Friends before Lovers, seems to make sense, but so many of us forget to make it a priority when juggling life’s chainsaws; kids, work, layoffs, bills, not enough money, parents and family medical, psychological and drama issues, marital dissatisfaction and feelings of loneliness, being misunderstood. We’ve all been there; marriage needs to be a safe place for consolation, encouragement, and intimacy. I’d like to suggest three tips to help make your marriage more satisfying.
For the marathon of marriage, commit yourself to being your partner’s best friend, and behave accordingly. How well do you know him/her? When was the last time you updated your knowledge of what your spouse was thinking and feeling? Ask open-ended questions; what do you find exciting in life right now? Have your friends changed, drifted, or become a bit weird? What are your biggest worries about the future? What are our goals for the next 3/5 years as individuals and as a couple? How about asking questions that have no agenda other than connection.
Everything matters in long-term relationships. Can you tell when your partner is trying to connect with you? A bid for connection is met with a turn towards, or away and there is always a reason for a bid; can you tell when it’s to meet an emotional need? It is important to regularly turn toward a bid for connection; it will increase trust, intimacy and positive regard. I bet you do that with friends, turn toward your partner too, it’s polite! Responding positively to bids of connection, the small moments can hugely affect the course of a couple’s life, a fact that has been proven in behavioral research.
Identify those sweet moments and rituals of connection, and have a conversation about how you appreciate your partner. How do you say good-bye in the morning, how do you greet each other at the end of the day? How do you celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, how does your partner know that you love them and they are important to you? That’s a great conversation that will be refreshing to each of you. The positive loving moments that become routine will help steady and maintain the relationship when problems come up. It can be a part of your day that makes a difference in overall marital satisfaction.
We all are busy, pulled in too many directions, be nourished by your marriage, it’s the most important relationship of your life.
Published in Bucks County Women’s Journal; 2013, Susan R Hansen LCSW