Healthy Routines for Marriage
We’ve all developed routines that are practiced daily. These habits have grown so repetitive that we often perform them on autopilot. Upon further reflection, we might find that some behaviors add to our health and well-being while others rob us of effective functioning. In many cases, an annual visit to the doctor, dentist, or other service provider may prompt such considerations and lead to healthier routines over time.
Likewise, couples who reflect on the health of their relationship have a higher likelihood of developing habits that strengthen and enhance their marital connection. Couples counseling is an excellent way of setting aside time to develop healthy routines and detect relational issues that could sabotage oneness. While premarital counseling is a great starting point, ongoing couples therapy can serve as an effective check-up or a safe place to explore deeper issues. In the process of counseling, couples learn that minor issues left unresolved can create barriers in developing intimacy and trust. As author and speaker John Gottman states, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” In addition to counseling, there are other healthy routines that may be enacted to create a firm foundation for marriage.
When couples enter a relationship, they often spend time getting to know one another by asking questions and being curious. Married couples could benefit from engaging one another as though they have more to learn. It is especially important for couples who have been together for many years to recognize that people are on a journey of continual growth and change. Just as we all evolve and learn new things about ourselves, we can also with humility learn about and from our spouses. Here is a list of great questions to ask your spouse to continue the journey toward knowing them better -> Conversation Starters
The concept of “dating” need not be exclusive to single individuals, it can be an effective means for married couples to connect with each other. In our increasingly busy and hectic world this can become a challenging undertaking especially for those who are raising small children. However, it can be managed by setting a realistic goal that matches the unique family dynamic of each couple. Specifically, going on a date one night per week or twice a month with a yearly weekend getaway is an example of a good dating routine. The key is to never stop dating!
While regular, and if necessary, scheduled sexual activity is healthy in marriage when both partners are willing and able, it must be rooted in the context of intimacy. In some cases, a paradigm shift is necessary to consider intimacy as part of the physical act of sexual intercourse rather than its equivalent. Intimacy involves a level of vulnerability that allows each partner to feel seen and acknowledged by the other. It is important that couples routinely talk about their sexual lives as well as the amount of intimacy present in the relationship.
Many have heard the acronym HALT which emphasizes the importance of refraining from making major decisions when hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. When we have not taken adequate care of ourselves or met our own basic needs, it sets us up for disastrous consequences. Similarly, in martial relationships, regularly practicing self-care can dramatically improve the way each spouse experiences the other. As with any other routine, self-care must be managed actively; and what better gift to give a spouse than a healthier you?
Every marriage is unique, and each couple must recognize their own specific needs as well as the season of life they are navigating. As with any great partnership, communication is vital, and must be cultivated by establishing healthy routines if the couple is to steer clear of pitfalls and build a successful marriage.