Marriage is haaaaaaard…am I right? Whether it’s your first year of wedded bliss or twentieth year of togetherness, it can be a downright challenge some days to share life with your other half. Throw in some kids, a dash of family drama, add a little financial strain, sprinkle on some sickness and mix in an unexpected life curve ball and it can be a recipe for marital disaster.
This year we will celebrate ten years of marriage. Ten years! As I look back on our time together we have had a BUMPY road filled with challenges, failures and adjustments. Our marriage has survived a few moves (both international + domestic), major health issues, two kids, a home renovation and an autoimmune disease. Looking back over our years, I can see that there is never one BIG thing that we have done to improve our marriage. Rather it has been many small things done with intention that have brought us back to a better place each time. Here are five things we do to improve our marriage that take five minutes or less.
Stop Doing Date Nights
What?! Shouldn’t you have more date nights to connect? I don’t mean stop doing date nights all together. Date nights are important. But, do you know what’s more important? Connecting everyday! Stop counting on date night as your only time to connect. If you are anything like us, we would aim for a date night every few weeks and then the babysitter would cancel. We would reschedule and then our kids would get sick. Eventually the date night stars would align with a sitter AND healthy kids…and then we would realize it had been three months since our last date night. Instead of focusing on connection during date nights, find five minutes for meaningful connection every single day. If you can’t find five minutes in the day to truly connect with your life partner, then there is a much bigger problem brewing.
Now, you might be wondering how can you connect in just five minutes? It is actually easier than you think, but it looks different in every marriage. Here is what works for us. Some mornings my husband will bring me a cup of coffee when I wake up and we might connect for five minutes about our plans and goals for the day. Sometimes we might connect for five minutes after dinner while we clean the kitchen together and talk about a concern we have with one of our children. Other times we might connect in the middle of the day when I want to
vent about communicate a frustration I have with something he did. See how I don’t let that frustration fester until date night? In whatever form it takes, these five minutes keep us connected on a daily basis and prevent date nights from becoming our only source of connection about our days, our feelings and our frustrations. On date night…when they actually happen…we can focus on making a fun memory together and enjoying each other’s company.
Learn Each Other’s Love Language
Everyone has heard of love languages, right? If not, you can read all about it here. Basically we all like to express and experience love differently and the five main ways are:
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Most people wouldn’t mind love in several categories, but usually there is one dominant love language for each individual. Maybe spend your five minutes of connection one day figuring out each other’s love language and talk about what that looks like. Then…here is the key…express your spouse some love in the way they want to experience that love. It sounds soooooo easy, right? IT IS NOT EASY. Like everything in marriage, it takes work because you likely express love the way YOU want to experience that love and the same goes for your partner. It takes time and intention to show your partner love in their most cherished form.
My husband…like many men…values physical touch. He loves hugs and kisses and everything physical that leads to more things physical. For me, hugs and kisses don’t always rev my love language engine. I am an acts of service kinda girl. So ,when my husband gives ME all the hugs and I fold HIS laundry…well neither of us really feel the love because we are expressing our love to each other in the way we each want to experience love. That is a big fat FAIL. But, if I give my husband some extra hugs one day and he folds all the laundry…the right way…well, SWOOOON. We are both expressing love for each other in our preferred love languages and the result is we both feel more connected and wanting to do more for one other. It is the opposite of a downward spiral…is that called an upward spiral? If anything , remember this…Once you learn the love language the hard work comes in consistently using them on each other. Keep reminding yourself because I promise you will forget.
Register For A Marriage Conference
Registering for the conference literally takes five minutes! But, then you also have to attend…and by attend I mean you have to physically and mentally SHOW UP with your spouse. When you learn a new skill think about all the different ways you invest. You might watch YouTube videos on how to do the skill, you might join Facebook Groups to discover tips and tricks from others about the skill, you might even enroll in an online or in-person class. So, why wouldn’t you also invest time and gain knowledge into your marriage?
Check out some seminars and see if any are happening near you…or far from you and it can double as a mini-vacation!
National Marriage Seminars (Online or In-Person Options)
A Weekend To Remember (Faith-Based)
“What Do You Hear Me Saying?”
This is my spouse’s favorite line in the middle of an argument. I used to roll my eyes, but then over time I realized it actually helps to resolve our issues…most of the time. During a heated debate people can tend to latch onto an emotion and sometimes that emotion can distort the words we are hearing from our loved ones. So, we try to take a breath and pause to ask one another “What do you hear me saying?”. When we do this, we discover that the majority of the time we want the same thing, but are expressing it in different ways. This phrase gives each of us some space to identify the underlying emotion we feel and can use words to explain the thoughts and feelings surrounding that emotion. Next time a disagreement starts to escalate in your marriage try to remember to take a deep breath, pause and ask your partner what do you hear me saying?
Look for the Positive
I recently saw this reminder and I loved it because it is true about life and true about marriage. My husband does something everyday that I could be mad about and in the past we have traveled this road. (Spoiler Alert: It leads to nowhere good.) When I am looking for his mistakes they become magnified and each one seems to be more glaring than the last. Do you know what else happens? I fail to see all the positive things he is doing. If I choose to focus on the mess that my husband and toddler failed to clean-up, then I miss seeing the quality time they just enjoyed together. If I focus on the fact that he didn’t empty the overflowing trash can in the kitchen, then I fail to see that he was on the phone handling a billing issue for our family. If I focus on the fact that he didn’t do this or that or that other thing either, then I miss seeing all the positive ways he is contributing to our family. So, next time you spot a shortcoming, practice turning it around. It will feel
impossible challenging in the beginning, but eventually it will be easy to spot the positive in your spouse when you are always thinking about the positive in your spouse.
Do you have any 5-minute marriage savers that have made a difference in your life? Don’t keep them a secret! Share them with us as we all work towards healthy and happy marriages that go the distance.