If only the institution of marriage came with a “How To” instructional manual, perhaps the task of surviving a relationship would not be met with the same enthusiasm of natural childbirth. Yes, we all have a story to tell of how wonderful life was when we first fell in love and married our mate. Unfortunately, given our nation’s divorce rate, about half of us also have stories about how we fell out of love. No matter what the cause of the relationship discourse, an extra-marital affair, loss of a job, chemical dependency or financial hardship, couples often call it quits. Some couples stick with the marriage even if love is no longer part of the equation. While falling in love is easy, staying in love requires work and knowing “how to” go about it.
There are five specific tasks couples can perform to “raise their marriage” and restore the blissfulness experienced during the honeymoon stage of courtship.
Task 1: Make Raising Your Marriage a Priority—Quiz yourself. Are you spending enough time and using your energy to focus on the connection with your mate? Are you working seven days a week? Spending free time with your friends or at the gym? Ask yourself how much of that time you could and should spend with your mate. Relationships don’t work without time investment. Set aside some time each week for date night. Indulge in your partner and demonstrate your willingness to prioritize your marriage.
Task 3: Raise Your Level of Intimacy—Commit to fostering emotional intimacy. Seek intimacy beyond making “googly eyes,” having fleeting moments of wild passion and taking long walks through the park. Couples who maintain physical contact throughout the day report feeling more emotionally connected. A simple hug around the waist, a soft kiss on the neck or a gentle touch of the hand are all small gestures that send a message to your mate that the two of you are emotionally present.
Task 4: Raise Awareness of Your Marriage’s Vision—Create a vision with your partner for your union. The manifestation of achieved goals generally creates a sense of successful management of responsibility and accountability within the relationship. Collectively and individually develop both short- and long-term goals. Your short-term goals can be fun and creative. Pack your partner’s lunch all week, offer to make dinner or give a foot rub after a long day. Simple actions such as these demonstrate your support for the person with whom you have built a vision.
Task 5: Raise Your Level of Consciousness—Avoid becoming trapped in a cycle where you continuously try to change your mate. Contrary to popular belief, if you change your mind, you can change your marriage. Generally assume goodwill about your mate’s behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Recognize that your feelings will fluctuate daily. While the persistent trials of marriage expose us to revolving crises, which alter our attitudes and response process, if you make an effort to make changes you would like to see, then your mate will respond accordingly.
It does not take hard work to keep your relationship happy and healthy…it just takes work. The grass is not always greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it. Commit to “raising your marriage.”