Despite what cartoon princess movies illustrate for us, relationships are no easy task. As human beings, we eventually fall into rhythms, or habits. The habits we develop can have a huge impact on what kind of marriage we’re going to have. When you think of developing good habits, you probably think of more common pursuits like drinking more water, exercising or setting up a bedtime routine. The truth is, there are dozens of healthy habits that you could take up each day to benefit both the happiness of you and your partner.
The reality is, successful marriages don’t work out simply because they have no challenges; they work out because each partner develops healthy habits that build a strong marriage, in the face of challenge.
Here are 7 everyday habits that build a strong relationship:
- Make time to talk.
It goes without saying that communication is important in a marriage, but it’s surprisingly easy to come home and get into your evening (caring for kiddos, making dinner, etc.) and not have a real conversation with your spouse. Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day for each other. Share the details of your day, the goings-on at work, funny stories you overheard at the coffee shop and anything else that is on your mind. It is equally important to talk about bigger topics like your goals, your hopes and plans for the future and any stresses or happiness that you are feeling. Make sure to also listen to what your partner is saying in return.
- Go tech-free.
Creating everyday habits that build a strong relationship largely revolves around making your partner feel like a priority in your life. Nothing is going to zap that feeling faster than you checking a text or social media while your partner is trying to talk to you. Encourage a one-hour tech-free zone during the day to ensure that you and your partner have each other’s undivided attention. Eat a meal and don’t check your phone.
- Make intimacy a priority.
Have an open and honest discussion about what you need to be physically and emotionally intimate with one another. Sex, in particular, is one of the best ways in which partners can connect emotionally, but it can often come with weighted expectations and be affected by life experiences. Create a safe place for discussing this with your spouse.
- Consult one another.
A relationship is a true partnership. Don’t make big decisions without consulting your partner first. This does not mean you always have to agree; however you can at least accept your partner’s influence by hearing them out. This healthy habit of going to one another for advice or counsel shows your partner their opinion is valued.
- Kiss every day.
Remember when you were first dating and you felt like you could kiss for hours on end? Studies show that kissing and physical touch, like holding hands, has a strong impact on our romantic connections. You will feel closer emotionally to your partner when you receive regular physical contact from them.
- Give praise.
Compliment your partner for being & doing. “Being” examples: They held a door open for a stranger, or made a difficult choice over an easy choice. Tell your partner the ways in which you’re proud of who they are. “Doing” examples: Does your partner take out the garbage every week while you’re still warm in your bed? Do they make you breakfast every single morning, even though she still has to get the kids to school and head to work herself? Show your appreciation for how they take care of you and your family; look for small things to acknowledge that will make them feel truly valued.
Whether you’ve been together for 10 months or 10 years, reminiscing is a great habit to form together. Relive happy memories such as stories from when you were first dating, inside jokes, great trips you’ve had, etc.
Reliving these times together through your spouse’s eyes can bring warm and fuzzy feelings right toe surface, even in times of hardship or challenge.