our computers. Sometimes we surfed the net together, discovering more about each other’s interests. Josh and I would cuddle, share a laptop, and look at houses or laugh together while browsing the humorous images on Imgur.
4.) We just looked at each other, like right through each other’s eyes and into each other’s souls. It sounds weird, I know, but very connecting.
5.) We gave lots of affection. We constantly held hands. My lips were glued to his cheeks. Oh, and we had lots of sex. Not only the quick parent-of-young-children kind, but the slow I-love-you kind, too.
6.) We knew life was better with each other. It’s normal to kind of take your partner for granted after a while, but when we were faced with the reality of losing each other, we appreciated each other more.
7.) I knew my man was a catch. Imagining myself single made me sick with thoughts of the (horrifying) dating world. Not only did I know quality men are hard to come by, I realized that my man was an amazing guy who other women would pounce on. That thought made me a hot mixture of jealous, turned-on, and grateful.
8.) We were a team. We tend to divide and conquer, and although that’s efficient, it doesn’t help us understand each other’s experiences. I am a stay-at-home mom, and my husband goes to work. Our traditional roles make it so that the grocery shopping, errand running, and household duties are solely mine. Except — when we were struggling — we stayed in each other’s company more, and it really helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone in my responsibilities. We played rock-paper-scissor for who did next diaper change, and I convinced him to accompany me on errands. Maybe I created more work for him, but the happiness his efforts gave me made it worth it for him.
9.) We considered each other. Rather than get mad when my husband wanted some alone time after work, I thought about the pressures he felt during the day and understood his need for it. He also considered my feminine need for little tokens of love, and he often left me notes to find. By constantly trying to understand each other’s feelings and experiences, we didn’t get offended by each other.
10.) We believed in each other’s love. As a woman, I find that I go through sensitive periods of feeling under-appreciated and over-worked. I have a need to be held and nurtured, and if my husband’s not doing this for me, I assume he doesn’t love me enough. When we were going through our tough time, I really believed in his love. While he wasn’t able to give me exactly what I needed all the time, I knew his imperfections had nothing to do with his love for me.
11.) I showed my husband how to make me happy. Before, I would have grumbled to myself about him not taking the trash out or helping me put the kids to bed. But with assurance of his love and good intentions, I learned how to ask for what I wanted without nagging. Rather than saying, “You never help me!” I started saying, “Babe, would you please help me by taking the trash out.” Then when he returned I’d be sure to wear a huge smile and squeeze his strong, manly bicep. This is a double win because I got what I wanted while making him feel needed and useful in the process. Men want this feeling.
12.) We honored ourselves and each other. We did this by sharing our moment-to-moment truth. Josh might say, “I want to sleep in tomorrow.” Rather than being passive and appeasing or confrontational, I practiced honesty (to myself and him). I’d say something like, “I want you to get the sleep you need, but I hate feeling alone with the baby all morning.” Then we made agreements that worked for both of us.
It’s true that relationships take work, not only in times of trouble, but everyday. Now I’m back to grumbling, pushing my husband away with my nagging, and choosing to go to bed rather than watch my husband sit with his laptop. Truly, the grass is not greener on the other side, but where you water it. Let us start watering again, today!
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This post was written by Amanda Elder exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.