1. Say I love you.
Everyone needs love and needs to know they are loved. Tell each other that you love one another. Don’t forget the words and their importance. You may think, “Oh, he knows I love him,” but even if he does, TELL HIM AGAIN. If you think, “He hasn’t told me in so long, why should I tell him?” you’re stuck in a power struggle. Let go of your end of the rope, stop playing tug of war, and tell your partner how important he is to you. You just might be surprised. If your partner doesn’t respond, it’s OK. You did your part; keep doing it.
2. Pass little notes.
We all want to feel special. When we get little quick notes from people who are important to us, we feel special, we feel loved, and we feel cared for. Don’t let this giddiness of life slip away. You can express yourself in so many ways when you leave a note. Draw a picture, kiss the paper with lipstick, tell them how cute their butt it; it doesn’t matter. Just pass a little message to let them know you are thinking about them.
3. Keep it fun.
Not only is love the hardest thing you will ever do, but if you ensure that you enjoy it, the likelihood of its success is much greater. Couples who focus on joy and laughter tend to have higher levels of intimacy, joy and a greater ability to work through difficult things. Make sure you allow for the silly moments. Be sure you include fun activities that are outside of the box that keep the joy and laughter in your relationship. If you can’t think of anything, remember back to what you enjoyed as a child: Twister, Connect Four, put-put, 20 questions, hiking, bike rides. Keep it simple and pleasurable; don’t try too hard.
Even if you have been married for 30 years, knowing your partner on a private level is imperative. Go on a date, pick each other up, bring flowers (both men and women), make out in the car, go to the drive-in, have dessert after the kids go to bed. Whatever you need to do to make special time for one another, do it. Date and don’t just talk about your children. Talk about your fantasies and dreams. They are ever-changing, so keep each other informed and enjoy them together.
5. Have a safe person to vent to so that your spouse doesn’t get it all.
We all have a list of annoying things that our spouses do. I am sure your spouse can name half if not more of your list. The key is to have a safe person you can vent about this list to, who won’t dislike your spouse, and who will love and support you, tell you that you are totally right, and let you get it out. When we keep it in, the irritation adds up, and our spouse gets the brunt of our irritation. This makes for a difficult marriage as it is hard to hear all of your flaws all of the time. Find another outlet and lighten the load.
6. Keep Intimacy in your marriage.
Having sex is the closest two people can possibly get to one another. Without it, we miss something that is very important in a marriage and a partnership. Even when it’s scary and/or you don’t have time or you don’t like the way you look, make a point to push through the fear, concern and time constraint to be intimate with your spouse. Most couples are unsure how their spouse becomes interested or can “get in the mood,” so just ask him or her. Spend time getting to know what your partner enjoys. Learn what feels good for you, tell your partner and ask for what you need. Keep in mind that there are many reasons why couples have a difficult time having sex, but the primary source is medical ailments. If this is the case for you and your spouse, talk with him about how and what you can do to maintain closeness while effectively working with a medical condition.
7. Know how your partner feels loved.
Understanding the important things that make your partner smile is key to a successful and fulfilling relationship. First and foremost, ask him. “Honey, if I could do anything to make you happy, what would you want from me?” If your spouse is anything like my husband, he’ll will get a smirk on his face, say several inappropriate things, and then you’ll have to ask again. BUT… ask again, with a sincere smile. Tell him you want to bring him joy, you want to do things that are important, and you want to know what those things are.
8. Take the 5 Love Languages test.
Gary Chapman wrote “The 5 Love Languages,” which is an outstanding book on relationships and knowing what you’re dealing with. Learn your partner’s love language (Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Act of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time). Knowing what your makes your partner feel loved is not only enlightening, but empowering! Being able to take yourself out of the experience and think about your partner. Do something that makes them feel good. I know it’s hard to do (especially when you feel like you’re the only one doing it) but you will see the response, it will feel good and you will be surprised at what comes out of it.
9. Get a little closer.
Spend time together! We all need space, time and connection. Give it to yourselves. Hire a sitter, employ a grandparent or friend, do a trade with another family who has children, and worst case (this is the last option) put your children to bed early, and create a date experience after bedtime. The key is to escape your normal and experience a non-stressful, relaxing time with your partner. Find a way. Make it your No. 1 priority and let the connection begin! ☺
10. Don’t be afraid of showing intimacy in front of your children.
Model for your children what a loving and secure relationship looks like. Keep it PG and appropriate, but they too need to know you love one another. They too, need to see what to reach for, mimic, and have in their relationships as they grow older. You are their mold, fill it up with joy, goodness, honest conversations about difficult things, openness, and integrity — imagine how you want their relationship to look, and do that!
Image credit FreeDigitalPhotos.net.