People say marriage is hard. I won’t pretend otherwise. Just think for a moment about the word, “marriage”; it literally means a mixture of two lives. That’s more than just a commitment, it’s an ongoing love battle! Even though I love being married, I can’t deny that co-existing with a partner, day-in and day-out, really tests your limits as giver, negotiator and companion.
At times, you’ve probably questioned your sanity. Or other times, you've had those weird discovery moments when you notice a new habit from your spouse and think, “who did I marry, ha?” Whether it’s about big problems like communication or smaller ones like getting angry at an empty milk carton, marriage is a love battle. To keep things happy and healthy, here are 7 marriage survival tips I can’t live without.
1. Kiss often
Kissing is underrated. Usually, it’s just something we do quickly, like a peck before leaving for work, or some smooching that leads to the other stuff (you know…). In any case, kissing should be more frequent in your marriage. It's an extremely powerful glue that holds passion in relationships.
According to Psychology Today, “Kissing increases blood levels of the hormone oxytocin, which mediates interpersonal attachment.” As a result, kissing actually helps connect you on a more intimate level. So how often do you kiss? Do it more!
2. Create special rituals
We all know it’s important to make time for your spouse, but what about making traditions? Maybe every Monday, you two can cook together or on the last weekend of every month, you can do a road trip. Andrew and I will spend an afternoon making a couples YouTube video. Our videos focus on activities that bring out our similarities, but most importantly, we have a blast!
Bring some new special rituals into your marriage to strengthen your friendship with your spoouse.
3. Match your sleep schedules
When you both sleep at different times, you can feel disconnected. Just because you're living together, doesn’t mean you’re bonding together (that’s the difference between roommates and married people).
Bedtime is an important time to unify your schedules because it’s a moment for cuddling, communicating and closeness. In fact, research shows that couples with mismatched sleeping schedules spend more time fighting. That's why Doctor Erin Leyba advises couples to match their bedtimes for a healthier marriage. As she explains, "going to sleep together creates a feeling of togetherness, which puts couples in a better mood the next morning. It can also inspire feelings of love, happiness, comfort, satisfaction, bonding, and feeling appreciated."
So whenever you can, before bed, put down the iPad or Kindle and hold your spouse instead!
4. Choose your battles
We’ve all got our sore spots. For example, I hate when the laundry piles up-- like seriously hate! But I also know that in the bigger picture, there could be far more upsetting things. So although we often disagree on issues like cleanliness and chores, I also need to accept that I didn't marry my twin.
Don’t try to change all their tiny habits. You’ll just drive yourself insane and honestly, it's counter-productive to marriage. The idea is to unify your lives, not match them! Besides, you probably have your annoying quirks too! So compromise really is the trick.
Let go of your hang-ups to keep the peace, so that when a real issues arise, you have the sanity left to tackle them together.
5. Communicate calmly
Behind every healthy marriage is a couple that communicates. First rule is no yelling. If you’ve got a temper, work on expressing your feelings without sounding angry or rude. Otherwise, you're just attacking, not discussing. According to freshlymarried.com, yelling puts your spouse into panic mode, forcing them to defend themselves instead of actually listening to your feelings.
So when you’ve got a complaint, express it without attacking. Speak gently and slowly, while trying to sound positive because the end-goal is finding a solution. If you do all these things and they’re still arguing back, calmly redirect their energy by saying something like, “this is not an argument. I’m just expressing how I feel so we can fix it.”
Second rule is don't be passive aggressive. If you use the silent treatment, indirect punishment or sarcasm as a way to hint that you’re upset, you’re only adding more confusion and frustration to the mix. It’s also helpful to start your sentences with “I feel” instead of “you”. Consider the difference between saying, “I feel grossed out when you pick your nose” and “you’re gross!”. Although these are just silly examples, you can see how your complaint sounds a lot less offensive when it comes from your feelings instead of a personal attack on them.
6. Forget gender roles
Who cares about who cooks or makes more money? These days, gender roles in marriage are disappearing more than ever. In my marriage, duties like cooking and cleaning are equally shared between us both -- well, almost.
If both partners aren’t pulling their weight, they need to work on being more selfless with their time. Everyone, man or woman, enjoys coming back to a clean home and dinner in the oven. Both of you equally deserve these comforts.
The days of the man being the breadwinner are gone. Both partners can strive to reach their best potential to be successful -- and better yet, both of you can help each other get there.
7. Be spontaneous
Too much routine gets stale. So the final marriage survival tip is being spontaneous. Exciting and random, these surprises rekindle those feelings of newness and passion. You'll both forget about the blahs of bills and work, and instead, just lose yourselves in a fun moment. It could be a crazy evening at a salsa bar, a drive-in movie or an unexpected gift.
These spontaneous moments are important when you're committing forever. It helps ease any negative energy and lets you both savor the real reasons you fell in love.
I live by these marriage survival tips because they remind me about what matters. Health and happiness are what matters most. In order to nurture these priorities, you need to work at them.