Showering. Brushing your teeth. Eating meals. Drinking water. Sleeping. If there is one thing that all of this has in common, it's the fact that they are a part of our daily routine. We do them in order to stay healthy and also in order to (hopefully) prevent any issues up the road. Well, this list that I'm about to provide you has a similar agenda. It's all about 10 things married couples should do, each and every day, so that their relationship can remain strong and so that, they too, can avoid problems up the road.
Yeah, it's 10 things and, at first, that can seem like a lot. But once you read them all, you'll see that all you need to do is a bit of tweaking to what you're (probably) already doing. And, with a little effort and time under your belt, you might just realize that these tips could be the very things that your marriage was looking for in order to truly thrive.
1. A Morning Ritual
Inc. once published an article about the five most important times of the day. The second one that made the list was early morning. The author said that the reason why mornings were so vital is because the first 30 moments of our day pretty much sets the tone for how the rest of the day is going to go. Whether it's morning sex (in the shower or out), cuddling together, taking out a little time to meditate and/or pray together, or even saying why you are grateful for each other or giving each other a word of encouragement, before jumping into the hustle and bustle of the day, wake up, pause, and share some quality time with your partner. Being able to mentally and emotionally connect with them, each and every morning, can empower you and strengthen your relationship.
2. Mutual Respect
Almost every time that I'm in a premarital counseling session, I advise that the couple get the book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. The premise of it is that women need love and, in order for a man to feel love, what he needs is respect (it's biblical; check out Ephesians 5:33; especially, the Classic Amplified Version of it). Now, it's another message for another time, how men's need for respect translates a bit differently than how we need it (the book delves into that too), but there is a certain amount of mutual respect, on a consistent basis, that all marriages need as well.
When two committed people truly respect each other, they trust each other; they can rely on each other; they honor the boundaries of their union; they don't try and change one another (check out "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You"); they support one another's purpose and goals; they listen and speak the way they want to be listened to and spoken to; they make each other a top priority, and they honor the position that their spouse holds in their life. A lack of respect is one of the greatest causes for the breakdown in a marital relationship.
I promise you, if you and yours make it a point and purpose to respect one another in these ways, you'll be planting good seed into your marriage for years to come.
3. Each Person’s Love Language Being Spoken
I'm pretty sure that most people know what love languages are at this point. But just for clarity's sake, the categories are words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gifts. Since one of the leading causes of divorce is poor communication, and love languages are all about "speaking love" in a way that your partner is able to understand it, it is extremely important that you and your spouse 1) know what each other's top two love languages are and 2) that you speak them on a daily basis. If you need a little inspiration in this area, feel free to check out "I Discovered My Husband's Love Language ...And It Changed Everything" and "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language".
It's funny because, at first, the word that I had here was "flirt". However, when I looked up the actual definition of the word, I was like "nah". To flirt means "to behave or act amorously without emotional commitment; toy or play with another's affections", and that's definitely not something that I would recommend that you do with your spouse. On the other hand, to woo is "to seek the affection or love of someone". In fact, wooing is probably a big part of what caused you to marry your spouse in the first place (because it also means "to seek the favor, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage"). Whether it's a passionate kiss before you head out of the door, a note in the lunch that they are taking with them, a "random" text or email during the day, a toast that the two of you make every night—be intentional about doing something to remind your partner that you appreciate and enjoy the affection that they give you. Make a mutual decision that you will find little ways to not take each other's love for granted by engaging in some wooing.
I recently checked out a movie that came on BET entitled Open (Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson). It's about a married couple who tried to have an open relationship and…all that comes along with doing that. Anyway, in one scene, another married couple were having a discussion about why the husband doesn't tell his wife everything. There was a line said that hit me in a way that made me write it down—"Since men can't be honest in their marriage, they spend half the time being quiet."
I do enough counseling that I totally get this. A lot of wives claim that their man can come to them about anything yet, when their man does, he is berated and/or chastised and/or dismissed and/or nagged and/or treated in a way that makes them be like, "Yeah, I won't be talking to you about that anymore." It doesn't have to be about anything related to other women either. It can be about finances, their job, their innermost fears, their sexual fantasies, their issues within the relationship—you name it.
Unfortunately, when a lot of people say, "You can tell me anything", the part that they leave out is, "So long as it's something I want to hear." However, a healthy marriage consists of two people who give each other the floor to be totally open, raw and real. The married couples I know who are the tightest are the ones who are the very closest of friends. And, a big part of what makes them friends is being able to be very honest with one another, all without the fear of what could come from doing so.
I say this as often as I can because, trust me, one of the reasons why a lot of people divorce is because someone should've said this to them before they jumped the broom. People who are grudge-holders and poor forgivers are people who need to remain single. To forgive is "to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.)" and "to cease to feel resentment against".
You're human; that means you are flawed. Your spouse is human; he is flawed as well. So, if you're out here thinking that both of you aren't going to offend each other or do something that would trigger resentment in each other from time to time, I don't know what kind of fantasy world you live in. In fact, I think that one of the main purposes of marriage is to teach us how to be better forgivers—how to extend the same kind of mercy and grace to our partner that we would like them to bestow upon us.
