No one says "I Do" lightly. At the wedding, both the bride and the groom are hopeful that they will stay together until "death do us part". And yet, over 50 percent of all currently married couples will one day sever the knot.
So how can you stay connected, keep your love alive, and grow together through all of life's circumstances? The following 6 tips are unusual, perhaps even counter-intuitive. Yet, if followed, they will boost your intimacy and keep your marriage strong. Have you tried any of them?
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1. Don't sleep in the same bed. In general, it's advisable to sleep in the same bed... but not always! Some couples find that sleeping together starts to insidiously create a war zone between them. One of them wants the room cold, the other wants it warm. One of them wants heavy blankets, the other wants light quilts. One of them wants the windows open, the other wants them tightly shut. One wants a nightlight and a radio on the other wants total darkness and complete silence. One person kicks at night, the other one snores. When two people have such contrary sleeping habits, compromise can be virtually impossible.
So rather than sleeping together in resentment and agitation and rarely getting enough shut-eye — move to another mattress! Then, have a great night's sleep and schedule "visitations" with each other (morning, noon, or night). When you visit each other's bed, snuggle, and let nature take its course.
2. Spend time apart. Most of us assume that spending time together is key to a strong relationship. And time together is advisable. However, time apart (in moderation) is also advisable. When you spend time apart, you have a chance to develop and maintain key parts of yourself. You also experience the heightened emotions of missing your beloved (absence makes the heart grow fonder). Finally, you have a chance to reflect on your relationship and what you value about it. When apart, keep connected to your partner with texts, emails, and phone message. Know that spending time apart can make your union stronger when you are back together again.
3. Argue regularly. Conflict is inevitable. You might recoil from it, but conflict has its benefits if you use it productively. Use respectful language with each other and be willing to listen to your partner. Regular healthy disagreements offer 3 benefits:
- You get to better understand your partner's needs
- You get to be heard
- You get to repair the disagreement (i.e. kiss and make up). When you use these three skills (respectful speech, active listening, and loving repair), conflict helps you grow as a couple. So argue away!
4. Don't go on dates. What I mean is, don't go on bad dates. Dates in which you argue about work, about kids, or about finances are downright toxic. Dates in which you bring out a laundry list of complaints are dreadful. Dates in which you sit in stony silence are worse than going on no date at all. When you go out on a date, you want to be in a space of carefree fun, of flirtation, of comfort, of connecting with the person whom you most love in the world. Try reminiscing about old times together as a way of stoking the fire between you. Also, try dreaming about the future as a way to jump-start intimate conversation. Many couples who have been together for a long time forget to have fun together.
5. Sex isn't healthy. That is, if it's your only means of intimate connection. Sex should be part of a pattern of talking together, sharing ideas, hearing each other, spending time together, and having each other's backs. Don't expect to be ships passing in the night, leading parallel lives, and then make everything ok by jumping in the sack. You want to think of creating lives of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy along with physical intimacy (the icing on the cake).
6. Have an affair. Well, affairs are actually extremely hard on a marriage and create a break in trust that is challenging to repair. However, an affair doesn't have to automatically lead to a divorce. In fact, an affair can be a wake-up call to the relationship that leads you on a path to greater understanding, intense connection, renewed trust, and deeper authenticity. If both partners are willing to analyze the relationship and their own part in the break-down of trust, then they truly can have a turning point and a new beginning.
All 6 of these tips are odd-but-true ways to creatively pursue the relationship of your dreams. Use them to divorce-proof your marriage and highlight your rich commitment to each other.
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