Today I’m going to be sharing with you some great advice from parenting and relationship gurus Ian and Mary Grant, co-authors of Growing Great Marriages.
We are going to be focusing in particular on how to re-gain a sense of ‘we-ness’ in your marriage when you and your spouse have started to feel isolated from one another.
Because marriage means building a life together, not having two separate lives running in parallel.
It’s great for you and your spouse to each have some outside interests, but the reality is that if you aren’t spending a decent amount of quality time with each other every possible day, you will start to feel like two strangers living under the same roof.
To prevent this from happening, Ian and Mary advise making the following vows with your spouse:
1. We will always let each other know if we are going to be home late.
This first vow is all about building trust and a clear line of communication with your spouse.
Letting each other know when you’re going to be home late and why avoids this situation from happening:
Laura gets home from work and begins cooking dinner for herself and John.
Dinner is all ready for 6.30pm, the time John usually arrives home from work. Laura puts the plates in the oven and switches on the TV as she waits for John to get home.
7pm rolls around and Laura checks her phone – still no messages from John. She decides to send him a text to ask him when he will be home. No reply.
By the time John finally walks in the door at 8pm, Laura is short-tempered, hungry and irritated. She demands to know where John has been and why he didn’t tell her he’d be late.
John, who has had a long day, reacts to Laura’s temper with his own anger and fires something hurtful back at her. Dinner is ruined.
To avoid this situation from happening, all you and your spouse need to do it to COMMUNICATE to each other when you can be expected home, especially when plans change and you know you are going to be home later than expected.
So that rather than the spouse at home feeling stressed and rejected, they feel valued and respected because their spouse has let them know that they will be home later than anticipated on that day.
Being honest with each other about your whereabouts and when you are going to be home will help you to make plans with each other and build trust and closeness between you.
2. We will never go to bed angry.
The second vow is all about setting boundaries for healthy communication and conflict.
Going to bed feeling angry with one another is not healthy for your relationship as it allows negative feelings to fester.
Instead, agree to talk out your problem BEFORE bedtime, to the point where you each have either come up with a temporary solution or an agreement to make peace and come back to the discussion again the next day.
Make sure that both of you have had the chance to get out what you need to say and express your feelings before you go to bed.
3. We will never use sex to bargain with one another.
Sex is something special which should be enjoyed and cherished in your relationship. It is the physical representation of your love.
When it is deliberately withheld in order to prove a point or force the other person into agreement, this can be extremely hurtful for the person being rejected.
They is likely to cause them to feel emotions such as anger, rejection, sadness, resentment and loneliness.
Using sex as a way to negotiate or ‘punish’ one another will only make your marital problems worse - and take all of the fun, passion and intimacy away from sex.
Instead of denying each other sex when either of you has ‘done something wrong’, agree to address the real problem and talk it out.
4. We will always consult one another before making important decisions.
This is one of the most fundamental elements of being part of a marital team.
As mentioned previously, being married means that you are building a life together – meaning that you need to make your life decisions TOGETHER.
So make an agreement with your spouse that whenever each of you is faced with a major decision which affects both of you, you will consult one another before coming to a joint decision.
5. We will always show each other respect in public.
Showing your partner respect is also a critical element to a healthy marriage.
This means to never criticize your spouse in public and to avoid badmouthing your spouse to your friends or family.
If there is something you disagree on with your spouse, you can bring it up with them later when you are at home.
When around others, back each other up and be a team. Your spouse should be the one person in the world you can count on to always take your side.
6. We will have mealtimes together as often as possible.
Do you and your spouse make an effort to eat breakfast and dinner together?
Having shared mealtimes is one of the major factors which helps to maintain closeness in marital and family relationships.
Why? Because mealtimes give you and your spouse an opportunity to talk and share what has been going on in each other’s lives.
Cooking for one another is also a way of showing caring and kindness.
We all need to eat every day, and the whole experience can be made a lot more enjoyable when we have someone we love to share it with.
Remember, if your spouse is not on board right now and is not willing to discuss your marital problems and make these vows with you, you can still make positive changes yourself.
If you start following these 6 steps as much as possible in your marriage, your spouse may eventually follow suit.
Sometimes all it takes is your spouse seeing evidence that you truly want to do whatever it takes to save your marriage.