Making a marriage work takes more focus than anything you will ever do. Feeling a consistent emotional connection with your spouse is the best way to keep those sparks alive.
Upon waking: Before the rigmarole of the day begins, take a minute to connect. Because I’m not a morning person, I often find it hard to wipe the sleep away and really be present in my relationship. But, making a goal to at least hug and make some eye contact before work and school preparations can start my day off with the right frame of mind.
Mid-morning: Send a quick text or email to your spouse when you have some time in the middle of the morning. Sending a romantic message is important on occasion, but it doesn’t always need to be. Just make sure the call or text is not too mundane or of the “did you pay the electric bill yet?” variety. Share a funny anecdote from work, a memory from your lives together, a brief “thank you” for something your spouse did for you, or something you like about them.
At lunch: Try to meet together for lunch when possible. This probably isn’t feasible very often, but making the effort to reconnect during working hours sends the message that your spouse is more important than the pressing deadlines and meetings at work. On those days when you can’t physically meet, have a brief chat on the phone.
After work: Before we had children, my husband and I were given some advice: after becoming parents, always take a brief moment, sans children, to talk and reconnect the moment you get home from work each day, making a point to teach your children to respect boundaries and allow Mom and Dad their time. We had grand plans to do this, but then reality hit, and clinging toddlers, dinner preparations, and youth sports schedules seemed to always get in the way. Train yourself -- and the rest of your family -- to do this as often as time will allow, and you will see your relationships change for the better.
Before bed: Make sure you go to bed at the same time. Sometimes I have to work on my editing or writing late into the wee hours of the night, and I appreciate my husband’s efforts to try to stay up with me. Although I don’t support the idea of both of you being sleep deprived, I do believe in the importance of turning in at the same time as often as you can. Having habitually differing bedtimes can make it easier to drift apart emotionally.
Anytime throughout the day: The surest way to kill the sparks in your marriage is to let those inevitable thoughts of frustration and anger fester and stew. We are all irritated by our spouses on occasion, and let’s be honest, we know we do and say things that annoy the other person, too. When I consciously make the point to remove negative thoughts about my husband from my mind, I feel more hopeful. Choosing to see and appreciate his many good qualities is perhaps the single most important way I have found to keep the flames of love alive in our marriage. So, next time you feel yourself getting angry over the sock bunnies on the floor, or your spouse forgetting to pick up the groceries, force yourself to stop those thought patterns. If needed, think of kind ways to address the issue with him or her, but above all, see the good that is there. A spouse who is seeing the good is a good spouse.
(An Idaho native, Deborah Goodman is an editor, writer, and mother of four now residing in Springville, Utah.)