Marriage is hard enough without having to deal with an ongoing pandemic. Many couples have felt stuck in a negative cycle the past two years (or longer!) without a clear way to break out. If you have been wanting to repair and reconnect with your partner, keep reading to learn 3 tips to enhance your marriage during the new year.
1. Dedicate Time as a Couple to Connect in a Meaningful Way
Your brain will reinforce whatever state you put it in. If you tend to fight, you’ll be great at fighting. If you often feel love and connection, that will become your default. Therefore, dedicating time to connect with your spouse is one of the most important tasks you have as a couple. And if something is important, put it in your calendar. I often hear couples say it’s difficult to make time for each other. That can be true, however we make time for so many other appointments, tasks, and people in our lives. Our partner should be a top priority (if they aren’t, consider couples therapy or a private retreat to figure out why). Get creative about scheduling a date. If you don’t feel comfortable with a babysitter in your home right now, maybe you can both work on a puzzle or dance to your wedding song while the kids watch television. Consider cooking that new recipe from a magazine that’s been sitting by your chair for six months. Or perhaps just sitting on a couch and looking at each other with a smile will rekindle an old flame.
2. When Communicating With Your Spouse, Paint a Picture of Your Ideal Future
Our minds cannot picture inaction. They only picture action. If I tell you “I don’t like it when you speak to me that way,” you are picturing the exact behavior I don’t want. If instead I say, “I want to have a peaceful conversation” now the picture in your head is the reality I am wanting to create. This simple neurological tool of communication is very powerful. I often tell my marriage therapy clients that working on just this one skill will improve about 50-70% of their communication. To test this, imagine writing down the last discussion you had with your spouse word for word. Now pretend that an artist is going to paint a picture on canvas of those words. Literally those words. Not the intention, but the actual words you said. Would you hang that picture in your bedroom? If you’re thinking you wouldn’t even hang it in your bathroom or garage, then that is a strong indicator to work on your communication skills.
3. Spend Time Alone to Recharge And Destress
Even before the pandemic, people needed time to themselves. Whether you are an empath, someone who needs extra time to process emotions, or just generally introverted, time by yourself is a valuable part of self-care and mental wellbeing. This time must be spent on activities that actually recharge you. There is a difference between relaxation and recreation. Remember that your brain will reinforce the state that you put it in. Therefore, if you are generally high energy and anxious, watching a sports game to “relax” probably won’t work. If you are generally lethargic or low energy, laying on a couch and watching TV could make your situation worse. Clearly and honestly identify what you need to recharge and refuel, and make sure your time alone aligns with that goal. Finally, many of us have difficulty making this time for ourselves. Help your partner. Encourage them to take this time. The investment will be well worth it for both of you.
The last few years have been tough for many individuals, couples, and families. However, if you make a conscious effort to create incremental and positive changes in your life each week, then this year can be one of your best years. Ask yourself, what is one thing you can do today to improve your relationship? Discuss your ideas together with your partner, and then get started. Investing in your marriage and family will likely provide the highest return of your life.
If you want professional support, click here to learn more about couples and marriage therapy.