Marriage does not come with a manual and neither is there a foolproof way to prepare for it. With that being said, there really is no guarantee that the marriage is a success and will remain as one. In such a union, love is not love lone like roses and candies and sweet nothings. Love consists of these three components: connection, communication and intimacy – all of which are vital to a relationship.
Connection includes feeling close to your partner, having shared values and caring about your partner’s needs. Communication encompasses understanding the other and being understood yourself. It also means being considerate and honest with each other. Intimacy includes being vulnerable and authentic with each other or “naked” physically, emotionally and spiritually. It includes having a sense of trust and safety.
Couples who enter into marriage undoubtedly have these – it’s a question of whether or not they can sustain it in their marriage. Which is why we want to talk about habits that incorporates these components in order to keep a marriage healthy.
Always greet your partner with a long hug.
Be excited when your partner gets home. Stop what you’re doing, give them a full body hug for at least 20 seconds and say something like “I’m so glad you’re home.” If you’re coming home, do the same, and say “I’m so glad to be home.” Hugging for this long shouldn’t feel strange as it is safe to assume you and your partner already do this or touch this long. 20 seconds is the time it takes to stimulate the bonding hormone oxytocin, which helps you feel closer to your partner right away.
When you’re getting ready for bed, thank your partner for a word, action or experience. If you go to bed first, let them know right before you head in. If you go to bed later than your spouse, write it down for them to read in the morning. This helps your partner feel appreciated, and helps you start focusing on what’s going well.
When couples disagree about an issue, they usually focus on making their point and proving they’re right. They usually focus on their personal perspective. However, this doesn’t leave much room for empathy.
Instead, say “Let’s Switch.” Then speak from your partner’s perspective, saying “I am (insert your spouse’s name), and this is how I see it.” Aim to look at the issue from each other’s perspective.
When your partner is upset and complaining, listen to them, without trying to minimize or fix their problem. As the authors write, unless your spouse specifically asks for a solution, they probably just want to be heard.
After your spouse is done talking, say: “‘What I hear you saying is…’ Then paraphrase his words. Continue by saying, ‘Did I get that right?’ and ‘Is there more?’”
Learn their poignant words.
Ask your spouse about the words that help them to feel loved and valued. For instance, they might be “I will be with you forever,” “I trust you,” or “I am here for you.” Once you know these powerful words, whisper them to your partner.
Every relationship requires sustenance. Healthy habits, according to the authors, can provide this nourishment.
Take turns sharing happy memories from your past. Be as detailed as possible. If you have a hard time remembering, use holidays and vacations as reminders. If you’ve been together for a long time, share your memories by decade.
According to Davis Bush and Bush, “You not only fill yourselves with the spirit and emotion of wonderful times, but you may also be reminded of forgotten times or see them through your spouse’s eyes.”
People change. This is inevitable. Talking about change helps couples build intimacy. It helps you better understand your partner’s inner world, and helps you reveal your real self to your partner.
Ask your partner: “How do you think you have changed over the past year?” Focus on being open and curious about your partner’s experiences.
This is another helpful way to get to know your spouse better. Start by asking: “What do you dream will happen in the next ten years?” This might be anything from taking a certain vacation to owning a boat to winning the lottery. Whatever he or she says, again, try to be open and nonjudgmental.
Circumstances might change in your marriage but what remains constant there is the fact that there are two people in that relationship – two people who have their own personalities that create the difference which can always be bridged by healthy habits. Reach out to your partner not just everyday but in anyway you can. A ‘thank you’, a hug, a phone call just to say those poignant words you know your spouse likes to hear are all good habits to keep your relationship healthy.