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We are creatures of routine and can often find ourselves stuck in these bad cycles of either fighting, being too busy, or not having the right expectations.

The only way to create new habits to build a stronger connection in your marriage is to become proactive. Here are seven actions you can take to build healthy habits in your marriage.

1. Cultivate Positivity

Maybe your spouse says something critical, something off handed that doesn’t quite land the right way. Our natural response is to retaliate or shut down. This can easily put couples in a toxic cycle of tit-for-tat. Trust us, we ran on that treadmill for years.

ACTION: You can actually stop these tiffs in their tracks by simply reminding yourself of the amazing qualities of your spouse. Jot them down on a post-it, your phone, or somewhere handy and pull them out as a reminder that you’re on the same team.

2. Compliment Often

It’s not enough to know how much you might love your spouse, you need to communicate that as often as possible. Words are extremely powerful.

ACTION: Practice The 60 Second Blessing. Simply take 60 seconds each and share all the wonderful characteristics of your spouse. This can be done over the phone, via text, or through notes, but it’s most powerful when done in person. Who doesn’t have two minutes a day?!

3. Dream Together

Couples who stop sharing common goals together often drift apart, and become more like roommates than lovers. You must cultivate a sense of excitement and anticipation about the future, which helps carry you through those dry seasons.

ACTION: Research your next vacation as a couple together. Find a destination that you both want to go to and find some common activities you want to enjoy (if you know what I mean).

4. Own Your Mistakes

We are constantly making mistakes and fail to deliver on our promises. When you apologize, it shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions in the marriage.

ACTION: Ask your spouse frequently if there is anything you need to apologize for in the relationship. This gives opportunities to face conflict when you are not in the heat of the moment.

5. Pray together

There is power in prayer as it is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned and hope is lifted. And when couples do this together, they simply become unstoppable in all that they do.

ACTION: There’s nothing formal about our times of prayer. When we talk to God, we find ourselves offering thanks for what we have and offering requests of protection over those we know. We find ways to also pray over each other based on what we’ve shared throughout the day.

6. Go on Date Nights

Yup, you guessed it. Our go to cure for 100% of couples we coach. Date nights are about rekindling the romance and friendship by building emotional intimacy.

ACTION: Take action now! Mark your calendar for your next date night. No talking about the kids or your money.

7. Listen With Empathy

None of us want to be fixed, judged, minimized or ignored while we’re sharing our thoughts and desires. Unless your spouse asks for your suggestions and help, they probably just want to be heard.

ACTION: Make eye contact and limit all distractions. Validate their emotions by restating what you just heard them share. Do your best to not interrupt and be fully present when they’re talking.

A thriving couple is not a perfect couple that comes together, but an imperfect couple that learns to enjoy each other’s differences, and works together every day to create something special.

A great marriage doesn’t happen by accident, it requires effort and care to endure and evolve in ways that keep both partners fulfilled.

Reposted with permission. Read the original article here.