Emotional affairs, physical affairs, dead marriages, divorce: has this caught your attention? If you’re in a marriage that’s going okay so far, but you want to avoid the above disasters and bad karma, build some intimacy in the relationship. Even if you’ve been married for thirty years, there’s more room to give more and receive more with your partner. That’s part of the gift of being human.
1. Create one-on-one time together
You can’t connect with another person, whether it’s a spouse, parent, child, or long lost friend, without making time and space for the connection. To increase the intimacy in a committed pair relationship, you have to spend time together one-on-one, and not just grocery shopping/childcare/sitting on the couch watching TV together. None of those activities put any emphasis on the relationship or either person’s needs and some are inherently stressful.
Setting a weekly or biweekly date night works for a lot of couples. If you’re tight on cash, take a walk together or have a quiet dinner at home and unplug the electronics. One-on-one time will be more rewarding for both of you if you turn off your phones and other distractions.
2. Have regular check-ins and talk about your relationship
There is such a thing as a “surprise divorce,” and not communicating with your spouse for months on end is one way it can happen. When two people are together but not very interested in each other anymore (and possibly frustrated with other areas of their lives), it doesn’t take long for the relationship to either implode or turn into a comatose, co-dependent situation.
To avoid this, have regular check-ins with your spouse where you both talk about the marriage and about how you’re doing as individuals. While you might have specific concerns (or even grievances) in mind before you sit down together, put these aside and enter into a give and take discussion with an open heart. Healthy, bond-strengthening communication can’t happen when either party is seething with anger, soaked in depression, or only half-listening.
3. Plan special surprises for each other
Humans strengthen relationships with each through generosity and compassion. It can seem easy to forget this when you’re in a long-term relationship and some of level of intimacy and understanding has already been created. But to keep building intimacy and new energy in the relationship, you have to be more generous with your partner over time (and, in a strong pair, it goes both ways). Plan special surprises for each other, unconnected to any calendar event or ulterior motive. Ninja gift giving (strategically leaving a present in a secret place) is a fun couples’ activity, showing up at their office with movie tickets for later on is another good idea.
4. Regularly share appreciations and gratitude
Being together with one person in a long-term relationship can feel frightening, confining and exhausting—unless you give and receive gratitude. Make a practice of waking up and sitting quietly for a few minutes before you begin your day. Just notice where you are and what comforts are around you, and think about what you are grateful for. After a few minutes of quiet reflection like this, it may be easier to show appreciation for your partner. Thank them for making coffee, going to work, or putting fuel in the car. Thank them for choosing you out of all the people they know and could be with instead.
5. Plan exciting adventures together
This means something different for every couple, but you know what your thrill threshold is. Some couples tour RV show lots to have a quickie in a $100,000 motorhome; others like to go out for ice cream. Adventures, in whatever flavour you both like, are chances to bring creative forces into your relationship, through a simple commitment to being open to the present moment.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.