With a seemingly high divorce rate in our world today, and friends or family whose marriages may be falling apart, it might be hard to believe that there are relationships out there that are good, strong, and healthy. Happy relationships and marriages do exist, but not without the hard work that’s put into them. By making a conscious, thoughtful effort to do the work every day, people in relationships can thrive and be happy. If you want to be one of those people, take into consideration these five habits:
- Spend quality time together.
Quality time together is one of the key ingredients to a happy marriage or relationship. Notice that it’s quality time, not just time. Quality means more than quantity when it comes to spending time with your significant other. For instance, watching television together on the couch while looking at your phones doesn’t count as quality time together. Neither does eating together and not talking or interacting. Quality time is time spent doing things that will help you engage, communicate, and maintain a deep connection. Here are some examples of ways you can spend quality time together:
- Cooking a meal you both love
- Playing a fun game that gets you to think and talk
- Going on a hike to a pretty destination
- Working on a house renovating project
- Taking an art class or a workout class
- Express appreciation and give compliments to one another every day.
One of the worst things you can do in a relationship is assume your partner knows how much you appreciate him and what he does for you and your family. You must verbally express how much your partner means to you. Say, “I appreciate you and how hard you work to provide for the family,” or something similar to that. In addition to saying the words, it can mean even more if you show your appreciation, too. Here are some ways you can show your appreciation (in addition to expressing it):
- Make a favorite meal or dessert
- Do the laundry or clean the kitchen
- Get a meaningful, thoughtful gift
- Plan a fun date night
- Offer a massage or a nice shoulder rub
It’s also important to give each other sincere compliments (ones you really mean) about a cute outfit, a personality trait, or a cute quirk. Think about it—when you receive a genuine compliment from someone, doesn’t it boost your confidence and make you feel better about yourself? Why wouldn’t you want to make your spouse to feel that way? A little compliment can go a long way.
3. Focus more on what is done right than what is done wrong.
Everyone makes mistakes. Does the one wrong thing discount everything right your partner has done? Granted, sometimes those “mistakes” are bad choices a person knowingly makes, like infidelity or constant relapsing of an addiction. When something extremely hurtful has been done to you, can be difficult to work out the betrayal, forgive and move on, but it is possible, if you really want it. Remembering all the good things your significant other has done in the span of your relationship can help dissolve some of the anger and hurt. It can help you see if you truly want to salvage the relationship.
In the case of everyday things your partner does that you may consider to be “wrong,” like not loading the dishes or leaving clothes scattered everywhere, take a deep breath and stop seeing the negative. It’s so easy to get irritated when you feel like you’re free of faults and your partner isn’t. Remember that you’re not perfect either and that your spouse does so many good things. Do your best to always accentuate the positive.
4. Make an effort to be physically affectionate throughout the day.
It’s interesting how for some couples, the longer they’ve been married, the less they touch—hold hands, rub a back, kiss. The things that came so easily when you were dating may seem kind of awkward and uncomfortable now. If that’s the case for you, take it one small step at a time. Try to do one small physical gesture of love a day, whether it’s a quick peck on the lips, a shoulder squeeze, or an arm rub. The more often you do it, the easier it will get and the more it will become second nature.
If you already do these things, keep up the good work! See if you can do even more, like kissing and hugging each other before work in the morning. Hold hands when you’re sitting on the couch, or even just squeeze his shoulder when you’re passing each other in the hall. Also, make sex a priority. Talk to your partner about how often you both want it and what you’re both willing to do to make it a better experience for both of you.
- Try new things together and cultivate common interests.
Remember that exciting feeling you got when you were first dating and about to go on a fun date? You can get that feeling back by trying new things together. Not only will it bring back those feelings of excitement, but it will also help you discover some new interests that you both like doing together. That way, when you’re bored and both wanting to do something fun, you’ll have common interests to lean back on. Here are some activity ideas:
- Go on a scary rollercoaster together
- Go mountain biking
- Go to a classical music concert
- Go river rafting
- Go figure skating
The key is to figure out what you both love to do together and to find ways to start new hobbies together. This doesn’t mean you need to do everything together all the time. In fact, it’s important to spend time apart doing things that you enjoy on your own time. It’s just critical to remember that if you want to keep growing together in the right direction, you need to find new, fun things to do together to liven up your relationship.