With today’s busy schedules, it can feel a bit overwhelming to juggle work, family and community involvement. Finding time for your spouse can often get lost in the shuffle after completing all your other responsibilities. Whether you’re a newlywed or have been married 20 years, marriage still takes work. There are several activities that will help build a strong marriage and keep your relationship with your spouse vibrant and fulfilling.
Get Rid of Baggage
Sometimes you or your spouse may hang onto resentments, grudges or unfinished dreams and carry them into the marriage. However, there are good memories that you and your partner should keep. It may be a good idea for you and your spouse to each sit down for about 20 minutes and list the things in your marriage you should keep and those you should release. This should be done separately. When you’ve finished making the lists, get together and discuss them. When considering the positive and negative aspects of your marriage, keep in mind the intellectual, social, physical, spiritual and emotional components. The “Keep” list should include the positive things about yourself, your spouse and your marriage. In the “Toss” list, write down the aspects about yourself, your spouse and your marriage that you both would be better off without.
A good way to start a marriage is to make a list of the strengths you and your spouse each bring to the relationship. Often, couples don’t compliment each other enough and this exercise is a good way to remind your partner of your positive traits. Your spouse may be better than you at certain tasks while you may be the better fit for other tasks. Take five or 10 minutes with your spouse to discuss your strengths. When you’re finished, it will be your spouse’s turn to tell you about his strengths.
Rebuilding the “We”
Many times spouses don’t think about the effect certain activities will have on their marriage. To help you decide which activities are the most important, spend about 20 minutes by yourselves and write down the activities you each have planned for the coming week. Then write down next to each one whether the activity would build, erode or have no effect on your sense of togetherness. For example, if your spouse plays poker every Friday night with his friends, ask yourself whether that will have an impact on your marriage, and if so, whether that impact will be positive or negative. Make your lists separately, but then discuss each activity and its possible impact. If there are many activities negatively affecting your marriage, discuss the possibility of eliminating some of them.
Certain household chores can be shared or split up so one person doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Talk with your spouse about which household activities or chores you can do together to lighten the load. You can also discuss dividing the chores in a manner that seems fair for both of you. The chores don’t all need to be done together, but sharing them increases the sense of a team in your marriage.