There is really nothing in the world which flourishes with neglect.
Not your house. Not your kids. Not your retirement accounts, or your friendships, or your rose bushes.
And not your marriage.
Trouble is, we often don’t think we are neglecting our marriages. We see each other. We watch some TV together, talk from time to time. We eat out of the same fridge. Use the same shower. Love the same kids.
We aren’t fighting. That much. And we just had sex……uhm, wait. How long ago was that?
We move along thinking nothing is really wrong so everything is all right.
But, there is no “status quo” in marriage. Things don’t just “stay the way they are”. You are either working on your marriage or it is deteriorating. It is a constantly sliding scale either moving towards healthy & whole or towards distant & distracted. It is either a daily pursuit of oneness or a gradual decline towards division.
This got me thinking about the verb for marriage, “to marry”. It really only gets used in the future tense or the past tense. We are marrying or we are married. The active tense is only used on our wedding day.
But one day in the past, when we were younger and thinner and things were less complicated, certainly does not define our marriages. Our marriages will be defined in the actions we take each and every day.
We need to be active, present, and working on our marriages constantly. It doesn’t have to be laborious either, especially if we keep up on the “maintenance” and keep things from sliding into neglect.
We are putting miles on our marriages each and every day, but we can keep them running smoothly with some basic maintenance and some periodic checks “under the hood”.
- Kiss goodbye and hello.
- Ask your spouse about their day….and really listen.
- Connect at some point during the day – a call, text, email, note on the counter – just to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Try this, “Honey, is there anything I can do for you today to make your day go smoother?”
- Or, just do something you know will make it smoother – like bring home dinner, empty the dishwasher, fill the gas tank.
- If anything that happened in the day caused a little resentment, share it. Use an “I” statement, like “When you did X, I felt Y”.
- If your spouse shares something from the day that bothered them, listen and be thankful that they are sharing their feelings with you.
- Forgive the daily little stuff quickly. We all step on each other’s emotional toes. It is part of learning the dance of life together.
- Say “please” and “thank you”.
- Pray together. It helps with all of the above.
- If at all possible, go to bed at the same time.
Periodic Tune Up:
- Weekly “date nights”. Some “dates” can be sweats and a shared pint of ice cream over your current favorite Netflix streaming show, but try to get OUT at least once a month.
- Weekends away as a couple, preferably every 6 months.
- Keep learning how “to be married” better. Read a book. Enroll in a class together. Subscribe to a blog. Find a group of other married couples and do a study. Challenge & inspire each other to continue to grow together.
- Engage in a hobby together. If you don’t have one, find a new one! Kayaking, biking, geocaching, dancing, tennis, golf. Go to estate sales. Start a project together.
- Celebrate each other at birthdays and anniversaries. It doesn’t have to be big gifts or Caribbean cruises, but do SOMETHING to make the event not just another day.
- Give the 72 Hour Club Challenge a try.
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