So if you’re concerned about divorce and looking for real growth in your marriage, you’ll need to plant your emotional roots and ask yourselves the following questions:
1. Do I view building the relationship a central principle of my marriage?
2. Do I set aside time each day to nurture my relationship?
3. Do I look for the good qualities in my spouse?
4. Do I appreciate the small, kind acts my spouse does for me on a daily basis?
5. Do I spend time thinking about the good moments, and limit time and energy spent focusing on the bad ones?
Most couples that evaluate their progress find that the biggest hole in their marriage is the fact that they don’t spend time and effort building their relationship. They allowed themselves to become complacent. Complacency in marriage allows emotional weeds to grow out of control. It is catching and it spreads, silently and invisibly, and by the time you realize what is happening, much damage has been done.
It is so easy to fall into a daily routine, fueled by responsibilities, so that people forget what relationships are all about. With so much to do each day, and without the need to plan to tune into each other, relationships tend to be pushed to the back, treated as something that doesn’t need to be attended to, and left to just bumble along. Often we fail to make time for our spouses. Or when we do, it’s often merely consists of stolen moments at the end of a long, hard day, when we lack the energy to show how much we truly love and appreciate each other, and we are just too tired to have any fun.
When spouses begin to feel neglected, they often start by making a subtle plea — a gentle reminder that they feel they aren’t important any more, and that they feel unloved and undervalued.
Yet, all it takes is those small gestures — nothing fancy — just small and thoughtful little gestures that show love, respect and affection for each other. Such gestures are an indication that a husband or wife still appreciates their marriage, their relationship, and the life they have together.
If spouses want to save their marriage, or make a good marriage great, my advice to them is to make your relationship with your spouses your top priority. Let them see that they are valuable and precious, and that above all, they and their feelings come first. Compliments should be regular: not a thing of the past or just occasionally voiced, and not something that you believe is no longer required. Make sure your spouses know that you appreciate them, respect them, love them and admire then, and above all, make sure that they know that you want to be with them forever.
In Part 4, we’ll discuss: Investing In Your Relationship
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and the author of an upcoming book about marriage called First Aid For Jewish Marriages. He maintains a practice in family counseling and is a popular lecturer on S.H.A.L.O.M. Workshop for Engaged Couples. To register for the workshop, visit www.shalomworkshop.org. You can e-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.