In the marriage relationship, the occasional grand gesture or major course correction can’t hold a candle to regularly practiced good habits.
Here are three habits you can start this week that will have a significant and positive effect on your marriage.
1. Schedule Business Meetings with your Spouse
This may seem odd, but I’m telling you it can be a game-changer. Business meetings accomplish two important things.
First, life is complicated. Schedules need to be coordinated. Setting aside a time to coordinate schedules regularly will minimize the chances of cross-scheduling. This could be daily at breakfast if you eat together. This could be a few minutes on Sunday night. You and your spouse decide when to do it. Then sit down with the intent to coordinate your lives.
Second, and probably more important, some conversations that married people need to have can be unpleasant and difficult to start. I’m thinking of the family budget. Or something that has been bothering you for a while that you haven’t gotten up the nerve to talk about. A “business meeting” provides the opportunity to talk about those things. This is beneficial in two ways:
- You are more likely to start a difficult conversation if there is a specific time set aside to have difficult conversations.
- Knowing that a ‘business meeting’ is coming up frees you to enjoy your other time with your spouse without looking for an opening to bring up that difficult topic.
Business meetings don’t have to be about just difficult stuff. You can use this time to tell your spouse something you appreciate about him or her. Or mention a time during the week when you were impressed by or proud of your spouse.
Make it nice. Pick a time to meet every week. You know this is the “business meeting.” Sit down with a beverage appropriate to your lifestyle and the time of day. And talk through whatever needs to be talked through.
2. Read Something Together
Kelly and I read a devotion together most every morning. Sharing something we both read puts us in the same frame of mind for a while. It gives us something to think about together and to talk about. It really is a point of connection.
But it doesn’t have to be devotions. It could be another book. It really doesn’t matter what book it is. The point is you are experiencing this reading together. It’s almost like a two-person book club. Growth materials work well for this because the two of you can discuss your own thoughts about what you’ve read. You could try personal growth, relationship growth, parenting, biographies, history, philosophy, business, leadership, etc.
Whatever you read, think about and discuss will bring you closer because you are sharing your thoughts and reactions with each other. You will likely discover new ways you appreciate your spouse. And, if you have kids, you might just re-discover each other as two adults who are attracted to each other independent of your family responsibilities.
3. Pray Together
As a Christian pastor, this one is near to my heart. The act of sharing concerns and praying together bonds people. It doesn’t have to be super religious. You don’t have to light candles or sing a hymn. It is as simple as sitting down before bed and saying, “What would you like to pray about?” Then you hold hands and have a simple prayer about whatever is on each of your hearts. Once you get over the initial discomfort, you will find that praying with your spouse is a most natural and wonderful part of your relationship.
If you decide to start this, don’t make a big holy deal about it. If there’s something you and your spouse have been talking about, casually suggest you pray together about it at that moment. Hold hands and say a simple prayer. Then thank your spouse for praying with you and go on about your day as though nothing amazing and wonderful just happened (even though it did!).
If you are not of the Christian persuasion, try sharing an interactive spiritual practice from your own tradition.
These three habits are gold waiting to be mined. If you are not already doing these three things, get started and see if they don’t take your relationship with your spouse to new and wonderful places. I bet they will. And I’d love to hear about it when they do.