Strengthening your marriage relationship does not have to be complicated or expensive. Throwing money at problems rarely brings the desired result. For instance, getting counseling just to say that you are “in counseling” is not going to save your marriage or solve any problems. You must do the work – not just when times are bad, but along the way to keep the relationship alive and moving forward in health.
The next few posts will consist of a few tips to keep your relationships going strong.
[TIP #3] Talk about more than the chores
Talking is important and required for communication to happen. (not rocket science, huh?) Just talking, however, is not necessarily equivalent to communicating.
Most couples think they are communicating when they are merely delegating responsibilities necessary to take care of their household.
Being cordial and polite to one another in conversation is a good idea and helpful to do, but it cannot be the only type of talking between the two of you. What you talk about is just, if not more, important than how you talk to one another. Couples who are the most content in their relationship spend time discussing their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. These couples are doing better because they are using verbal communication to learn one another more intimately.
Talking about “who you are” as individuals and “who you are” as a couple helps spouses understand themselves and their partners better. Through doing this, you can define your family’s purpose and mission in life – which brings a sense of “us” that may have been lacking. Another benefit of this type of communication is that it creates a “team” feeling in the couple as they face life together.
According to an article on the Gottman relationship blog entitled “Create Shared Meaning with a Culture Covenant”, writing a “culture covenant” (written list of values as a couple and family) is among the most effective ways to create shared meaning in a marriage. The authors, David and Constantino Khalaf, define family culture as “the unspoken rules and ways of interacting with each other that shape interpersonal dynamics.”
“All families and couples have a culture, whether or not it is intentionally crafted.” – David and Constantino Khalaf
Below is a sample of the covenant tents listed in the article:
- We value vulnerability. It’s okay to express the full range of emotions.
- We help each other laugh at least once a day. And we help each other cry—if it seems we’re bottling something up—as needed.
- We acknowledge that personal growth means change, and we never want to stop getting to know each other.
- We want to serve others. We pour into our relationship so that we have the energy to pour out.
- We yield to each other. No one gets the final say all the time.
Knowing what legacy you want to leave before you even have children will guarantee you pass on what you intend. But don’t worry… if you have children already, it is never too late to instill purpose in your marriage and in your children. If your children have already left the home, focus on your grandchildren or on how you can best help your kids succeed in life. Whatever the case may be for you, defining “who you are” as a couple and dreaming together will only bring you closer to the relational and emotional intimacy you are seeking.
Some of the ideas from this post came from this article: