If there is one thing that can use simplifying, it is marriage. The time and effort it takes to maintain a healthy and deeply connected relationship can be overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. Research actually indicates that it is the small and consistent actions in a marriage that builds the relationship over time. I am hacking marriage to give simple and actionable behaviors that anyone can do to improve the quality of their relationship. Below are three marriage complaints I hear from couples all the time. I have given marriage hacks to bypass the pain points of each complaint to quickly and easily sidestep marital discomfort. For more information on Laura Heck, visit www.laurahecktherapy.com where she meets with couples online.
#1 Not Enough Time Together
- Shower Together - Use the 15 minutes of privacy in the shower you have to connect with your partner. If you are showering in the morning, ask your partner to share one thing that they anticipate about their day. Remember to close the loop when they return home later that day and ask how it went. If you are showing in the evening, share one high and one low that happened that day.
- Meet for Lunch - Schedule a weekly lunch date to meet up. Shift your priorities to protect 60 minutes to meet with your partner. If the commute eats into your lunch time, consider brown bagging at your desk and video chatting your partner instead.
- Take Notes - Pretend like you are an objective reporter jotting down important notes to recount at a later date. When your partner has finished speaking, read back what you understood them say just to make sure you were accurate.
- Say What You Want - Not What You Don't Want. It is easy to get in a habit of complaining about the negatives. Shift your complaint so that you are asking for a positive instead. Here's an example: "You haven't cooked dinner for the family in weeks." INSTEAD "Honey, I would appreciate it if you cooked dinner this week."
#3 Feeling Taken for Granted and Unappreciated
- Sticky Note Appreciations - Place a sticky note pad next to your toothbrush. When you brush your teeth, write down one specific example of what you are grateful for and stick it to your partner's side of the sink.
- Cell Phone Alarm Text Messages- Put an alarm on your phone to alert you to send a loving text message to your partner every day. Drop everything when you alarm goes off to ensure you follow through.