Happy Home, Happy Marriage: 6 Ways to Feel Closer to Your Mate
Photo: Kevin Dooley / Creative Commons
Once you've got kids together and several years of marriage under your belt, it's easy to let the romance go out the window. After all, you've seen each other through sleepless nights, poo diapers, throw up and meltdowns.
It's time to bring sexy back. Or at least it's time to recapture some of that je ne sais qois that brought you two crazy kids together once upon a time.
1. Make Eye Contact Daily
Sometimes we let our busy schedules run ram shod over our real needs. Knock it off.
Make sure you carve out a little time to be together, connect and make eye contact each day, even if it's making flirty eyes in the bathroom mirror while you brush your teeth. The only rule is that you concentrate on that moment together and make it count.
If your other half is distracted or running around like a chicken with its head cut off, grab your mate by the face and lock eyes. Planting a smooch on those lips is optional but encouraged. Who doesn't love open-eye kissing? I kid. But try it anyway; you might like it.
2. Go on Dates Monthly
Find a way to be together on a romantic date on a monthly basis at minimum, whatever that looks like. Even if that means a romantic dinner at home after the kids are asleep. Date night (or date morning or date afternoon) is critical.
Make it a ritual or make it spontaneous; it doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be perfect. We don't live in a chick flick. Just make sure it happens.
3. Show Your Love
Kisses and hugs upon coming and going are easy ways to show your mate (and children and teenagers!) that they are loved and that their presence or absence matters to you.
Happy little surprises like notes and trinkets, a favorite food prepared, or a robe and slippers at the ready are fun ways to offer comfort and show appreciation.
No need to strip and wrap yourself in Saran Wrap before your mate arrives home from the office. I'm not going to discourage you (husbands) if you think that would work -- but my point is that small, frequent gestures will do the trick.
4. Perform Acts of Kindness
Embrace mundane household chores as acts of kindness that keep your home happy and running smoothly. This might sound ridiculous to you, but remember this: No one likes a martyr. And let's face it, being a martyr is an unpleasant role to undertake.
It's easy to get lost in scorekeeping, but when you focus on who took out the trash last or cleaned up the kitchen, your every day chores become bitter tasks that sour your mood and relationship. This can lead to shrillness, nagging and frigid grumpiness ... and that means less Saran Wrap moments, if you get my drift.
If you change your perspective and frame housekeeping as the act of kindness that it is, then it becomes easier, and I dare say, more fun. And then it also becomes easier to ask for help in a sweet (and more effective) way.
5. Share Your Feelings
Share your feelings of gratitude regularly with your mate. Does he or she bring home the bacon, literally or figuratively? How is your life better for having your mate? Tell him or her. Right now. I'll wait.
What do you want or need more of from your spouse? Rather than getting upset, kindly spell it out. You probably didn't marry a mind reader. If you're getting everything you need, then share that! Who wouldn't want to hear that?
We sometimes feel that sharing our needs will lead to a conflict, but then we bottle it up and eventually have a blow out ... or we peck our mate to death, slowly, with snarky comments and an irritable tone (see #6, Speak With Respect).
When we share our feelings nicely and ask for our needs to be met, it can serve as a way to "fight" fairly. We can negotiate the landscape of our emotions and needs up front in a far more peaceful discourse. You know what that means. Saran Wrap!
6. Speak With Respect
As our parents used to say to us, "Watch your tone." If you were ever going to follow that advice, now is the time.
For some reason, we can be rude, testy or impatient with our mates and our children. Yet we don't want to hear our children speak to us that way. We also don't want to hear our grown children interacting with their own spouses in a crappy way.
A good rule of thumb to follow is this: If it would make you cringe to hear your child speak to you that way, then don't speak to your mate that way. Show your mate the same consideration and respect that you want from your child. (See #5 Share Your Feelings if you need your mate to use a kinder tone with you.)
Your child is going to hear how you speak to the people you love. If you do so with impatience or irritation, then your child will see that as a blueprint for his or her own love and family life. Conversely, if you speak with respect, from a place of love, your child will know what love looks like.
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