There is a saying that goes “A wedding is for a day, but marriage takes a lifetime!” Wanting a happy and healthy married life is not just wishful thinking. Rather, it requires commitment and action, and the key is to be intentional and purposeful in your actions as you continue to invest in your marriage.
As responsibilities in a marriage surface, such as a busy career or children to care for, you may find it harder to prioritise your marriage and may end up neglecting it. How can a couple work together to build the foundations of a strong marriage?
Learn some tips from our experts at TOUCH Marriage Support on how to keep the spark alive in your marriage beyond special occasions, and see how everyday can be as special as Valentines’ Day for you.
MAKE TIME FOR DATES
Even though you are living together as a couple, it is important to set aside time for each other, on at least a weekly basis. You don’t have to wait for special occasions just to go on dates, and dates don’t always have to be fancy. Simple activities like watching a movie together at home, or going out for a meal together are still quality time spent together. Remember to put your phones away as well, and really focus on spending time with each other.
The key is to be intentional and to continue making time for each other, even if you are busy with work or your children. While juggling other commitments might mean that you have less time for each other, it is important to manage expectations and to discuss how the both of you would like to continue incorporating this kind of quality time into your marriage and daily lives.
LEARN EACH OTHER'S LOVE LANGUAGES
Everyone shows and receives love differently, and knowing your spouse’s love language can help you to show them love in the way that they receive it best, which goes both ways. Understand that people show love differently, and if your spouse happens to show love in a different way than how you would receive it best, it does not indicate a lack of love. For example, if your spouse’s love language is acts of service, you could show them love by helping them out with chores or errands. On the other hand, if your spouse’s love language is quality time, you could consider taking the extra effort to plan dates, as mentioned in the previous point.
It is important to communicate your expectations and how you feel to each other, as the other party might not be aware of the effect that their actions, or lack thereof, could have. Also, do take into consideration the tone of the conversation, and remember to express gratitude to your spouse regardless of your love language.
TRY NEW THINGS TOGETHER (SEEK NEW SHARED EXPERIENCES)
A great way to add more fun to your relationship is to try things that neither of you have done before. It could be as simple as going to a new restaurant for a meal or signing up for classes for a new hobby such as pottery or baking. This shared experience can help to strengthen your relationship and give you something to explore together, allowing you to rediscover yourselves and each other.
The kind of activity you participate in as a couple is up to your own creativity and comfort level, but it will be good to ensure that both parties are comfortable with it. The willingness to try these new things has to be mutual, although sometimes compromise is necessary in order to make it an enjoyable experience. It all boils down to the amount of effort that both of you are willing to put in for these activities.
PRACTISE OPEN COMMUNICATION
Communication is one of the keys in every relationship, and being able to openly share your thoughts and feelings with each other is crucial. Be upfront about things with your spouse, especially when it comes to moments of conflict or disagreement. Try to set aside time daily to sit down as a couple and talk about things – it can range from simple updates about your day, to values, expectations or things that are important to you. This can help each party to gain a clearer understanding of each other’s thoughts and preferences.
Do note that a couple does not have to agree about everything. Instead, you should aim to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspectives, remembering that your spouse comes from a different family of origin (FOO), that is, from different upbringing and backgrounds.
It can be easy to take your spouse for granted, particularly if you have already been together for a period of time. Showing gratitude to your spouse is a way to let them know that they are appreciated, and brings about positivity in your marriage. Look for the good in each other and tell each other so through frequent affirmations, or to practice the 3Qs and 1T, which is to look for three Qualities and one Task to show appreciation for. An example of this practice from a wife to a husband could be: I appreciate your hard work, your patience with me and the children, and your thoughtfulness for me. Task – when I was unwell the last two days, you initiated cooking the meals so I could get more rest. I am very thankful for that.
Couples can aim to practice this at least two to three times a week. While this can be awkward at first, with practice, this technique can enhance a couple’s emotional and mental wellbeing, as opposed to picking faults and tearing each other down.
Remember that the little things sometimes count the most. Special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine’s Day make up a very small portion of the year, and it is important to continue to show love and appreciation to your spouse on a daily basis. Hopefully, these tips give you some ideas on how to keep the spark alive in your marriage, so that you can enjoy a sweet relationship long past the honeymoon stage.
Want to learn more about enhancing your marriage? Contact TOUCH Marriage Support at [email protected] or click here to find out more.
TOUCH Marriage Support aims to enrich marriages to build a strong foundation for families. Through a range of holistic programmes led by experienced marriage educators and counsellors, TOUCH Marriage Support prepares young couples for marriage, strengthens spousal relationships, guides couples through conflict resolution, and empowers couples to navigate and cope with the stressors and challenges which they may face in their marriage.