It’s probably the psychologist in me – and the countless hours of therapy I have provided to people over the years – that has given me the insight that all relationships (even friendships) are constantly evolving, changing, and requiring different things at different times – for each person involved.
As a result, you have to work at your relationships so they don’t fall apart right in front of your face. Which can easily happen because its easy to get caught up in the day to day, especially when you have work and you have kids and a house to maintain and you are expected to shower regularly – it can be a lot, it really can, and it can be distracting. So much so, that out of nowhere one day you are scratching your head wondering “how did we get here?”
It happens slowly, to the point where you may not even initially realize – but being disconnected from your spouse can be a slippery slope if you aren’t careful. I’ve seen it before with lots of couples, and while relationships take work to maintain, they take even more work and effort to repair once neglected.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for a little relationship maintenance if it guarantees a certain level of longevity and stability. I mean who wouldn’t be? Right?
I’m not saying that these suggestions are the end all be all to a happy, healthy marriage but these are the 5 ways I stay connected to my husband and so far its working for us.
1. Disconnect From Electronics
The baby is finally asleep, the dishes are done, the laundry is folded and the only thing on my mind is lying in bed with some reality TV on Bravo and scrolling through my Instagram feed – throw some wine or chocolate in the mix and I am in my happy place – for real!!
This scene is usually mirrored with my husband surfing Yahoo News and the result of it all is complete and utter disconnect from one another – and everything else. Sound familiar? Please tell me we’re not the only ones?
In my opinion, technology is both a blessing and a curse – when it comes to re-connecting with my husband at the end of the day it is most definitely the latter. To the point that we both decided that the best thing for us to do is completely disconnect and unplug from technology at least one night a week and…
2. Check in With Each Other
Our major check-in coincides with the night we unplug, but it doesn’t have to. We do it at other times throughout the week too.
What do I mean by a check-in?
Basically undivided and full attention on your partner – talk with them about their day, work issues or achievements, things that are on their mind, quite literally check-in with them.
Then I always like to ask the following questions:
- How can I be a better spouse for you?
- What do you need from me as a partner?
- How can I support you better?
For me these questions are key.
They prompt issues that need to be discussed in order for you to work on the relationship. And they clue you in on what your spouse really needs from you – instead of guessing or making assumptions or pretending everything is just fine.
The key for this to work effectively is easy but is often overlooked…
You have to listen.
I mean like really listen.
This is the biggest communication problem, in my opinion. People do not listen to understand, they listen to reply.
Are people even taught about active listening skills anymore? I honestly don’t know but here is a crash course:
- Pay attention (eye contact, lean forward, uncrossed arms and open body language, no wriggling around, avoid distractions)
- Verbal and non-verbal feedback (smile, nod, say things like “uh-huh”, “I see”, “go on”)
- Don’t interrupt – wait for the speaker to be completely finished speaking
- Ask questions to clarify (remember key points, repeat or paraphrase what was said, summarize)
Try it and I promise it will make a world of difference in how you communicate with your partner – and I don’t make promises I cant keep (I learned that first as a therapist, and again as a parent).
3. Make Them a Priority
Modeling what a healthy relationship looks like is something really important for me to do for my son. In order to do that it means putting hubby first – gasp!!
Okay, I know a lot of people think that kids trump husband – which makes sense since the hubby isn’t dependent on you for basic needs like your children are. The thing is though; husbands get jealous…even of the kids.
They want your attention too and in order to give your relationship what it needs to stand the test of time you have to give it that attention.
Telling my son “no” or making him wait an extra minute while I show his Dad some affection isn’t selfish. It shows, to both my son and my husband, that Dad is one of Moms’ priorities too. It also instills the importance of patience, compassion, and is an example of how to treat his future significant other – and what he should expect in return someday too!
It is totally possible to love your children and value your spouse at the same time – in fact it’s a good practice for a healthy marriage and a happy family!
4. Do Things Together
Find things you both love to do and do them together!! Cook dinner, run marathons – whatever your thing is doesn’t matter, it’s sharing that activity and time with your spouse that’s important.
My husband and I are the obnoxious couple that goes to the grocery store together. The whole cooking process is done with one another from start to finish – from the shopping to washing the dishes, it’s our thing and it works for us.
Marathons, on the other hand, would not work for us!!
Creating a meal together that we share as a family is something we both enjoy and look forward to. That’s the point of the whole thing – looking forward to that time with each other. It has become my favorite part of the day and is such a simple thing that has brought us so much closer.
5. Fall in Love Regularly
You hear it all the time, but date each other. Not just get a babysitter and go out to dinner, but a real date…like you did in the beginning.
It is so so easy to fall into the trap of being too comfortable with each other, not that anything is wrong with that, It’s actually the normal progression of a relationship: when you first start dating it’s the butterfly stage, full of lust and excitement and everything is new – butterflies are in your stomach constantly. As time goes on you just become comfortable with that person – and with that comes the luxury of knowing everything about each other.
The problem I have is that when you get comfortable it’s easy to stop trying – and therein lies the problem. So the simple fix is to actively do things that make you fall in love with each other all the time.
- Leave love notes
- Send sweet text or emails
- Bring home flowers or favorite dessert, just because
- Do things for each other without them asking
- Tell your partner how much you appreciate them or things you love about them
- Hallmark cards (I’m telling you they work wonders)
- Make-out like teenagers
- Plan a date (where you actually put on make-up) from start to finish days in advance – this not only shows thought and effort but that it is a priority.
Like I said before, these are not the end all be all of a happy, healthy relationship, but they are helpful ways that I stay connected with my husband – and we’re pretty happy!!