On July 15, 2011, I walked down a flower lined aisle, in a beautiful dress, and made a lifelong commitment to my then fiancé that I would forever be his wife. I remember the day he asked me to marry him and how long it took me to stop referring to him as my boyfriend but as my “fiancé.” Almost one year later, I had so much excitement to call him my husband but remember missing my “boyfriend.”
Why is it that even in our terminology, “marriage” gets boring? Just the term “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” begs to imply the idea of excitement, fun, and exploration. Yet marriage on the other hand, feels heavy, implies commitment, hard work, and dedication. Geez, Marriage sounds like how a diet feels sometimes! Why is this the overall consensus? Who told us as a society that this is how Marriage must be?
It does not have to be this way. You can still be your husband’s girlfriend (or) wife’s boyfriend! If you feel like you have hit a plateau in your relationship with your spouse try a few of these tried and tested tips with your better half! (Please note, if infidelity has played a part in your relationship struggles, seek out Marriage Counseling for more in depth help on wounds, forgiveness, and healing.)
What was the first thing that drew you to your mate?
In the hustle and bustle of life, especially after children, going through the motions is all we can do to get by at times. Sometimes, you can literally be lying next to your spouse at night after 10 years of marriage, 2 children, a dog, and an expensive mortgage, and wonder how in the heck you got to this place and who the person lying next to you “really” is. We forget to continue, “dating.” Just because you said, “I do” doesn’t mean you stop learning about your better half; on the contrary, you need to continue studying your spouse as we (as all humans) continue to grow and evolve throughout our life. When you find yourself wondering why you are not getting along with your spouse or why there is absolutely “nothing” to say when you’re alone at the dinner table, think about why you first feel in love. What was the first thing you noticed? What did he or she do to bring “butterflies” to your stomach? Remember how you felt when she said “yes!” As you think about these questions, bring them up with your spouse. Discuss past fond memories and what “the good ol’ days” were like.
Make your friendship a priority.
Marriage is a union, but it is a relationship that has primary roots in friendship. You wouldn’t “dis” your friend, ignore a friends text, or demand things from your good friends, would you? Remember that your spouse is a person, with a soul, and with feelings. He or She was your very best friend at some point and should continue being that now. Tend to your friendship. Working on your marriage doesn’t always have to include the gushy stuff, go have fun with your friend! Laugh till you cry together, create something fun, work on a project together, help each other out, all like you would do for a friend. Go out of your way to help your friend out.
Have SCHEDULED date nights.
Ok, this one is a biggy for everyone! I hear these excuses all of the time: “we cant financially go out on dates anymore,” “but we have to pay for a sitter every time,” “there’s nothing to say to each other, so it will just be awkward,” “my schedule is just too busy with work, the kids soccer and dance classes….” And the list goes on and on. The fact is, we make time for what is important to us. This is the bottom line truth. You carve out time from your busy schedule to exercise before work (or if you’re like me, after work), you stalk people on social media, text your friends, help out family members etc. but the most important relationship in your life needs to wait because your schedule comes first? Do yourself a favor, buy yourself a calendar, planner, or just click the calendar on whatever device you are reading this on, and purposefully schedule a date with your spouse. Date nights do not have to be about going to extravagant places and doing crazy activities; you can have date nights at home. I know several parents who have a date night after their children go to bed. My husband and I have had our parents take our son so we can just have alone one-on-one time! Some date night activities at home can include: playing a board game, movie & popcorn, cooking a unique dinner together, dancing in your living room to smooth jazz with some bubbly, doing a devotional together, or have a massage night. Going out can be as simple as getting Starbucks together. The point of dating, is to have quality one-on-one time, getting to know your spouse.
What legacy will you leave behind for your children?
One of the things I would have to say I hear most often from couples who are also parents, is that they feel guilty leaving their kids or doing things alone. My friend, I must challenge this and urge you to fight that belief; have weekend trips, date nights, and even vacations, ALONE with your spouse. Remember, the greatest gift you can ever give your children is to show them by example that your marriage comes first! There is so much peace and comfort in seeing the unity and love between parents. Children who see constant arguing, no communication, little to no affection, grow up with a skewed understanding of love and marriage and some develop various insecurities and anxieties around commitments, self esteem, and family. Dad’s, the greatest gift you can give your daughters is to love their mothers! Show your daughter every day what she should be looking out for in a husband and life partner. Mom’s, the greatest gift you can give your sons, is to love their fathers! Show them what they too must look out for and treasure in searching for their future brides.
What is yours and your spouses love languages?
If you have not read the book: The 5 Love Languages-The Secrets to Love that Last I highly recommend you invest in this short and informative book. Sometimes, one of the biggest reasons you and your spouse keep bumping heads and not communicating is because you don’t understand your spouse’s way of giving and receiving love; and you, more than likely, don’t know your own love language. It is worth a try to read through the book with your spouse, use this time as a schedule date night activity and decide if you and your spouse give and receive love through: Words Of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts Of Service, or Physical Touch. Understanding this foundation will help you better navigate through your marriage, emotions, and personal struggles.
These five tips are meant for you to think through them. Marriage is tough! Two individuals coming together bring their past, their experiences, and their understanding of truth and life. One idea that has been monumental in my marriage, is the truth that my husband always has my best interests at heart, and I his. We will argue and disagree many times, but I can rest assured that it is not because of purposeful reasons and that the bottom line will always be that we love each other and care about each other more than any one else will! Make your marriage a priority. Flirt with you spouse, tell jokes, be spontaneous, and reach outside of “your” box; do whatever needs to be done for your marriage, your home, your love. I still date my husband because it’s fun and brings a breath of fresh air to our lives and relationship. He is my best friend, my forever date, and the love of my life.
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