As the humdrum of life takes its toll, as familiarity becomes contempt and priorities shift, we don’t often realize what we’ve lost until, coming to a halt, we wonder what in the world could have happened for a marriage to turn so cold. We no longer remember the passionate harmonies of that early excitement in one another and commit our energies instead to the mundane essentials of life.
It is not too late to change. It is not so hard to rediscover the joy of marital harmony and to again be one half of a blissful whole. It requires no reinvention of the wheel, rather, a little persistence in effort and patience.
Before we dive into a to-do list for restoration, here is a question worth pondering – why do you want your marriage to flourish? A marriage founded solely on a desire for personal fulfillment cannot conceivably thrive in a drought of loveless-ness; it is a small wonder that so many marriages are abandoned for this reason. If we are going to cultivate the energy, motivation, passion and interest to stay in the marriage, first and foremost, we had better get our reasons for staying married right. Our marriages should be the examples that people can point to and say, ‘Now that’s what it means to be in love!’
Therefore, here are some easy therapy tips that could enrich your marriage, simplify life, rekindle that romance and save your sanity in the long haul.
Have you acknowledged your spouse today? This is an element that we lose out on over time. In the courtship days, we are more keen and attuned to notice every little thing about that special someone. We all have a need to be seen, heard and understood. Our partner still needs to know that we ‘get’ him or her, so make efforts to notice. However, acknowledging is not limited to showering compliments just about looks; it means to express the recognition of their character, their personality, their sense of humor, and their words of wisdom.
Try to do it as you see these qualities show up. Hidden sarcasm will be counterproductive, so instead of, “Oh, FINALLY you are making some efforts,” or “it’s about time you got around to doing that,” try a simple way of appreciating and acknowledging their action, like “Thank you so much for taking efforts to do that for me.” This is all you need to say to lighten up the mood. Try to be authentic without expecting anything in return.
2. Keep Competition at Bay
Realize and remind yourselves that you are both a team. If your wife earns more than you, appreciate her for the hard work and how she balances both home and work. This applies to husbands as well. It does not matter who is earning how much as long as you both use your resources to bless each other and your family and use your resources wisely.
Do away with the need to prove to one another or even in front of the kids as to who is best and who is right. Learn to be a team especially in the areas of discipline, family outings and other family matters. Don’t wait for the other person to start; concentrate on your partner in blessing, in serving, in being kind – even if it is just pouring a cup of coffee. Concentrate on cheering your partner on, on encouraging and building up your spouse. Change can start with a simple act of kindness and it can start with you!
3. Don’t throw formality out of the window completely
We can be so nice and well-mannered with people outside—friends, neighbors, extended family, or colleagues—but we can be pretty brusque, demanding, and rude to those under our roof. While it is true that we should be able to put our guard down when we are with our family, but we must always be respectful and gentle. The truth is that most of the time we just choose not to be courteous, gentle, patient and kind. So choose gentleness and bring back the formal vocabulary that we often avoid for the sake of informality, such as ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ even at home. This would be another way of acknowledging them and being thankful for what they do—even the little things.
4. Make a fun list
Brainstorm and make a list of all the fun things that you’d like to do together. Make it a point to visit this list and cross off items as you attempt one item from the list at least once a month.
5. Have dinner together or share at least one meal together with family every day
Make it a point to have dinner as a family together at the table rather than in front of the TV. Take time for mindful, intentional, good table top conversations; make dinner time a meaningful, fun time to catch up with each other’s or your family’s day.
6. Go out for a date once a week
Date nights are perhaps not very common in our culture, especially because we as a community are family-oriented people. While it is indeed fun to include our children, parents, friends and neighbors, it is important to commit some time exclusively for each other. Leave the kids at a friend’s home, with their grandparents, or at home with a responsible older child, and venture out. A date night does not have to drain your wallet and always be a mind-boggling activity either.
It can be as simple as a walk in the park, a movie, dinner, or even going out for a simple cone of ice-cream. And yes, it is okay for you to enjoy your outings without feeling guilty about leaving your children behind. It is important for them to understand that you are a team, and need to get some special time. Studies reveal that parents whose lives have revolved around children are uncomfortable with each other once the children are out of the house. All of a sudden, they are thrown back together but are unsure how to relate to one another after the empty nest syndrome strikes.
7. Pray together
As the saying goes, a family that prays together stays together. It is important that you connect with each other spiritually as well. When you pray together you can shed your inhibitions and open up with each other about the desires of your heart for your marriage and yourself.