Wednesday

Ode to Marital Relationships


Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Wow, I am getting all personal this week. In honor, I thought we would talk Relationships. Specifically what we can do to keep our marriages strong.

Remember when you and your spouse were falling in love? You made time to be together and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Maybe you used to go dancing every Saturday night, took long walks together, called each other on the phone at work or school, or maybe your soon to be husband left love notes on your car all. the. time.

What about now? When was the last time you went out and did what you used to do when you were dating. When was the last time you left the love note, or had the romantic dinner?

When we are courting and considering marriage we are usually much more intentional. We make it a priority to engage in activities that make us feel close. Men are also more likely to be intentional when they are courting. For men, getting married is like buying a car: they research the best car they can afford, make the best deal, and then hope they don't have to worry about any major repairs for at least 50,000 miles. With this perspective, men feel marriage should be pretty low-maintenance if they made the right choice. Most men don't worry about their marriages unless something seems wrong.

Women on the other hand see marriage as needing more worry and work.

Right from the get -go, husbands and wives see things differently. Not surprising is it?

Did you know that couples are getting divorced later and later in life. It used to be that if you made it to your 40's and 50's, and you were still married, you would stay married. Think about it. It was very odd to hear a story about grandparents getting divorced.
That is no longer the case. We are seeing a huge increase in divorces in couples who are in their 50's, 60's even 70's. Why? Because while they are married they don't care for their relationship. The woman focuses on raising the kids, the husband focuses on his career. Then the kids leave the home, the husband retires, and they look at each other and realize they have nothing in common and don't know each other anymore. So they get a divorce.

Here are 5 very simply but powerful things we can do to help keep our marriages strong.



#1. TALK EVERY DAY
Specifically, talk to your spouse for 15 minutes every day. Focused, regular time to talk as a couple. This might sound like a very short amount of time. And it is, but most couples, over 80% don't talk to each other every day. Make the talk time a priority or it won't happen.

For my husband and I, our talk time is right after the kids go to bed. To ensure we always have this time together, we keep our kids on a bedtime schedule. By getting them in bed early, we have time to spend together. Pushing talk time off until late into the night means that spouses are tired and the conversations are usually less meaningful.

We also find time to talk right after dinner. We send the kids to play once dishes are cleaned up and my husband and I are able to talk with one another. Our kids know that this time is for us and are happy playing until we start our bed time rituals.

If we are not careful, our hectic schedules make us think that talking for 15 minutes a day is not possible. Sit down with your spouse and see where your schedules over lap. Make that time "your time."

#2. GO ON DATES
Research suggests that married couples should go on a date at least every two weeks. The LDS church admonishes that couples should go on a date every week.

You don't have to tell me how hard this is. I know. Impossible it seems. As married couples we start to trick ourselves. We think that just because we live together and sleep together every night that we don't need to go on dates. It is because we live and sleep together that we do need to go on dates. We might have lots of time together with our spouses, but it is not special time. Dates involve getting out of the house and doing something together for the purpose of feeling--not just living--close.

There are three main ingredients to a good date. Privacy, Enjoyment, and Conversation. Going out with other couples is fun, but we need time as a two some. Otherwise we forget how to talk with one another and being alone can become awkward and embarrassing. Funny, when we were dating, sitting across from each other in a restaurant wasn't awkward.

The date needs to be enjoyable. For both partners. Chick flicks for every date won't cut it. Try taking turns planning. One week you plan, the next week your spouse plans. You both have to be ready to do whatever is planned with a willing and happy heart.

Rushing to a movie and then home doesn't count. Same for bike rides if you never stop to talk. These are great activities and we should be doing them with our spouses, but we need to mix them with meaningful time together also. Date conversation works best when we leave tension and conflict out. It is possible to put troublesome topics aside for a few hours and just enjoy each other. If you have not been dating your spouse, conversation might be hard at first. Try thinking ahead, like if you were going out on a date with someone you were just getting to know. Come prepared with different conversation starters.

Dates will recharge your Marital Battery.

#3. CELEBRATE YOUR ANNIVERSARY.
Anniversaries are one of the least celebrated "holidays." As married couples we let this special day slide. We shouldn't. It is the birthday of our marriage. It is the day we committed to each other for time (and all eternity), it is the day that started it all. It should be one of the most important days of the year, every year.

We tend to let our anniversaries sneak up on us. We are unprepared, or even forget. I am not suggesting they have to be expensive days, but I am suggesting they should be celebrated and special, not disregarded.

