"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." Maya Angelou
As many of you know, I see many couples in my practice. One thing I hear a lot from the couples I see is that, "I wish it could be like it was when we first met." To many couples this may sound difficult, but it actually isn't. You can rekindle the spark and bring fun back into the relationship. Here are ten ways to stay engaged after marriage:
- Stay interested in one another. Set time aside everyday to talk about your day with your partner. This is a chance for the two of you to learn more about one another's work and play. Stay interested in the conversation and remember to be a good listener when your partner is talking. For help with questions go to The Gottman website, www.gottman.com and order Love Map cards. This will help get the conversation started. They also have apps. for your smart phone.
- Try something new. Many couples get stuck in the same rut. They shop at the same grocery store, they always drive the same route, eat the same foods; they may even make love in the same room. I think you know where I am going with this. It's time to change your routine. Try a new restaurant, go to a new store, buy some new clothes, go on a weekend get away to a place you've never been, etc.
- Date once a week. Yes, you have time for this. Put your relationship first, again. Take time to make a reservation at a nice restaurant, buy a new outfit, wear some nice perfume or cologne. Take the time to get ready for the date, like you did when you first met.
- Respond to simple requests. Sometimes, the little things really make a big difference. Again, it's important to be a good listener in your relationship. This let's you partner know that you care about them and that they are important to you.
- Praise your partner in front of others. So many of the couples I see focus on their partner's weaknesses. I say, "Start focusing on their strengths." Brag about your partner to your friends and family. Find things to compliment your partner about. This will help keep the lines of communication open and it will also help when going through a rough spot.
- Complain without blame. When starting a difficult conversation, start gently. The way you start a conversation predicts how you will end that conversation, and sets the tone for future conversations. This is a great time to use "I" statements.
- Make fun a priority in your relationship. This can simply be laughing together. Remember when you first met. Fun was the priority, but then life took over and fun got lower and lower on the list. Put fun back on top of the list.
- It's OK to say 'I'm sorry.' This is one of the best things you can do for your relationship. A lot of people find this difficult. Even if you think you had a small part in the argument, admit where you went wrong.
- Tell your partner what you appreciate about them. The more often you say appreciations the better. Let them know you appreciate their sense of humor or their willingness to pitch in. This is one of those small things that will make a big difference.
- Make sure you know one important thing about your partner's day. This goes along with departing in the morning. This will let your partner know that you are on their side. If they have a big meeting, let your partner know you will be thinking about them during that time and sending positive energy their way.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is dedicated to helping couples through difficult times. She has been trained to use The Gottman Method for Couples. This comes with over four decades of research in working with couples. Please go to www.LessonsforLove.com for more help.