Happy National Marriage Week! I recently had someone ask me why we don’t share more marriage based posts, and I kept thinking that’s everything we do! But looking through content recently let me know we share a lot about dates but not as much about marriage. I was so flattered this person told me we’re the type of couple they’d actually want to hear from, specifically regarding things we do to keep love alive and our relationships strong in addition to dates. It’s weighed on me for a few weeks and with National Marriage Week and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I figured this was a great way to talk about a few easy ways to strengthen your marriage.
1. Set Time for Quality Communication
Life is busy, responsibilities are great, and often that quality time gets pushed to date night only- particularly if you have children! Someone gave me the advice to have a few minutes each day to look into each other’s eyes and talk. It sounds simple, but it’s so effective! Each partner needs to feel heard and validated, and even if you only have 10-20 minutes to do this, it makes all the difference! Find a set time like when you get home from work, before you go to bed, after the kids go to bed, etc. to just talk about your day, what’s on your mind, anything you’re concerned about, or just to joke around together. Make eye contact, be present, and have a little intentional connection every day.
2. Put Your Phones Down
I didn’t have a functional smartphone until we’d been married for two years, and the day iPhones were available with our network and our contracts were up for renewal, we went and got the coveted electronic. We noticed something instantly- we both felt jealous of each other’s phones! We had less conversation time and more social media time, we didn’t pay as much attention, often car/train rides were spent on phones instead of chatting, and I confess there was way too much bathroom time. It was amazing about a month in to realize we both felt a lot less connected to each other because of our phones (eyes covered emoji)! We started to set some rules about when we can use them when we’re around each other. Having them out on date night for anything but a picture/an address/ticket scan is a no-no. When we get home from work phones are put away for at least an hour. Whenever one of us wants to talk or we’re doing our set quality communication time phones are off. And both of us have a favorite rule- if we tell the other one we’re feeling jealous of the phone the phone has to be put away immediately. Setting boundaries and cutting the phone time has made a huge difference for us, and I think it’s a boundary all couples should discuss!
3. Have a Regular Date Night
I was once given the advice from a church leader “Date regularly. If you can’t afford to, date anyway.” I thought that was so strange, but I’ve found it to be 100% true! We’re six years into this project to date every week and it’s made all the difference for us! One week a month we do a family date and don’t get a sitter and I can feel the difference that week longing for the next. That quality time, that spark ignitor, that reminder that there’s fun in your lives and relationship are what get you through hard times and make marriage feel exciting and fun again. We believe so strongly in this that we started this blog hoping others would find inspiration too- even if they don’t have the money and the free section is their best friend!
4. Assess Your Marriage Regularly
I’ve heard all couples need counseling, and it’s something I believe! That doesn’t necessarily mean a formal session with a therapist, although I applaud that too, but it does mean time to objectively look at issues or concerns and to talk about ways to help one another and improve. If you don’t know problems you can’t fix them, and sometimes just having talking points around improvement even if you’re doing great make a huge difference!
One really excellent resource for this is The Marriage Checkup, an online assessment powered by PREPARE/ENRICH. Each goes through a series of questions for each partner to take The Marriage Checkup to help couples answer questions and find areas of their relationship to set goals and work towards improving. Each partner takes their own portion of the assessment (it takes about 30 minutes) and after completion, couples can download/print their results and follow a full discussion guide that’s like a workbook for talking points. It’s tailored to each stage of relationships, so it’s great whether you’re dating, engaged, or married. It’s a tool used by clergy and counselors alike, so it’s a great resource and one that’s really excellent to do on your own! It’s also a really enlightening date that you can do at home! I love that we can sit and set some goals together and uncover anything we may want to work on together.
It’s also a lot cheaper than therapy and less than the price of dinner and a movie!
5. Serve Each Other
I laughed when a friend told me her biggest turn-on is when her husband does the dishes. I laughed when another friend mentioned she just can’t get mad at her husband while he’s cleaning. As funny as these sound, there’s a power behind service that bonds marriages together. It looks different for every couple- maybe you have a maid, maybe you have several children to care for, maybe one of you works long hours and doesn’t get to be present as much as you like. But whatever way you find to help your significant other, there’s something that happens, you start to want to one-up each other in kindness and you both start to be more aware of each other’s needs. When my husband picks up the slack on my chores I didn’t finish that day it means the world! When I help make life easier and help him with chores and responsibilities on the days he travels for work, he’s so grateful! I believe the less selfish you are, the stronger you are as a couple, and finding a way to serve your significant other at least once a week is a huge key!
So there are five easy ways we’ve found to strengthen marriage, but we’d love to hear any others you’ve found! Plus as a bonus, every comment counts as a giveaway entry!
Photos by: Photography Hill