Anniversaries can be hard. With other holidays we are taught what to do. Christmas, Birthdays, even St. Patrick Day we know to wear green. Plus our kids are always reminding us to celebrate these holidays. But anniversaries, they are more private, left just to the couple to remember, plan and carry out.

So...
  • Talk about the fact that your anniversary is coming up. Don't just "realize" your anniversary is next week.
  • Plan a special date or trip. The key word here, PLAN.
  • Remind your children and others about the anniversary. It is important for kids to know you honor this special day. It gives them security in your marital relationship and teaches them about love, devotion, etc...
  • Spend some time talking about your past and your future. Reminisce about the day you got married, the years that have gone by, and what your future holds. 
When we got married we most likely talked about how exciting our anniversaries would be. Don't let yourself down.

#4. GO TO BED AT THE SAME TIME
Ending your day together provides opportunities for connection in many important ways. Try to wrap things up and crawl in at the same time.


#5. BE MY VALENTINE
Valentines Day is a day to celebrate our sweethearts. I know that it has been commercialized and it is not important to some, but it is not going away. Don't worry about the candy and the flowers. Find a way to make it personal and meaningful to one another. Forgetting this day usually causes hard feelings and hurt, especially for women. We all need to show more love, why not on February 14th. 

There is one more key aspect to all of these suggestions. You have to talk with your spouse about your expectations so that the two of you better understand each other. It doesn't matter how long we have been married, we are still not mind readers. Discuss these suggestions together and come to understandings of how and why you will do them.

As married couples, we started so focused and attentive, but over time our engines begin to run dry and we forget to keep "filling our tanks." 

Now is the time to Refuel.
I know there are so many other things that could be on this list. Start with these. You will notice a big difference in your marriage.

DO YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE TALK EVERYDAY?
WHEN IS YOUR ANNIVERSARY, LET'S CELEBRATE.

Family Volley


10 comments:

  1. I really needed this post today! I didn't think my husband and I spent enough time together when we had one child, and then 4 years later we decided to add baby #2 to the family...now we NEVER get time together! Tomorrow night we will be going out for a few hours for only the SECOND time since our daughter was born in January. Two nights out in almost 7 months!??!?!? We need to make it a priority to spend more one-on-one time. Thank you for the suggestions! :)

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  2. Love your suggestions. Thanks. I notice a huge difference when we have date nights.
    And it's our 8th anniversary on the 8th. Yipee.

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  3. I think my husband and I both talk every day. Or we at least snuggle on the couch a bit. Dates are harder when you don't have any money. We could use some suggestions on that, maybe you could do a post?

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  4. i love these things. they are so important in marriage. my husband and i have been married just over a year, and it's funny how we are already so much less romantic, in tune, etc. you just get so comfortable in marriage and in your own personal lives (him with work and after work tv time, me with school, cleaning, crafting, etc.)

    The tips you gave all happen to be things we are good at now...but I know they will get harder once baby is here. So thanks for sharing the importance of these things so we can focus on not losing these "habits", so to speak, once our son is here!

    Oh, and happy anniversary!

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  5. I enjoy your posts so much! Sometimes I think "that is just common sense" when I read one of the suggestions, then I realize I'm not even doing it. Oops! Great food for thought here!

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  6. September is our month. It's my birthday, his birthday and our anniversary. One per week. We go on a date for each event. I love it!

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  7. It's our 5 year anniversary this week and we've been planning a weekend away. It will be the first time that we've celebrated an anniversary I think....? So excited. Thanks for this post!

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  8. Great suggestions! This made me want to recommit to making sure I'm doing some of these things. There's divine inspiration behind the order of what we're supposed to strengthen - first marriages, then families, then homes.

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  9. Thanks for the reminder that you still have to commit a little time and energy. I think when you get the rings on your fingers we sometimes forget that the relationship still needs constant maintenance to flourish.

    My hubby and I sometimes do "date night" with the kids, sounds counter-intuitive but we go to the drive in movie theater, it's cheaper than the regular movie theater plus we don't have to pay for a baby sitter. We watch the first movie with the kids and then put them to "bed" in their carseats make a little blanket barrier between the seats and snuggle in the front by ourselves for the second movie. A fun night for everyone!

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Hi Hi! It always makes my day to hear what you have to say. Let's keep this conversation going. Thank you for your comments. Don't want to leave a comment here, email me at blog.familyvolley@gmail.com.

 
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