I post a lot about keeping your marriage ‘alive’. I think it’s important. Between careers, children, and everything else that goes on in our lives I believe that you have to make time for your spouse no matter what. Your marriage is the foundation for all else you do so you need to nurture and strengthen that foundation to build a solid life.
Some couples schedule a weekly date night. If that’s something you can’t do, there are plenty of other ways to ‘date’ your spouse. From ‘date-ins’ to everyday actions, there are ways to date your spouse and keep that new love feeling alive. That’s not to say that your marriage won’t change and evolve overtime. It’s not to say that you won’t fight or go through slumps, but if you work at it, you don’t have to let those things damage your relationship.
New relationships are full of excitement. You aren’t yet comfortable enough with one another to share all your secrets or quirks. There’s an electric vibe between the two of you that begs to be explored and you end up with the ‘ten day high’ that seems like it just won’t end. No matter what we do, that feeling has to change at least a bit. When you know all of someone’s secrets and quirks, perhaps part of the excitement wanes. Continuing to talk and explore new interest helps to keeping the spark alive. You don’t have to enjoy everything each other does, but listening to your partner talk about what is new and exciting in their life can help strengthen your bond. Showing that you take an interest in each other’s hobbies, even if they aren’t your own, shows that you care. Trying a new activity together is also important. Whether it’s gardening, hiking, skydiving, dancing, or something as simple as collecting items you both love, finding a new common interest creates those first date feelings. You’re both stepping outside of your comfort zone and you’re doing it together, just like you did in the beginning.
In order to keep your marriage alive and thriving you have to incorporate your love for one another into everyday life. In the beginning, you likely held hands in the car, couldn’t pull away from each other for ‘just one more’ kiss goodnight. You likely didn’t care who knew you were in love and weren’t very shy to show it. As time goes on we can easily forget about those little things that made our relationships seem so special. You might forget about holding hands, sometimes you skip the kiss goodnight, and love notes often cease. Continuing to do whatever it was that made each other feel so special is a great way to keep those sparks and your love alive. Don’t be nervous to reach across the car to hold hands, leave notes for your spouse to find when they get in the car to go to work. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple “I love you” is a great reminder that you still care and you still feel as strongly as you did in the beginning.
Another important change to make sure that your marriage thrives is to not get so comfortable that you don’t try. Build up your own confidence in yourself and it will shine through to others. It is easy to use your spouse as a punching bag. Life’s challenges can be heavy and weigh us down at times. We tend to take our frustrations out on those we love the most, but we shouldn’t. Anytime I sit down to write about marriage, I try to share that message. It’s a hard one and it can start gradually so that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Nagging and bickering is NOT the way to discuss problems or vent frustrations. It doesn’t make you feel better and it starts arguments that should have never happened. Instead, tell your spouse what is wrong, address it, and move on. Think of your spouse as your partner to make it through the hard times, not the enemy. You likely wouldn’t have snapped at your partner in the beginning, don’t do it now.
Reminding each other why you fell in love can go far in a marriage. If he always made you laugh, or the way her nose wrinkles when she smiles drove you crazy, don’t forget it. Remind each other why you’re in love and add to that list as the years tick by. Don’t let the words grow old. Wrap yourself in all those little things that make up your love and nurture them.
Strong marriages take work, but it doesn’t all have to be hard work. Much of the work of marriage is a fun and enjoyable experience. You can start small and slowly build up so that you still get the butterflies and the deep red flush that came with the early days of dating. Life changes when you transition from dating to marriage, but it can most certainly be for the better.