Perhaps the most important part of your life is your marriage. Whether you operate with this in mind or have forgotten how incredibly precious your marriage relationship is, the truth is that your marriage should be number one.
This isn’t easy. It’s very natural to put our spouse in last position because something’s got to give, and often our children and our work seem to be what screams for our attention the most. Unfortunately it is a lot easier to put our spouse on the back burner than our needy children or a deadline at work.
Let's dive into practical ways to engage the hearts of our spouse, thus, leading to a passion-filled marriage that is fulfilling and far from status quo. (SUBSCRIBE to receive more tips on a nomorequo marriage. Your best marriage. Now.) Here are ten to start with:
1. Laugh often. This is right up there as one of the most important acts to do with your spouse. Laughter brings you together. No one makes me laugh like my husband! He is so funny! But laughter is also a state of mind. Have it in your mind to stop taking everything so seriously, and you you will then be more apt to laugh. Instead of taking things personally, laugh at yourself. Instead of overlooking your husband, notice the funny things he does and laugh. Laugh loud! Laugh for a long time! Smile big when you laugh! You’ll see how this affects your marriage in a positive way.
2. Go on dates. You hear it said that when the kids are off to college, you have to get to know your spouse again. Don’t let this happen to you. Again, set a goal in this. How often are you going to make sure you go out on a date with your spouse? Once a week? Once every other week? Once a month? Taking the time to be alone with your spouse, doing something you love, will continue to rekindle your love, help you continue to like your spouse, and keep you connected.
3. Compliment him/her and make sure to do so in front of the kids as much as possible. Don’t take him for granted. Instead of focusing on the wrong things he does or how he drives you crazy or how different he is from you, take the time to notice the good things he does and the good person he is, and tell him so. When he cleans the dishes for you after dinner, say thank you. Take the time to notice how he looks, and tell him how good he looks. Voice to him how he is being a good father. Sometimes when you are frustrated with your spouse and can’t seem to let something go, being intentional about looking for the good in him is just what you need to put the frustration behind you.
4. Free up your schedule. Don’t be so busy all of the time. Say no to things that are taking you away from your spouse. Make sure there are down times throughout the week that you can be together. It is really hard to keep a relationship strong if you aren’t spending time with the person. It is easy to think that it’s ok to be busy because your spouse will always be there and this is just a phase of life. But, life is quickly passing by, and you need to see your spouse as a gift to enjoy now, not later.
5. Take care of yourself. Taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health will help you love yourself more, thus helping you let more love in your marriage. Do what you need to do to take care of YOU. This is not selfish. This shouldn’t wait until the kids are out of the house, off to college. Each day, recognize that taking care of yourself will impact every area of your life. Exercising, for example, will help you feel more confident in your appearance, which will increase your desire for physical intimacy. Eating healthy will increase your energy and allow you to pour more of that energy into your marriage. Helping yourself grow and develop mental and spiritual health will help you pour this health into your relationship with your spouse.
6. Sit around the table for dinner/a meal. Sit around the table and look in his eyes. Talk. Connect. Show that no matter how busy or demanding the day is, you want to have some time to sit and pour into each other. We eat every day, so having this consistent time to stop and be with your spouse will help keep the love alive.
7. Turn the tv off. Sitting together on the couch and watching tv can be a nice time spent with your spouse. But watching tv together is not nurturing communication or intimacy, so be careful how much time you spend doing this. Take a moment and add up how much time you and your spouse are spending watching tv together. Recognize how much is too much and make an effort to spend time with your spouse with the tv off. We opt to not have cable in our home, as an effort to not be tied down to television shows’ schedule dictating our daily lives.
8. Put your phone/device down. Our phones and electronic devices are perhaps one of the greatest tools to divide and distract us. They continually take our focus and attention off of our spouse. We care more about our friend’s stories about how much laundry they accomplished or what they ate for dinner posted on facebook than we care about our husband. Don’t carry your phone around with you everywhere you go. When at home, keep it somewhere so that you aren’t tied down to it constantly. When you go into a restaurant on a date together, keep your phone in the car. It’s ok to do without it for a bit. When in bed together, don’t be attached to your phone. When you are watching tv on the couch together, put your phone down so you can at least experience what you are watching together. Sometimes it helps to set boundaries, like allowing yourself to be on social media once a day for a certain amount of time. Then, keep it off and don’t revisit it. It will all be there tomorrow. If you don’t set boundaries, the device can become an addiction, and the minutes add up to lots of wasted time. Make it rule to not put your phone in front of your spouse. When together, use your phone for the basic necessary reasons. Don’t waste time with your spouse by scrolling through your phone.
9. Leave some things to be addressed in private. Never correct them or address something they are doing wrong in front of someone else.
10. Realize that your spouse isn’t perfect. Celebrate his/her strengths, and be patient about his/her weaknesses. Laugh about the things that drive you crazy. Recognize that you, too, can be tough to deal with.
Your marriage directly impacts your child’s future marriage. Your child is watching. He/she is learning how to be treated by his/her spouse. Also, your child is learning how he/she should treat his/her spouse. One of your daily missions should be to diligently show how much you love your husband/wife and how great marriage is. When I hear my children say, “Ewwww, gross” when I am mushy with my husband, I smile and feel that I have moved them closer to the passion-filled, loving and intentional marriage they deserve.