Great marriages take a lot of TLC. But so does life leaving little time to read long self-help books, fill out workbooks and complete complex exercises dedicated to the cause of maintaining a successful marriage. Here’s the thing: instead of trying to tear apart and rebuild your whole engine which might seem overwhelming and may be unnecessary altogether, try giving your marriage a simple daily tune-up instead. Whether you are a newlywed rookie or a decades-in vet, every couple’s marriage can benefit from these simple tune-up techniques, each taking just five minutes of less.
1. Speak to your husband like he is someone that you love. This is the man that you married, not some jerk who cut you off on the freeway, so be mindful of your tone and speak to him like you want to be spoken to – with respect, kindness and understanding. When frustration bubbles over, take a time out until you can find a worthy voice.
2. Lip-lock like lovers do. When you reconnect in the evening with your husband, take a few minutes to have a passionate kiss. No matter how hectic things are, spare five minutes to engage in a meaningful smooch – this will set the tone for your evening.
3. When the going gets tough, re-read your vows. Marriage is filled with ups and downs and when the downs seem to outweigh the ups, the sparkle in your ring starts to fade and you begin to forget why you said “I do” in the first place, that is the time to pull out your vows and re-read them to each other. In moments you will be transported to the day that you committed yourselves to one another, remembering why, which will give you the booster shot you need to get over your current hump.
4. Out with “I”, in with “We”, “Us” and “Our”. Reprogramming yourself to stop using the word “I” and start using united words will have a profoundly positive impact on your marriage. In fact a study of 154 couples showed that this simple transformation had remarkable impact whereby couples behaved more positively towards one another and showed less psychological stress. Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you lose your individuality. It just means that you will be operating in team terms - recognizing that you have a healthy dependency and support each other. Using these words will help you achieve the art of togetherness.
5. Be appreciative. A simple thank you goes a long way and encourages your partner to continue looking out for your needs. After all, no one likes to be taken for granted. Be thankful for the small things (i.e. when he finally lands his dirty socks in the laundry basket) and the big things (i.e. taking over all of your usual duties for a week when you have some serious work deadlines). When giving thanks focus your gratitude on him instead of the task – “Thanks for being such a lifesaver, honey. Cooking dinner tonight really helped me out and it was so yummy!” vs. “Thanks for cleaning the toilet.”
6. Tease each other. Remember when you were blissful newlyweds – before the kids, the mortgage, the lack of sleep and fun was integrated regularly into your relationship? Well to keep your marriage alive and kicking, you need regular injections of silly. Joking around, poking fun, teasing – even during arguments is perfectly healthy and research indicates strengthens unions.
7. Pop the champagne. Sure you are there for each other when times are hard, but what about when good things happen? It is equally important to celebrate the successes of each other and your marriage. Always have a bottle of champagne in the fridge waiting to be uncorked and don’t be shy to celebrate even the smallest occasions. You are supposed to be each other’s biggest fans so don’t forget to congratulate each other regularly on being awesome!
8. Morning cuddle time. The very best way to start your day is with a morning cuddle session. Set your alarm five minutes early and bring in the day together. Either in silence, simply snuggling as you watch the sun come up or chatting about what you love about your life together. No matter what, daily logistics (kids schedules, meetings stresses, etc) should be off limits.
9. He’s on your mind, so let him know! Chances are you think about your husband all throughout the day and believe it or not, no matter how macho he is, he actually wants to know about it. Men love little random acts of kindness that let him know you are thinking of him. Sending surprise text messages (naughty or not), picking him up a shirt he’d look good in or a favorite food at the grocery store, popping a love note in his suitcase before a business trip, all show him you care.
10. Love your own life. The happier you are with yourself, the happier you will be in your marriage. Be sure to maintain a life that is rich and fulfilling so daily you feel enriched from within. Positivity flowing within you will project outward, inherently strengthening your marriage.