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2018 has been a mixed bag in my marriage. We had some pretty cool things happen. Like our trip to Switzerland with my youngest son Jordan. But then we also experienced some pain. Two weeks before the trip my mom died.
Additionally, my wife Marian was dealing with chronic stress at work. Meanwhile I have been busy working on another business set to launch in January 2019.
We didn’t realize until recently how much of a toll these things were taking on our marriage. We weren’t in crisis by any stretch but a gradual distance was creeping in. I’d say there was less connection, and a little more conflict.
Eventually we talked about it. We opened up about how we were feeling and what was contributing to the disconnect. The consensus was, “we are better than this”
. So, we decided to get back to the things we find works well for us.
A common question in the minds of many couples fraught by frenetic activity that keeps them locked into the busyness of family life and often at odds with each other. They keep giving to everyone else and have little left for themselves or each other for that matter.
Bad habits can form quickly in marriage. Couples interact in passing. Short quick “hello” “goodbye”. Hardly time for a kiss or an embrace. Text has replaced talk. “I’m busy. You need something, text me.”
Aren’t we better than this?
Marriage Malnutrition Epidemic
Couples on the go suffer from malnutrition. The marriage is not being fed. Not surprising why so many couples are “fed up” with each other. Needs are not being met.
I see this pattern a lot. It concerns me.
Couples lose interest in each other. Some prefer to go out with friends over each other.
Couples who do not connect regularly retreat to private places in the house where they can be alone, watch tv, engage in social media, or catch up on work.
Alone they may wonder, “What happened to us? Aren’t we better than this?”
You are better than this! Your marriage may not need a heart transplant. It probably needs some nutrition. Marian and I got better by feeding our relationship. All it took was a few simple gestures every day.
Here are 7 ways you can make your relationship better.
#1: Start by being nice to each other.
Malnourished couples lack basic kindness. It’s apparent in their interactions. The tone of voice is often negative or flat. Lacks positive sentiment.
They wait behind their well-constructed walls. Neither wants to make the first move.
If this describes your relationship, consider “waving a white flag” with each other. Remember you are allies, not adversaries.
Being nice begins with your disposition. Try being more positive and less negative. Be thoughtful.
Start by doing little nice things for each other. Small acts of kindness over the course of a week can ease tension and show good faith effort that you care about your spouse.
When you do, don’t draw attention to it. If your spouse doesn’t notice it or comment, don’t take it negatively. Do it out of the kindness of your heart, not to score points, or prove yourself.
#2: Try changing your tone when you talk.
Tone can make or break your message. Slow down. Don’t speak so fast. Think before you speak. Rehearse your words. Find your respectful voice.
#3: Tune in when your mate is speaking to you.
Stop and focus on your spouse when spoken to. Mute the TV. Put your device down. Turn away from the computer screen. Take a deep breath, focus.
#4: Take an interest in what is going on in each other’s day.
It only takes a few minutes to check in with each other about what is going on in the day. An important client meeting? Pitching a proposal? Having lunch with a friend?
I talked with a client today whose husband was going for a fourth level interview with a company. She asked him how he felt about it and expressed confidence in his ability to do well. This couple has been struggling in their marriage. He thanked her for the boost in confidence.
#5: Increase the amount of affection you express to each other.
Affection on the run doesn’t cut it. How about taking a few more seconds and be intentional. An extended hug followed by, “You look great in that outfit” is a great send off.
Be intentional at the end of a workday to greet each other some affection.
Back or foot rubs on the couch watching Netflix is a good idea too!
#6: Own your mistakes, repair them, and move forward.
Stop being defensive. If you’re wrong, own it. Don’t make excuses. Simply apologize and fix the problem.
Partners who don’t admit mistakes do serious damage to the relationship. It is disrespectful to your mate.
Moving forward includes forgiveness. Sincere apologies should be matched by genuine forgiveness.
Spouses who hold on to offenses and harbor anger also hurt a marriage. Forgiveness should not be pressured, nor should it be delayed beyond a reasonable time.
#7: Invest time in your marriage outside of the home
Your marriage needs enrichment to avoid malnutrition. Get out of the house and away from the work staring you in the face. Enjoy a cappuccino together in a local coffee shop. Go for a jog or walk.
Schedule a weekend or overnight getaway together w/o kids.
It doesn’t take much effort to feed your marriage. A little attention with some consistency can make a noticeable difference.