1. Consider the following question: “How can I love you more this week?”
The wants and needs of a person can change on a regular basis. It’s critical to check in with your spouse to see what you can do to improve your love for them. It could be anything from child care to a back massage to more cuddling to simply checking in throughout the day. Not only does asking the question allow them to directly tell you how to be a better husband, but it also shows that you care.
2. Describe how you met.
When was the last time you and your partner discussed how you first met? Take a walk down memory lane with a conversation: Where did you meet? How did your first date go? Life can throw us some unexpected twists and turns. It’s sometimes necessary to remind yourself (and your partner) why you married each other in the first place. (For some ideas, here are some romantic conversation starters for couples.)
3. Use their love language to communicate with them.
You can save a lot of time by learning and speaking your spouse’s love language. There are five main love languages, according to marriage counselor Joshua Daniels: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts. Make sure to love your spouse the way they want to be loved rather than the way you want to be loved. While you may enjoy receiving gifts, your spouse may only want a hug!
4. Understand your spouse’s apologies.
Did you even know there was such a thing as an apology language? A person’s apology language, like their love language, is the specific way they prefer to receive apologies. This is critical when dealing with conflict resolution and can be the deciding factor in resolving a disagreement. If you’re not sure how your spouse feels about receiving apologies, start a conversation about it and see what they find meaningful.
5. Accept responsibility for what you have control over.
Your spouse isn’t to blame for anything! You’re sometimes the one who starts the trouble, or at the very least, you’re both contributing to it. It is critical that you accept responsibility for your actions. It’s the equivalent of saying you’re perfect and never make mistakes if you never take responsibility. That is untrue, as we all know. Make it a habit to admit when you’re wrong and say these three powerful words: “I’m sorry.”
6. Avoid making assumptions.
You may believe you know your spouse so well that you can predict how they will react in any given situation. However, assuming what your spouse is thinking can lead to conflict and stress because you aren’t giving them the space to tell you what’s really going on in their heads, and they may feel like it’s either your way or the highway. All you have to do is be curious to avoid making assumptions. Ask questions, get more information, and make sure you and your spouse are communicating effectively.
7. Forgive quickly and frequently.
I always say that marriage is two people learning to forgive one another. It will be a long road to healing and wholeness if you can’t forgive your partner for the little things they’ve done.
8. Seek to understand rather than agree.
When it comes to work schedules, personal goals, home responsibilities, finances, parenting, and so on, you and your spouse will not always agree. Instead of trying to “win” them over to your side of the argument, your goal should be to understand their point of view and why they believe what they believe. When you understand each other, you can better compromise and collaborate on solutions that are beneficial to both parties.
9. Give your spouse some alone time.
You are not required to be in your spouse’s presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Couples should spend time apart because it is good for them. Allowing your spouse to be away from you (and your children, if you have them) will recharge their batteries. Spending time with friends, booking a hotel room for a night alone, or scheduling a self-care day will all help to fill their cup. It also gives you and your partner time to miss each other, which can make you feel even more affectionate when you reunite.
10. Remove the burden.
We all require assistance from time to time. Whether or not your spouse expresses it verbally, it is your responsibility to pay close enough attention to your partner to know when to intervene. Doing the laundry, assisting the children with virtual school, preparing a meal, doing the dishes, or cleaning are all examples. Whatever the task, there should be shared responsibilities so that your partner does not feel overburdened. (For a complete guide on how to share housework fairly, click here.)
11. Concentrate on your own personal issues.
I can’t tell you how many couples I’ve worked with who believe they have “couple issues” when, in fact, it’s their own personal issues that are causing the problem. If you struggle with organization, listening, empathy, self-esteem, money, or cleanliness, those are individual areas for growth that you should work on on your own as soon as possible. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to seek professional assistance if necessary!
12. Take a break from technology!
Spend some quality time with your spouse without all of the emails, social media notifications, text messages, cellphones, laptops, and tablets that can divert your attention away from your partner. Make it a goal to spend at least 15 minutes per day without distractions.
13. Take the initiative.
Don’t wait for your spouse to ask you to do something—take the initiative! Every spouse has both strengths and weaknesses. Take the lead in the areas where you are skilled and comfortable. If you are good with money, take the lead in creating a budget and setting savings goals. Make it a habit to assist the kids with their homework on a nightly basis if you are good at it. Trust me, this will relieve a lot of stress and make things easier as you continue to integrate your lives.
14. Maintain your own health.
Not just your physical health, but also your mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational well-being. First and foremost, it’s attractive when someone strives to improve in all aspects of their life. However, your personal struggles in any area of your life can bleed into your marriage and cause additional problems. For example, if one partner suffers from depression but refuses to seek professional help, the situation will undoubtedly have an impact on the other partner, the relationship, and the entire family.
Small changes made over time, such as those listed below, can yield long-term results. Some of these may be things you’re already doing (which is fantastic! ), while others may be completely new to you. Whatever situation you find yourself in, I am confident that implementing and sticking to this set of small changes will improve your relationship. It’s similar to strengthening a muscle: the more you do it, the stronger you get.