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April 15, 2013

Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong

We are always being told that marriage is hard work. Just like an old house that has been neglected and allowed to fall apart, a marriage that has been ignored will begin to crumble, and it will take a lot of time and effort to rebuild it.

But if we remember to keep up with the maintenance, our marriages, like our homes, will stay in good condition. When a problem comes along, it will be easier to handle, because the underlying structure is sound.

Here are three easy things you can do every day to keep your marriage strong. On average, following this program will add less than five minutes a day to your schedule, and the rewards will be enormous.

Verbal affection. It's not just a matter of saying "I love you", although that is a daily necessity. Listen to yourself when you speak to your spouse. Is your tone of voice harsh or gentle? Do you bark orders or make friendly requests? A soft voice and courteous phrasing can make even the most ordinary exchanges seem sweet. Use an affectionate nickname (not one that teases or annoys, but one your spouse actually enjoys). Think about the difference between, "Hey, hand me that thing" and "Sweetie, would you please hand me that thing?"

Express gratitude, not just for special favors, but for the ordinary tasks your spouse completes. Words of thanks and compliments mean a lot. Just saying, "Thanks for taking the trash out", "Mmm, that was a good dinner" and "You look fantastic tonight" will help create a positive emotional atmosphere in your home.

Physical affection. If the only physical contact you have with your spouse is directly related to having sex, you are missing a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction. Kiss whenever you say goodbye and when you are reunited. Hug each other often. Sit close together. Hold hands. Snuggle in bed before you fall asleep. Gently touch your partner's arm while you talk. Offer a back rub or a foot massage. Give a pat or a squeeze when you pass each other in the hallway. Put your faces close together and whisper.

Touch is a significant way to communicate love and concern for another. Research has shown that couples who regularly touch each other have less stress and may experience other health benefits. Touching deepens a couple's feelings of intimate connection. Although affectionate touching is often described as non-sexual, most couples find that frequent, friendly physical contact is the foundation for a more satisfying sex life.

Generosity.This isn't just about material gifts. Of course it can be nice to give things to your sweetheart. But it is generosity of the spirit that really builds love. Give your spouse credit for all those little things he or she does. Give extra credit for the big things. Instead of blaming, look for the reasons, and be forgiving. Be lavish with compliments and stingy with criticisms. Be generous with your time and energy. Turn off the TV and really listen to what your mate has to say. Do some extra household chores to take the burden from his or her shoulders.

Remember that small, frequent gestures have more real impact than a few big-ticket items. Stick an encouraging note to his steering wheel. Pick a flower from the garden and put it in a vase on her desk. Tell her how beautiful she looks. Give him a hug and thank him for cooking such a great dinner. Bring home a cupcake. Fill the gas tank in your spouse's car. Invite him to lunch. Take the kids out for the afternoon so your sweetie can take a nap. Give a back rub without expecting one in return. And make sure your calendar reminds you of all the important birthdays and anniversaries.

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5 fabulous comments:

  1. Yes, yes and all the yeses that ever existed to this post, Rosemary. Chock full of easy, practical examples. And the simple, frequent, consistent gestures are so key, creating stable, safe environment where both parties feel valued and deeply loved. Nothin' like it man, nothin' like it.

  2. Love these reminders, Rosemary! It may sound boring, but it's quite the opposite. Making habits out of verbal and physical affection and generosity make every day better. So much can get taken for granted, but never let it be your partner/spouse! Even if your habits are strange, like ours, they can be unique and special to both!

    1. CJ and Tammy, thanks for the comments. You're so right about the importance of creating a safe, loving environment with habits that are special to both partners. The things we do might seem strange to some, or boring to others, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the sense of we-ness that is created, the feeling that whatever we are doing (even just having a cup of coffee), it wouldn't be the same without you.

  3. These are great tips for our hubbies...and great tips for us as wives!

  4. Saved as a favorite, I love your blog!

    my page: Brice Dakins


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