Our marriage has gotten stale. It’s not that we don’t love each other, but with the kids and everything else there seems to never be any time for my husband and me. I’m sure we’re not the only ones but we need some real help. What can we do and how can we go about making time for our marriage. Everyone says “just make time” but that never seems to work.
Every marriage needs a plan, a focusing tool to make sure the marriage is getting the attention it needs and deserves in the midst of the most hectic lifestyles. Following, is a simple plan to ensure that you and your spouse consistently place daily loving energy into your marriage.
This “connection plan” will help you and your spouse feel closer, warmer and more connected.
Connection Plan #1: Have Five Touch Points a Day. Touch your spouse lovingly at least five times a day. Kissing, hugging and hand-holding are all healthy touch points. (If your spouse kisses you and you “kiss back,” or calls you to say, “I love you” and you say “I love you too,” that is not considered one of your touch points. Your touch point must be a gesture you originated.) Try to make each touch point meaningful. Instead of a peck on the cheek, give a gentle kiss on the lips. Give a real-bear hug-hug, and count in your head for six seconds, that says, “I love every inch of you.” Let yourself feel as though you are melting into each other.
Touch points also include any caring activity: bringing your spouse a drink, writing a loving note, making a phone call just to say “I love you,” cooking a favorite meal, getting a favorite magazine, taking a phone call on your spouse’s behalf that your spouse wishes to avoid, or sending a greeting card or note of thanks, a flower or a balloon. Don’t let a day go by without thinking, “What simple thing could I do for my spouse that would put a smile on his or her face?” Then do it. Let your spouse know that he or she is in your thoughts and heart every day.
Leave a Love Note: As one of your touch points, consider leaving this note below as a quick message of loving thoughts. Place it on the fridge, in your spouse’s briefcase or drawer, or anyplace where your spouse will happen upon it.
Just because… • I love you. • Thank you for…. • I am looking forward to….
I can’t wait to… • Hold you. • Kiss you. • Talk to you. • Take a private walk with you. • Run a bath for you. • Give you a five-minute massage. • Make a romantic dinner for you.
Connection Plan #2: Have Four Talk Points a Week. The average couple talks only four minutes per day. It’s no wonder spouses don’t feel close and loved. Four days a week (at any point in the day or night), plan at least 45 minutes when you can be alone together and do something you both enjoy. And no, sleeping does not count. This could be a walk or other form of exercise, watching a video, reading to each other, dancing in your home, playing a board game or cards, cooking, having a cocktail, massaging each other, shopping (only if it’s fun for both of you), or anything else that will take you away from the stresses of life and into each other’s arms.
These activities add spice to life and lead to great relationship-building conversations about politics, community issues, interesting thoughts you’ve had after reading a book or seeing a movie, some deeper thoughts about your past, dreams, spiritual thoughts and how to help your kids grow. These aren’t the times to talk about problems with the kids, financial woes, work headaches, and so on. The purpose of the talk points is to increase your easygoing time together. Talking about the lighter things reminds you that the person you are married to can be the person with whom you enjoy life.
(To be continued)
RABBI NEUMAN is a Florida licensed psychotherapist and author of two books, Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way (Random House) and Emotional Infidelity, How to Affair-proof Your Marriage and Other Secrets to a Great Relationship (Crown). He and his work have been featured many times on The Oprah Show, Today, The View and in People, Time and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and five children in Miami Beach, Florida. For more information on his work, visit www.mgaryneuman.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.