As I walk around my house after the kids leave for school, I take notice of our family pets: a lizard, a fish, and two hermit crabs. The pets have ultimately become my responsibility. I can either feed the pets or they will not survive. My husband and I, together for over 25 years, agree that caring for a marriage is somewhat akin to caring for pets. You can choose to feed a marriage or it can wither away. Thankfully, my husband and I made the conscious decision to make each other a priority and nourish our relationship on a daily basis.
In my private practice, the relationships that succeed are those in which both partners commit to working together and acknowledging their partners each day. To have the best relationship possible with your partner, it’s important to continually choose behaviors that move you toward a good place with one other.
Incorporate just a few of the things happy couples do every day to enhance your relationship and make your marriage a success.
1. Connect physically.
Whether it’s a hug in the morning, a hand held while sitting on the couch, a quick peck on the cheek, or a caress while one of you is doing the dishes, make it a point to initiate some form of physical contact each day. This connection is very powerful.
2. Spend time together.
With everyone caught up in day-to-day craziness, it is easy to miss out on couple time. Make it a point to spend even a half-hour each day just talking or doing something together—even if it’s watching television, folding laundry, or running errands together. No matter what you do with this time, the point is to do it together.
3. Laugh together.
An automatic mood-lifter, laughter really is the best medicine for a stuck relationship. Studies show when laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases mutual happiness and intimacy. By allowing yourselves to relax and release your inner silliness, new energy is infused into the relationship.
4. Display thoughtfulness.
Show your partner you’re thinking of them. Small gestures, such as packing a favorite snack in their bag, sending a quick text, or writing a post-it note and slipping it in their jacket pocket shows that they are at the forefront of your mind and important to you.
5. Communicate, uninterrupted.
With cell phones ringing and kids interrupting, this may seem impossible, but there are ways to communicate without allowing interruptions. Be available to listen and truly hear your partner. Turn off the phones, move to a quiet place in your home, and focus only on one another. If outside thoughts try to creep in, move them to the side for the moment—especially negative thoughts. Let little resentments go, and focus on the positive.
6. Pay full attention.
Make a “check-in” time. Talk with your partner about scheduling a specific time each day or night to check in with one another. This can be a brief, 5 to 10-minute period to ask how each other’s day was and allow for a short preview of things you can talk about in your communication time later on.