Every married couple has their little habits. Maybe it's eating cereal together in front of the late TV news. Or reading the paper on the front porch on Saturday mornings. Or ordering Chinese food every New Year's Eve.
Every day, every week, every month, and every year, we cut long-lasting grooves or habits into our relationship—mostly without thinking. Yet in the daily grind, few couples realize that, with a little thought and intention, they could consciously cultivate a set of specific habits that will work wonders.
Try to turn these 8 practices into marriage building habits.
Once a Day . . .
Take time to touch (if only for a minute)
Think of some of the most romantic moments you've shared in your marriage. Chances are those moments involved a tender touch—holding a hand, a gentle caress on a cheek, an arm around a shoulder. That touch sealed the moment in your memory.
Touch is a way of writing in our collective diary to recall the moments we treasure. It's also critical to building romance and intimacy in marriage—and we don't just mean sex. We're talking about a tender touch while your partner is doing an ordinary task. A gentle squeeze on your partner's shoulder as she's preparing a meal, or a soft rub on his back as he's reading a book can communicate loving messages in ways our words never can.
Don't lose touch (pardon the pun). It could be one of the most important things you do all day.
We laugh a lot together. The tiniest thing can set us off—a slight inflection or a knowing glance. We can quote a funny line from a movie or sitcom for weeks. Better still are the unplanned faux pas in front of others that bring embarrassment.
Laughter bonds people. It's like taking a vitamin for your marriage. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine." Jay Leno says, "You can't stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh." Bob Hope calls laughter an "instant vacation."
A few guidelines: Don't take yourself so seriously. Poke gentle fun at each other—but carefully. Steer clear of sensitive issues—weight, family, belief system. Laugh when you don't feel like laughing. And study your spouse's funny bone—find out what makes him or her laugh, and use that daily.
Once a Week . . .
Do something active you enjoy
One of the great gaps between husbands and wives is in their notions of emotional intimacy. To most women, intimacy means sharing secrets, talking over things, cuddling. But to men, intimacy means doing things together—gardening, hiking, going to a movie. The caricature of men in the wilderness, cold beer in hand, saying, "It doesn't get any better than this," is false. It's a lot better when a wife joins a husband in a shared activity they both enjoy.