This is a post that Ben and I are working on together. All the jokes among friends about having our own TV advice show has lead to the posting. These are steps that we have taken and feel have strengthened our marriage. Miracles don’t happen over night. This takes patience and practice. Take one or two of these steps and commit to practicing them for one week. One the second week, add one or two more steps, gradually adding more along the way. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do them all right away. It will wear you out, making you resent the process or even worse, your spouse. Also, it is important to note… do not expect your significant other to immediately reciprocate. It will come with time. It’s like giving a gift, you don’t give a present to someone and immediately expect them to give you one in return.
1. DROP THE DRAMA! Every little thing is not worth nit-picking. You know that you don’t like to be criticized, so why would you do that to the person you love the most? Life is just too short to constantly bicker with each other, so save the drama for things that actually matter. You’d be amazed at just how much less stressed you will find yourself when you stop the constant little arguments.
2. DATE NIGHT! Yes, we all know that this is an important one, but how many of us actually commit to doing this? I don’t mean fancy restaurants that break the bank and further stress you out. I mean simple things, like having dinner in your backyard or on your balcony. Don’t rush to do the dishes afterwards, stay and talk or play a game.
3. TRUST EACH OTHER! I hear from friends about how many fights they have started over a misconceived text message or email. Ben and I do not check each other’s phones or emails. Doing so would mean that we don’t trust each other. No spying! Again this is a source of a lot of stress among couples. If either of us has a night out with friends, we don’t play 20 questions when the other returns. The point is… they returned… to you! FYI, trust is given where trust is received.
4. SELF-ESTEEM! This means you! We tend to criticize our significant others when we don’t feel good about ourselves. Look in the mirror, are you daily in baggy sweats with a sloppy ponytail? This doesn’t mean you need to fix yourself up for him, you need to fix yourself up for you! I know it may sound a little 50’s housewife, but instead of getting up to do your chores in sweats, try a sun dress. Do your make up even if you aren’t leaving the house. You don’t have to do this everyday, but try it… see if you feel just a little bit hotter. If you feel hotter, he’s going to notice. This works for guys as well! I tend to notice on the days I put a little more effort, he disappears to the bathroom to do his hair or putting on cologne.
5. PAMPER YOURSELF! This goes along with the previous advice, but it’s important on it’s own. Take time out for yourself to destress. Take a bath or a nap, read a book, or go for a walk. 15 to 30 minutes of “me” time daily will do wonders when it comes to stress relief. A less stressed you will lead to less arguments.
6. COMPLIMENT THE LITTLE THINGS! Thank you’s go a long way in my house, especially for everyday activities. This one is easy and has a lot of pay off. Guys: have you ever thanked your wife for doing the dishes or the laundry? Ladies: Have you ever thanked your husband for taking out the trash or going to work everyday? Thank your spouse (don’t go overkill with this, you’ll sound sarcastic) for everyday things they do around the house such as cleaning or folding the laundry or for balancing the checkbook and paying the bills.
7. MAKE THE MORNINGS EASIER! Neither Ben nor I are morning people, so this works great for us. If Ben knows we are going to have an unusually busy morning, like early Saturday morning soccer games, he’ll set the coffee pot timer and have it ready to go. When it’s time for Ben to get ready for work, I’ll lay out his motorcycle gear and other things he needs to grab on the way out the door.
This is a great start to appreciating your spouse. I’ll post part two in a few days, but this is more than enough to get started. Take your time and don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results. I believe the expression is, “Cities aren’t built in one night.”