I counsel couples all week long. Its more dynamic work than individual counseling, and more mental work, and yet I thrive on the synergy in the room during break-thrus.
That said, there are some tediously repetitive patterns to why couples feel disconnected, disappointed, frustrated, deprived. One pattern I notice almost constantly, is that married couples rarely prioritize their marriage. My sense is that people focus on their work first, then their children, then running the household/maintenance, and finally their relationship. And it doesn’t thrive being in 4rth position.
Its freaky how our culture puts “money” at the top, and everything else has to get in line for a hard-working American.
Here is a pivotal tip: arrange a “date night” that you and your partner can rely on, schedule around, and guard with your life. Over the months and years, if you’re disciplined and head out on your date, it can save your marriage, as you can “hold” a lot of grievance and emotional starvation if your mind and body know that you get exclusive access to each other~even one night a week.
Additionally, if you’re feeling slumpy and disconnected in your marriage, try a few of these rituals from John Gottman’s “Science of Marriage” work:
Partings: Don’t part in the morning without knowing one interesting thing that will happen in your partner’s day– that you can ask them about when you see them next. You can go your separate ways after a 3-second kiss~
Reunions: Reunite with a 3-second kiss, followed by a stress-reducing conversation in which each of you share your frustrations, stories, and a brief recap of what happened in your day. Remember, this is a time for you and your partner to engage in active listening. Rule: Avoid interrupting, giving advice or fixing your partner’s stuff.
Spend 20 minutes a day upon reunions~
Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way every day to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation toward your partner.
Dedicate 2 minutes a day
Affection: Kiss, hold, stroke, pet, sit close. Hold hands. Play together. Go to bed at the same time, and work in a kiss before going to sleep.
Love Maps: Do you know what a love map is? Its knowing all kinds of details about what your partner enjoys, whats comforting to them, whats special for them.
There is no GOOD reason to not make your relationship a priority. Every bit of mutual effort comes back to bring greater connection, health, and meaning. Have a great date this weekend!