BY AGENCY REPORTER
When you and your spouse first met, talking, doing things for each other or just being together was probably very romantic. During that exciting and memorable time of courtship, having someone you admired notice and care about you was a real thrill. How can you keep that glow going in your marriage? Many other responsibilities compete for your attention. Stresses and worries can crowd out time for your spouse and your marriage. It is possible to keep love and romance alive in your marriage with some planning and effort.
Friendship is the Key
Keeping love and romance alive in your marriage doesn’t have to depend on going on cruises or weekend getaways. Couples who still “feel the glow” in their marriage are those, who on a daily basis, have nurtured the friendship that is the basis of all happy marriages.
“The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.”
John Gottman, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 1999
Strengthening the Marital Friendship
1. Stay in touch with each other – be aware of each other’s daily lives to keep up on how your spouse thinks and feels. Have a regular time to talk each day about the simple things of the day whether its talking on the phone or spending 15 minutes each evening holding hands and talking.
2. Show appreciation. One of the greatest needs we have is the need to feel appreciated. Most of us do pretty well at saying thanks or giving compliments for the obvious things. To get really good, we need to improve at noticing the not so obvious things. Learn to say thanks for the invisible work (things that only get noticed when they don’t get done) such as, “Thanks for a drawer full of clean clothes” or “Thanks for putting that back where I keep it.” Also say thanks for the daily efforts of others such as “Thanks for bringing in the paper” or “Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen.” Tell your spouse you’re grateful for her or him. After a while you will develop the appreciation habit. [eap_ad_1] 3. Show kindness. Doing little things for each other is so simple, yet it is often overlooked. It is especially hard to be kind when our spouse has been critical or unkind towards us. It’s just human nature to be less kind in return. But kindness is catching. Your kind words and actions will bring out kindness in your spouse. Try doing simple, unselfish things for your spouse such as listening with patience, helping with a task when they are busy, avoiding an angry reply, or apologizing for something you said. Leave a short “love note” on your spouse’s pillow or lunch sack, send your spouse a card in the mail or give some a small gift for no special occasion.
4. Give the gift of understanding. It’s true that none of us ever fully understand what our spouse is feeling, but when our spouse is feeling down or upset we can listen and offer support rather than minimizing their feeling or offering advice about what they should do. As Stephen Covey puts it, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Try these steps: 1- Listen with full attention; 2- Give a simple acknowledgement of your spouse’s feelings with an “oh” or “I see” or “Mmmm…”; 3- Check out your understanding, “You’re feeling upset because …? Is that right?” 4- Say something to show understanding. “I didn’t know that’s how you felt…” or “That must have been awful.”
5. Learn your spouse’s “love language.” One language is telling our spouse we love them. Another is showing them we love them by doing some special thing for them. Or we may to want to hug and hold hands and be close. We all probably like to be told and shown in different ways at different times. Which means the most to your spouse? You may want to ask.