Many couples want to know the secret to making love last.
Research indicates long-term strength in a relationship and connection is maintained through moments of intentional friendship woven throughout the course of your relationship. Below are six simple ways to strengthen the friendship in your marriage.
1) Use small moments to show your partner they matter.
Think about the honeymoon phase of your relationship. You were willing to do anything for your partner. If they said they liked football, you got tickets to see their favorite team play. If you said you liked chocolate, they made sure to always buy your favorite. As the years pass, it becomes easy to forget to focus on the “little things”, the small kindnesses that had you both feeling loved and cherished. Couples in long-term relationships must learn to make the seemingly small and mundane moments actually pivotal moments that show your partner you are in tune with their world.
“Are we out of milk? I forgot to check when I was in the kitchen earlier.” Partner shrugs and doesn’t look up from the book they are reading.
Partner puts the magazine down and responds: “Hmm, I have no idea. But I’ll check on my way out and stop into the store on my way back from the gym later and get some!”
The difference is that you intentionally take the time to tune in, actively listen to, and respond to your partner in a way that leaves them acknowledged and cared about.
2) Express genuine interest in your partner.
Do you and your partner do fun things together during your free time? You don’t have to have the same interests as your partner, but you can absolutely enjoy time spent together by engaging in one of their (or your) interests.
Be willing to open yourself up to doing things you may not otherwise do on your own, for the sake of your relationship. What you will find is that these activities actually become enjoyable. The goal is not to force yourself to like things you don’t enjoy doing, but to look for moments to enjoy with your partner while you are engaged in the things they enjoy with them.
3) Use “Mundane” Tasks as a Way to Stay Connected
According to research, there is actual legitimacy to the idea that “romance starts in the kitchen”. Couples that share in care tasks such as cleaning, yard work, or laundry tend to have stronger relationships. Daily experiences like doing the dishes, folding laundry, watching TV, or cooking together can be opportunities for a deeper connection to occur. These can be moments to share about your day, talk about your goals, or simply to check in on how each other is feeling.
4) Make your friendship unconditional.
When you think of your closest friends, you probably know that there are few things (if any) that could dissolve the bond between you. There is an acceptance of your differences, an understanding that you may disagree on certain issues but love each other nonetheless.
Simply bringing this mentality into your marriage will do wonders for your connection. Recognizing that you will have differences in opinion and ways of addressing certain issues that come up throughout your life can allow you to see your partner in a different way.
Work stress, issues with the kids, issues with other family members, and so many other things can overflow into your marriage. There should be no conditions when it comes to showing up for your partner. Treat your partner with the same understanding and unconditional support as you would hope to receive from them. Think about whether or not you are treating your partner with as much kindness as respect as you do other people in your life, such as co-workers or friends.
5) Be on your partner’s team.
This goes beyond being able to accept your differences. You should do what you can to build your partner up. They should never be the butt of your jokes nor should you speak ill of them in front of anyone. Embarrassment and humiliation are not ways to keep a relationship strong.
6) Be polite
Living with someone day in and day out can make it easy to forget to say things like “please” and “thank you” to them. Over time, it can be easy to forget to appreciate what they do to be helpful or to compliment them every once in awhile. Again, think about the way you talked to your partner when you were early in the relationship. Those little kindnesses matter, and can help keep your relationship strong.
As with any friendship, your marital friendship is a bond that must be nurtured and prioritized. Creating meaningful experiences, showing genuine interest in one another, prioritizing romance, and being on the same team are all simple, daily actions that you can make right now to strengthen your marriage. Cultivating these will become a lifeline for your relationship and, later down the road, could potentially save your marriage from otherwise drifting apart.
How strong is the friendship in your relationship? To talk to a professional about strengthening your connection as a couple, contact Safe & Sound Counseling, LLC.
I have over 15 years of experience of working with individuals and families, first in child welfare, and then in mental health counseling. I have a Ph. D in Counseling, and am an Interfaith Minister. I work with clients desiring to include all of the aspects of the self in therapy-emotional and spiritual.