Everyone wants to find true love and have it last forever. The ugly little truth is that things don't always work out this way—and we all know it.
Couples often ask us about the best ways to stay connected. The very fact that so many ask this question implies that early on in most marriages, couples become aware that things seem to be changing—and they are indeed. Can a husband and wife learn what to expect with these changes and how to stay well-connected in spite of them? Yes, they can. We would love to share with you a simple framework to accomplish just that.
First, here's an analogy that may help put things into perspective. Think of anything in your life that is valuable to you. This valuable thing could be your car, your job, or your home. It could also be as personal as your phone, your hair, or your body. Consider that thing you are thinking of as well as the time and investment you pour into it regularly. For example, are you always ON at your job so that the important people there notice your hard work and reward you for it? If so, you do this because your job, and the income it generates, is extremely valuable to you. Maybe you spend time and money on your hair; getting it cut just right and using all of the best products on it. If so, you likely do this because your hair, and what it adds to the overall you, is an important and valuable part of who you are.
Here's one more example. Have you ever seen a dog that somehow melted your heart the moment he/she looked at you and wagged his/her tail? Now imagine that we are talking about a stray dog that needs a home and you are able to provide that home. You take the dog in and bathe it, feed it, and give it ample amounts of love and attention. Your investment of time and money into this once stray dog has your friends in disbelief. They can't believe you didn't spend thousands of dollars purchasing the dog from a top breeder who you researched completely because the dog is obviously so well loved.
Now let's put jobs, hair, and dogs aside for a minute and get back to where we started—your marriage. What are some daily habits husbands and wives can learn to stay well-connected with each other, even after the euphoria of new love wears off? By the way, it will wear off at some point.
"You must try to make daily investments of time, effort, and possibly money into your relationship. You must treat your marriage, and your spouse, as something that you value deeply and love dearly."
If you only take away one thing from this article, what you just read should be that one thing.
Nearly every couple that gets married does so because they are deeply in love. So, what happens 5, 10, or 20 years into that same marriage that causes it to fail and become a divorce statistic? Trust us, no couple ever predicts their own divorce on their wedding day! Or to ponder this another way: How can you keep YOUR marriage thriving and strong so that YOU don't become another divorce statistic?
We have put together a short list of marriage mindsets you can adopt to help you invest in your marriage and be sure it continues to grow in value.
1. Learn to Appreciate Your Spouse and Your Marriage Every Day
It's too easy for each of us to fall into the trap of thinking that once we are married, we can pull out our bucket list, check off the "Get Married" box, and move onto other things. You would be surprised to know how many recently married couples assume they can focus their attention elsewhere and let their marriages run on autopilot for a while. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In a thriving and happy marriage, each spouse will be checking in with themselves and each other to make sure things are staying on track. This seems like such a minor detail that most people fail to consider how important it truly is. In marriage, the little things really are the big things. The things you do, or don't do, every day are the ones that often matter the most.
2. Make Time to Connect
Our society has never run at a faster pace than it does right now. There are far too many things screaming for your attention; social media, email inboxes, and text messages that won't care if you are trying to have some quiet time with your spouse. If you want a great marriage, you need to make sure that these demands on your attention stay where they belong—at the back of the line, far behind the importance of your marriage.
Many of you will want to blow this off and say, "This is not affecting my marriage." There is only one way to know for sure if it is affecting your marriage or not—ask your spouse. Each time you feel the need to check in with your electronic device, get in the habit of asking your spouse if it's ok. You might say something like, "I would like to see if I have any Instagram messages. Would you mind if I took a minute or two to check?"
Three things will happen when you do this. First, you will become aware of how often you check-out of connection time with your spouse to check into what's on your phone. Second, your spouse will start to be more aware of their own propensity to become distracted by their phone. Third, you will find that the two of you start to engage with each other more and will run out of things to say to each other less often.
3. Learn Something New About Your Spouse Each Week
In the beginning of any great relationship, it's easy to learn something new about your significant other each week. Heck, you can often learn several new things each day!
As a relationship matures, it becomes more and more challenging to learn something new. And this is precisely the point here. As your relationship matures, you must be intentional to know your spouse deeper and more completely than the week before.
Many would say that the highest form of love between two people is "to know and be known." Do you want to know what happens when you fail to do this? Your relationship will start to feel monotonous, routine, and even boring. If you have been feeling this way, now you know what to do about it—start learning something new.
4. Do The Work
If you want a great marriage, you have to do the work. Staying well-connected takes deliberate effort and intentional time. There is simply no other way to do it.
Remember that valuable thing we talked about near the beginning of this article? Your spouse and your marriage must be prized far above every single one of those other things.
If you treat your spouse and your marriage like it is worth more than gold, they will be! On the other hand, if you treat them like a mangy stray dog that you want to be removed from your sight, they will be that also.
So the choice is yours. How valuable are your spouse and your marriage to you? Does the way you treat them match up with the value you say they have? If you remind yourself that life will seem to be pulling you and your spouse apart at times, you will also remember that you are responsible for pulling the two of you back together and staying in love!
If you are ready to take another step in the right direction, we recently wrote a great article called, 10 Things You Can Do Today to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. In that article, we give you ten specific and actionable things that every spouse can do easily. We'll even give you a FREE digital copy of the poster we had commissioned as a reminder. You can use this poster to help you convert these ten simple behaviors into a habit, or adopt it as a family contract if you'd like. We love hearing about how couples use this poster so feel free to let us know!
If you have any comments or questions about this post, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.
By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at brad@TandemMarriage.com. Copyright © 2018