It might be that he didn't unload the dishwasher when he said that he would, that he forgot to pay the cable bill on time or that he told your mama something that you didn't want her to know, but believe you me, something is probably gonna happen today that you are going to need to forgive your husband for. For the sake of your personal growth and development, along with the health and well-being of your union, do it.
7. Some Type of Intimacy
The married clients that I have, they know that I am all for them reading and then applying "Married Couples, What You May Need Is Sex. Every Day. For A Month. Straight". If you check out another article that I wrote for the site entitled, "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important", you'll see that it's because I find sex in a marital union to be about so much more than physical pleasure or even a stress release. There are very few things that we can do with someone else that cultivates a spirit and state of true oneness. And so, it is my very firm belief that, the more sex a married couple has, the stronger their bond can become. But if, for whatever the reason, you're not able to get in a sex session on a daily basis—are you sure that you can't pull off a quickie or a little bit of oral?—at least make the time to physically and emotionally connect on some level. Cuddle while the two of you are on the couch. Spoon in the bed. Play footsie while having dinner. Hold hands while taking a walk after dinner. Do something that makes you both feel loved, wanted and present. In a marriage, this shouldn't be seen as a luxury. Cultivating intimacy is an absolute necessity.
8. A Spiritual “Boost”
Author Brené Brown once said, "We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection." Indeed. I'm a Bible follower, so I personally believe that God is a part of marital relationships ("What God has joined together, let not man separate."—Matthew 19:6—NKJV) That's why, to me, a spiritual boost would be about doing something that would make you feel more connected to your husband and the Lord (like maybe doing a devotional together or even spending time in nature together). But even if you've got a different set of ideologies, it can do wonders for your marriage to honor the fact that you and yours are spiritual beings; that, as Brené so eloquently said, doing something together that solidifies trust, respect, kindness and/or affection is what can nurture each other's spirit in a very special and significant way. It can be telling each other something that you've been holding in. Or doing something thoughtful for absolutely no reason other than you love your partner.
The married couples I know who have the healthiest marriages, they definitely are intentional about feeding their spiritual sides. Out of all that I mentioned, this could've easily gone on the very top of the list.
9. A Selfless Act
It is absolutely mind-boggling, just how many people who are, not only selfish in their marriage, but don't realize that they are. To be selfish is to be self-consumed. An author by the name of Mia Asher explains it in a great way—"The thing about being selfish is that you don't care if someone is at your feet begging you to stay with him, offering you the world, his heart and soul. It doesn't matter. You'll do whatever you want to do. What you need to do for yourself. Nothing matters but what you want. What you think you need." It escapes me right now, the movie or television show that I saw it on, but I remember that when a committed couple got into a heated discussion, one of them said something along the lines of, "When you decided to be in this relationship, you gave up 'me' for 'us'." So true, so true. And yet, why do so many people leave their marriage? Hmph. Just listen to all of the "I, I, I" that is in their answer.
Just like people who suck at forgiveness have absolutely no business getting married, neither do selfish individuals—people who only care about their own wants and needs and how they can get others to meet them. One way that you and your spouse can avoid being that kind of person is by doing something, daily, for your spouse that doesn't really benefit anyone but them. Picking up dry cleaning. Getting a favorite food at the grocery store. Cueing up a favorite program. Doing a house chore that the other hates. Running an errand that would take less stress off of them. A lot of people are miserable in marriages because they are selfish, they are with someone who is selfish or both. A lot of marriages could be saved if people chose to be more selfless instead.
10. Saying “I Love You”
Is it necessary to say "I love you" on a daily basis? Eh. On many levels, probably not. But to verbally express the sentiment is a way of showing that 1) you are choosing, this day, to remain committed to your partner; 2) that you want them to know that they can feel safe and secure in your feelings for them and 3) that you have a profound attachment, affection and desire towards them. Hmph. So, maybe it is necessary to say it every day, huh?
Now, here's an interesting point to consider once one of you has said it. The author of "Why You Should Never Say 'I Love You, Too'" shared that this is why he doesn't do it:
"There is nothing inspiring or original about too. Too is not an action but a reaction. It follows another's ideas and saps power from their concept. Too is the equivalent of saying ditto. Why would we ever add 'too' to 'I love you' then?"
"I love you should be a statement of power. It is something to say to another because it is meant from within the depths of our heart. When we tell someone we love them, it should be organic, brought about because we experience these emotions on a visceral level. Love is a manifestation of feelings we speak because we have lost all other words to describe the intensity we feel in a relationship. A good I love you, spoken at the right moments, compresses all the intimacies of caring for another into a few words that can be said to sum up the deepest feelings of the heart. I love you is often considered the end all phrases for affection. Why cheapen this powerful statement by making it an also?"
Do I think that what he said should be taken super literally? Maybe not. But I do like that it's a reminder to always value those three words. It can be a special sentiment—or even a grand gesture—to not just flippantly yell out "I love you too" as you run out of the door every morning but to instead, pause, take each other by the hand, look each other in the eyes and say, "I love you." It only takes a couple of more seconds, but it conveys that you are making the time to make sure that your spouse knows that. It's a way to honor love, your partner and your relationship with them. And that's something that both of you deserve, each and every day. Amen? Amen.
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