I'm pretty sure most of us grew up hearing that the way we start off our day ends up setting the tone for how the rest of it goes. And because of this, that's why it's a good idea to do things like pray/meditate, exercise and eat a good breakfast. But as someone who's been a marriage life coach for close to 15 years at this point, when it comes to couples doing what is needed to keep their relationship healthy, while I am a big-time advocate of morning sex (morning sex is king!), I actually believe that how a husband and wife choose to end their day is super critical to their union thriving—and lasting. It's partly because the evening is typically when the most concentrated time together is spent. Plus, even the Bible advises us not to let our sun set on our wrath (Ephesians 4:26-27). Sounds to me like even the Good Lord himself believes that how we end our day can speak volumes to how we start off the next one.
That's why I wanted to take out a few moments, just to share some tips on things that married couples can do to bring peace and emotional connection to the end of each day in their own homes. While this isn't the kind of topic that is discussed a ton, if you make a point to follow through with all seven of these suggestions, they could be what helps to turn the days that you share with your spouse into many, many years of wedded bliss.
1. Give Each Other Some “Recalibrate Space”
If you work in an outside (of your home) office space, it's a good idea to get to work early. If you work from home, it's a good idea to not work in your bedroom. Why? Well, getting to work, at least 20 minutes earlier than your scheduled time, gives you time to get into the headspace that you need to be as productive as possible. When it comes to having a home office, that can keep you from knowing when to get off of the clock. Along these same lines, I usually say to the married clients that I work with that it's a good idea to agree to leave each other alone for a good 30 minutes at the end of each day.
Work requires that you have a totally different mindset than your home life and, as one husband once said (quite well, I might add), when you walk right into the door and immediately hear all of your spouse's expectations, abruptly switching gears can actually cause you to strip them (indeed).
This doesn't mean that you have to be rude to your partner (the Good Book also says "love is not rude" in I Corinthians 13). But what it does mean is, if there are things that you would like your spouse to do and/or there is a deep conversation that needs to be had, it can be beneficial, for you both, to simply greet one another and then offer up some downtime, in different spaces, so that you can later interact from a space of calm and a sense of readiness to handle what needs to be done inside of the home; especially after a long day of typically focusing on anything and everything but your house and/or what your relationship requires.
2. Share a “High” and a “Low” with One Another
Something that I "took" from the movie The Story of Us (Michelle Pfeiffer, Bruce Willis) is a tradition that would happen, with the family, at dinner time. Basically, every family member would take a moment out to discuss the best part of their day (the high) and the worst part of it too (the low). The reason why it stayed with me is, not only is this a cool way to spark up a conversation, but it can also help those who weren't with you all day long to get a perspective of how your time away from them went. Plus, sharing a high and a low can also cultivate a perspective of balance—to not only focus on the negative. Back when I was mentoring girls, I incorporated this, and I also do it before I start sessions with married couples.
If you've never thought about taking this approach before, I highly recommend it. After giving each other some chill out time, ask each other, "So, what was your 'high' and your 'low' today?" Make sure to listen without interrupting. Also, don't feel pressured to always have to give advice about what your partner's high or low is. Sometimes, it feels good just to feel heard and acknowledged. Bringing that type of energy into your home, at the end of the day, can also make the rest of the evening go a lot smoother.
3. Eat or Drink Something Together
Did you know that only around 40 percent of families eat dinner together 3-4 times a week and that 10 percent don't do it at all? The reason why that's so unfortunate to hear is because having a meal with the people you share a home with gives everyone the opportunity to decompress and reconnect. Just think about it—since everyone has their own lives and schedules, if you don't make a point and purpose to have dinner, you could go days (weeks even) without having some real heartfelt conversations. This is true whether you live in a household that has children or you don't.
When it comes to your spouse specifically, while you might work different shifts or there are other things on your to-do list that could prevent you from always being able to sit together at the dinner table, strive to at least make a point and practice to eat or drink something as a unit. Maybe pour a couple of glasses of wine and toast each other or commit to having a late night snack before turning in. Something as small as this is a great way to let your partner know that reconnecting time is really important to you; that prioritizing something like this is your way of investing into your relationship.
4. Try to Lighten Each Other’s Load
Proactive. I am a huge fan of proactiveness. Matter of fact, let me tell it, one of the biggest reasons why a lot of married couples struggle in their relationship is because one or both spouses spend more time being reactive (doing things to fix the damage after it's already been done) than being proactive (taking steps to prevent issues from occurring in the first place).
Whether you and your partner have been together for a year or for 10 of 'em, you probably have a "flow" to how things go when it comes to who does what in the house, who runs which errands, etc. Something that can send the message to your spouse of "I see you. I appreciate you. I want to make life easier for you" is to intentionally select something that they typically do and then do it "for them".
Remember, when you signed up to be a spouse, a part of what came with what was being a good support system for your spouse. Whether it's cooking a meal on a day when you don't typically do it, lending one of your talents to help your partner with a project of theirs or looking on their calendar to see what you can do to make their to-do list a little shorter, deciding each day to take some of the burden off of your spouse is one of the most beautifully proactive things that you could ever do.
5. Spend (at Least) 30 Minutes of Quality Time Together
How crazy is it that (when we're not in a pandemic), couples, on average, only spend 2-2 ½ hours a day (including on the weekends) together? Hmph. No wonder so many office affairs happen, considering you're spending quadruple that amount of time with your co-workers (geeze). Anyway, the only way that a relationship can truly thrive is if you are intentional about nurturing it. One of the best ways to do that is by spending quality time with your spouse. Cook together. Watch a movie together. Take a walk after dinner together. Read to each other. Play a board game. Crank up a favorite playlist and dance. Find a way to carve out, no less than thirty minutes, that is nothing but you and your partner's time alone. It's a great way to (re)connect while also conveying to your spouse that they are a top priority—no matter what else may also be on your plate.
6. Do Something Physically Affectionate
Whew. Marriage. Whenever I'm working with a couple, I ask them how long it's been since they've had sex, and they look up in the air like they honestly can't remember, I typically tend to say something along the lines of, "Man, if there's something I would definitely not want to deprive myself of, as a married person, is sex. With all that marriage demands, you guys deserve every orgasm you can find!" So yeah, I am a huge advocate of husbands and wives gettin' it in as much as possible (check out "Married Couples, What You May Need Is Sex. Every Day. For A Month. Straight.", "10 Simple Ways Married Couples Can Make More Time For Sex", "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life" and "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"). But even when sex can't go down, there's always time to be physically affectionate. Hold hands while you're sitting next to one another. Cuddle while you're sitting on the couch. Kiss each other while passing in the kitchen or hallway. Not only will doing things like this help you to feel closer to your spouse, the purposeful acts of affection can convey calmness and sincerity too.
7. Go to Bed at the Same Time (at Least Three Times a Week)
Back when I wrote the article, "7 Things Married Couples Do To Damage Their Sex Lives & Don't Even Know It", one of the things that I shared was there are studies which indicate that as much as 75 percent of couples do not go to bed together at the same time. This not only wreaks havoc on their sex life, but it can trigger overall marital conflict as well. I get that sometimes one spouse being a morning person while the other is a night owl, having extra projects to do or even wanting a little bit of time to yourself (especially if you've got children) can make going to bed together at the same time, seven days a week, a close-to-impossible task. But for the sake of pillow talk, more sex and honestly, a sounder night's sleep, try and commit to doing it no less than three days a week. Cuddling up in your spouse's arms (and maybe getting a little bit of midnight nookie sometimes too) can be one of the best ways to close out your night—and yes, start off fresh with a whole new day.
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