Sometimes when we’ve been married for a few years, we begin to assume that we fully know our spouse. Our relationship can slip into a routine that has a certain amount of comfort and security in it, but which also can feel somewhat bland and uninteresting. If these statements describe your marriage, then it may be time for some reconnecting measures that strengthen the bond between the two of you. Please try out the activities below.
Activity 1: Spend time thinking about and sharing stories about what you loved about your courtship days. Identify one activity that you did then, but have stopped doing since the wedding, and begin doing it again. After doing this activity, share your feelings about the experience with one another. What else do you wish to do?
Activity 2: Marriage researcher John Gottman recommends doing “couple maps,” where each spouse on their own draws or writes down what they think they know about their spouse (Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work). Consider aspects such as:
• Everyday life
• Wounds in the middle of healing
• Upcoming events
• Who he/she is striving to be
• Best friends
• Current fears, stresses, and worries
• Life dreams
• Religious beliefs and ideas
• Basic philosophy of life
• Favorite music, movies, TV shows...
• Most special times in life
• Childhood trauma/stress
• Major aspirations and hopes
• Would do with a major sum of money
Share the maps with one another and fill in or correct the details. Were there surprises? Do you know each other better from this activity?
Activity 3: Tune up or build new marriage skills by going through a marriage preparation book. You can read portions to one another, discuss the content, do the activities, and generally be in learning mode. This activity can have you recreate the excitement of your courting days as well as rejuvenate your marriage in the present. A new book, All-in-One Marriage Prep: 75 Experts Share Tips and Wisdom to Help You Get Ready Now (www.allinonemarriageprep.com), is a good tool to help with this process.
Becoming complacent about the state of your marriage can be very unwise. Be vigilant and an advocate for the health and well-being of your relationship. As you pay attention to the quality of your bond, you will keep your marriage strong and both of you happy.