One very important part of being united as a family is having a great relationship with your spouse. When you are one, it cultivates an atmosphere of unity for the rest of the family and enhances good feelings in the home as well.
There are times when I feel like our lives are a crazy whirlwind and we are just getting by. Sometimes we don’t even see each other until we go to bed. It seems that the world has over-complicated our lives with so many distractions and choices to keep us busy. Ultimately, what you find most important makes it to the top of the “to do” list. Does your spouse make it to the top of your list? I know our relationship can feel the pull of the numerous activities our family is involved in. It is important to make the most of the time you do have together. Make your time together intentional…plan it out. Add variety to bring your relationship closer.
I remember hearing a song years ago by Julie De Azevedo about what happens after “Happily Ever After“. The words have always stuck with me. The princess finds her prince and they get married…then what? There are disappointments, tears, battles, and disasters. They conquer them together with the help of the Savior. There is so much more to making a marriage work than what the fairy tales show. It takes so much commitment and effort AFTER the marriage. But it is so worth the struggle!!! Happily Ever After isn’t just a fairy tale. It is possible after all. Here are a few things that have helped us.
Take a couple inventory. Sunday nights are a sacred time for us. We try to put the kids just a little bit earlier so we can have some alone time together. No electronics are allowed, except for some calming music. We spend time discussing life, our kids, our struggles, our relationship, or any other concerns either of us might have. It is my favorite way to start another hectic week. There is something about being on the same page and sharing our challenges together. My friend told me once that she was trying to spend 10′ a day with her husband discussing something other than kids and work. I think that would be a great challenge too.
Walk down memory lane. It’s fun to reminisce about the early, carefree days in our marriage. It always seems to bring us closer. Next time you are alone together, take time to remember the good times in your life.
Find each other’s personality colors and Love Languages. You and your spouse are different…SURPRISE! You have different needs and may even express love in different ways. This can present a challenge in a relationship. For instance, my husband’s love language is service and mine is words of affirmation. So if I tell him all the time that he is amazing and wonderful (which would mean a lot to me), it doesn’t speak to him as much as doing the dishes or taking his car into the shop would. It’s fun to try different personality quizzes online and discover ways to handle each other’s differences better.
Focus on the positives. Another important part of your relationship is your attitude and what you notice (good or bad) about your spouse. Try to focus on the good…let go of the silly annoyances that your spouse does. I remember reading a story once about a lady who made a list of things that her husband did that bugged her (Specifically how he ate grapefruit). She let it fester and finally told him all the things that annoyed her and then asked her husband to do the same. He responded that he couldn’t think of anything that he didn’t like about her. She was shocked! It really changed the way she looked at him. She calls it the “grapefruit syndrome“. You can focus on all the little things that annoy you or you can look at the good things about your spouse. I remember when we were first married, our first fight was about which way the utensils should go in the dishwasher-up or down. He grew up putting them upside down because the handles were so thin they fell through. It seems so silly to me now. I’m just happy if the dishes get done! Also, don’t husband bash with your friends. If you have to talk about him, focus on the good things that he does.
Try something new to improve your relationship. I read a book by John M. Gottman about how to improve your relationship. He suggests a 7 week exercise where you write one good thing about your spouse each day. He gives questions to discuss with each other, better words to use to express yourself, and how to cherish your partner more fully. I really want to try some of these suggestions out. Good marriages take work, lots and lots of love, positivity, kindness, and forgiveness. Try something new today.
Say a little prayer. I have found that when my husband starts to annoy me, I really need to get down on my knees and pray for our relationship and then get up and do something kind for him. There is no one more invested in your relationship than God. He can help you know how to improve and make your relationship work and bring peace and happiness there. You are both human and will make mistakes. God can help you both forgive and love each other. Ask Him to guide you and help bring you closer. He will. Also, pray morning and evening as a couple together.
Thomas S. Monson shared advice he received when he got married. He was counselled to pray together as a couple morning and night. “I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another. Pure love will fill the room and your hearts.”
Do something kind. Go the extra mile to do something special for your spouse. Leave a love note on his steering wheel, send him an unexpectedly loving text or email during the day, make him a candy-gram, surprise him with a kid-less candlelight dinner, whatever will surprise him and make him smile.
Read scriptures together. We read scriptures together right before we go to bed. I love that we can spend a little time reading the word of the Lord together before we go to sleep. This is a great way to bring the Spirit into our home and marriage and help us grow closer together.
Go on a weekly date together. We really love this tradition. Sometimes it gets tricky arranging it with our busy schedules, but we make it work. Last week it was a quick breakfast in between lots of other activities. You don’t even have to spend money. When our kids were younger, we would swap with other parents in the area or take the kids to Grandma’s. Some of our favorite dates together include…
- Walks. When it is cooler, we will just go out for 1/2 hour in the neighborhood. I love our talks!
- Drives. Driving to new places is a lot of fun for us. Talking along the way can be enlightening. We also enjoy exploring ghost towns or nearby towns.
- Sports. Basketball, pickleball, golf, soccer, racquetball, even just throwing the frisbee around. It’s fun to get a group together to play.
- Outdoors. Hiking and exploring nature is one of our favorite things. Take a tram ride, mountain bike, go to a lake, a park, snow shoe, even just building a snowman.
- Games. Board games are fun, We like to play Sequence, Cribbage, Skip Bo, Golf, Wii, Ping pong, darts, arcade basketball, going to the arcades, bowling, mini-golf, Top Golf, etc. Have some friends over and do a group game night. We have had a lot of fun doing this.
- Service. You want a great date that will bring you closer and make you feel good? Go and serve together. We love to go to the temple together, once we went and fed the homeless, or visit the sick together.
- Events. Concerts, plays, movies, comedy shows, art exhibits, sporting events, rodeos, corn mazes, paint night, cooking classes.
- Dating Divas have a lot of really creative, fun date night ideas and printables that we have enjoyed.
You can find things that are fun and interesting for both of you to do together. Make time for your spouse. It will make a difference in your relationship! Mix it up with free and paid events. Get creative and continue to make new memories together. Have fun!