The wedding was off the hook – people still talk about the beautiful ceremony, the amazing reception and the picture perfect pair you made. Among your friends and family, you are THE couple – the one that will make it: in love, happy and strong.
It’s easy to coast along on that high for the first months or even years of a marriage. However, every marriage must have constant attention to keep the bond strong. Even the best luxury car needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Couples who forget this important aspect of marriage are likely to wake up one day and wonder, what happened?
To avoid being that couple, remember to keep these seven areas of your relationship tuned up:
Communication – I’m not talking about texts, emails or Facebook messages. Couples must have time every day for communication free of all life’s distractions. Put the phones down, turn off the TV and look at each other. Express appreciation for something they did, or talk about a favorite memory. Feeling the connection helps you both feel you’re back on the same page. If you have young kids running around underfoot, you may only be able to steal a moment or two away – but make the effort – it’s vital that you make it happen. Feeling heard in a relationship maintains a strong bond.
Touch – Touching is also essential to a strong connection. Non-sexual touch can actually heat things up between you two. Holding hands, resting your hand on the other’s knee while you sit close or starting the day with a hug (hold it for at least 10 seconds!) pushes the re-set button on physical closeness. Linger for a moment if you brush up against each other getting that cup of coffee to go in the morning.
There are other ways to show you care too – a quick shoulder or foot massage (be sure to reciprocate) is a tender, loving gesture that helps your partner feel cherished and cared for.
Sex – Jobs, kids, in-laws all seem to gobble up your attention and energy. As newlyweds, you may have promised each other that you wouldn’t let things slowdown in the bedroom. But as life gets hectic, you may find yourself zonking out at night without as much as a goodnight kiss.
Date nights, getting a sitter, or going away for a weekend are all ways to carve out a little time for intimacy. However, eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep help put you in both the mood and condition to make an early night of it and enjoy time with your partner without scheduling it on the calendar.
Honesty – In a healthy marriage, couples don’t feel the need to guard their phone or hide an email account. Honesty and trust are major components of a strong marriage. Successful couples see themselves as a team, guarding their relationship from outside influences and temptations. They share their feelings, challenges and accomplishments with each other.
They immediately put a stop to flirtatious co-workers, inappropriate conversations, and compromising situations demonstrating to their partner and others they value their marriage.
Commitment –A committed couple is willing to make the effort to learn how to resolve issues in a healthy manner. Being in agreement on values and goals, seeing the good in each other, and staying supportive through difficult times makes a marriage stronger as the years pass. Those in happy marriages don’t see commitment as confinement, they see it as a divine framework to grow together and thrive.
Money Agreement – No other topic seems to cause more headaches and trouble in a marriage than money. Having the biggest bank account or the nicest car isn’t what makes a good marriage. Honest communication, trust and teamwork can turn this sticky issue into a major asset. In valuing the other aspects of the marriage, money becomes a tool for living, rather than a bone of contention.
Safety – In marriage or any other relationship, safety is the rock on which the entire relationship is built. Feeling safe to express your feelings, fears, and dreams without conflict is what makes a relationship so special. Acceptance is another part of feeling safe. In a strong marriage, both partners feel accepted for who they are, without judgment or ridicule.
If you’ve fallen behind on expressing your appreciation to your spouse, been arguing about money, or dread going home after a long day, it’s time to do some maintenance on your marriage. Start by sharing this list with your spouse. Communicate without distractions, rekindle with a loving touch and restate your commitment.
If you need help to get back on track to having a successful marriage you may want to look into marriage counseling. I know you may say “our relationship isn’t that bad.” But as a relationship therapist, I am can tell you that many couples wait too late to work out their small challenges which end up being huge mountains that they need to overcome in their marriage. So if there is an issue that you and your partner have tried to resolve on your own and it continues to cause conflict in your relationship, I recommend you give your relationship a little maintenance by scheduling a marriage counseling session. Even if it is just for one session, give it try. What’s the worst that can happen? You relationship will either stay the same or get better. I would say your marriage is worth the effort!
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