Yesterday, I shared WHY strengthening my marriage is an important goal for me. However, finding the time and energy to invest in marriage is not an easy task.
We are stretched thin between career aspirations, work responsibilities, household obligations, parenting duties, commutes, friendships, and general media consumption. It is incredibly easy to get too comfortable in our marriages and take them for granted.
Giving our marriages our full attention requires effort. I want my husband to feel cared for, loved, respected, understood, and validated. He is irreplaceable in my heart, and I want that to be clear on a daily basis.
Below are 6 many ways to invest in a relationship:
Be selective with time.
As a society, we are busy. There is not enough time to do everything, so I find that I have to prioritize, choosing my activities wisely. I try to remove distractions and time-sucks from my life where possible so that I can focus on the important life stuff, like my marriage.
One of the worst distractions for me is the never-ending hole of Facebook and Pinterest. I cannot tell you how many times I have unintentionally ignored my husband by being inexplicably absorbed with something that I am reading online. Ignoring him, whether I mean to or not, creates a distance between us. It sends the message that what I’m doing is more important than him.
Usually whatever I’m reading online is ABSOULTELY MEANINGLESS in comparison to my marriage. I can’t give up the internet entirely but I can avoid using it during family times.
Spend time together.
Making sure to spend enough time with my husband is often a challenge. One of the best ways that we have found to spend one-on-one time together is through scheduling specific nights to connect over at-home dates. (I’m planning a post on at-home dates soon!)
Watching a show together is nice (and we do that often!), but actually conversing with my husband makes him so much more attractive to me. I love to know how his work is going and his thoughts on current events. With all the hubbub of everyday life, I don’t get to talk to him as deeply as we did when we weren’t so busy with childrearing and careers. It’s nice to remember that he is his own person, with his own thoughts, ideas, and dreams. It helps me remember why I fell in love with him in the first place.
Sounds easy, right? However, I’ve found that it takes effort to stop what I’m doing and to stop my own thoughts in order to actually listen to what my husband is telling me. If he thinks it is important enough to tell me, then I want to truly hear what he has to say. Making the effort to fully listen to my husband is a small way of connecting during that moment.
I make it a point to kiss my husband before I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning. If he leaves for work before I wake in the morning, he kisses me goodbye. We kiss before we leave each other for the day and when we reunite during the day. It may not seem like much, but I truly believe our marriage gets a boost from the sum of all these small gestures of love.
Affection doesn’t have to be kisses. Holding hands, putting your arms around each other, sitting close to one another, hugging, and almost any other touching at all can show love. Even flashing a warm smile or giving a loving glance counts as an affectionate gesture. From my viewpoint, making an effort to show love in these small ways as much as possible is an easy way to invest in marriage.
I try to show appreciation as much as possible with my husband. When he does something that makes me happy, I tell him so. When he does something that makes my life easier, I thank him. I acknowledge little things and big things. Showing gratitude with something as simple as a heartfelt thank you lets my husband know he is valued.
I can confirm from personal experience that my marriage is much better when I am taking care of myself. For me, taking care of myself means I’m eating properly, exercising regularly, socializing with friends regularly, sleeping well, having a daily routine, and making sure my schedule is not overcommitted. All of these things reduce my overall stress load. Reducing my stress load frees up energy and time in my life, so that I can focus on things like my marriage.
Let’s be clear here: I don’t always fuel my body with the best foods. I skip workouts. I flake on friendships. I have nights of troubled sleeping. My daily routine gets interrupted. And my schedule is packed to the max some days. When several of these things happen simultaneously, I don’t have the energy to be extra lovey to my husband. I have a hard time listening and appreciating anything, including my husband.
The key is to realize what’s happening that is pulling my energy and my time away from the things I find important. Once I know where a problem is occurring, I can work on relieving that stressor to get my life back in balance. And once my life is in balance, I can use my energy to focus on my marriage.