7 Daily Habits that Strengthen Your Marriage
We are told time and time again that marriage takes ‘work’. But the ‘work’ we talk about with your marriage is more the little things--gestures you can do each day to have a stronger marriage and a closer connection to your spouse. Add any (or all) for these to your routine to bring a whole new level of happiness and closeness.
The true building blocks of a marriage are small and, frankly, nowhere as grand as a wedding. Mundane as they are, these moments can collectively act as invisible threads that strongly bind spouses to each other.
Author and award-winning psychologist John Gottman maintains the same. He has been doing research on marital stability for over 40 years, and has published some of his insights in his book The Relationship Cure.
In it, Gottman asserts one surprisingly straightforward fact: what counts in a marriage is performing the “small things often.” These mindful moments, says Gottman, are more effective than big gestures in establishing a solid emotional connection between spouses.
At first, it may not seem so. After all, how can greeting your partner a simple, “Good morning,” every day be more important to your marriage than an extravagant wedding anniversary celebration?
Each gesture holds weight, that is true; but they have different roles to fulfill. The daily habits of expressing your love and commitment provide meaning to the less frequent over-the-top gestures. Conversely, the big romantic offerings help you appreciate the small ones given every day.
Take, for example, the following. These may seem like inconsequential gestures. However, if you do them daily and sincerely, they become instinctive, and can support the base of your marriage as strongly as brick and mortar hold a house together.
Say, “Good morning,” when you wake up.
Or, “Hi, gorgeous,” if you prefer. The point is to acknowledge your spouse when you begin your day. It helps each of you feel seen and appreciated. Do it even if you get up at different times. A quick (but sincere) “Hi, love” text or even a Post-It note that says the same on the bathroom mirror tells your spouse that you value them.
Do something for—or with—your spouse before you begin your day’s tasks.
Make them coffee when you make yours, for example. Or set out a glass of fruit juice for them. Over breakfast, tell them about your plans for the day. Wash their coffee cup for them after breakfast. Peck them on the cheek as you get up from the table. No gesture is too small.
Thank them for something they did.
Did your spouse put down the toilet seat after he was done in the bathroom? Let them know it’s a big deal and you appreciate it. Did she clean out her hair in the shower? Thank her for remembering to do it.
There’s a reason why “thank you” is one of the magic words children are taught. Saying it, and hearing it, can turn a dismal day into a bright one. In fact, verbalized gratitude has been found to boost happiness levels in any relationship.
Send messages throughout the day.
When you take your work breaks during the day, take a few minutes to message your spouse. It can be ordinary messages—“Hey hon, ordering out for dinner. What would you like to eat?”—or romantic ones—“Can’t wait to see you tonight.” Both kinds of messages can achieve the same thing: they let your spouse know that they are on your mind.
Share an inside joke.
Few things bind people together more effectively than inside jokes. That’s why it’s important for spouses to have at least one thing that makes them laugh, and that bewilders others. It will feel like there’s a club and you two are the only members. (In fact, in your marriage, there is.)
Humor in a relationship does a lot of good. In a marriage, a shared joke confirms that you are friends—best friends, most likely. The more laughter you share, the stronger your married life can be.
Give a compliment.
This is not just an exercise to ensure the longevity of your marriage. Thinking of sincere compliments to give your spouse forces you to look at them in a new light. This is vital, especially if you’ve been married for over a decade.
Seeing and talking to someone every day for 10 years or more does have a tendency to be repetitive. But if you commit to finding new things to compliment them for, you open your eyes to aspects of their personality you may have forgotten about. So compliment your spouse daily, and discover them all over again.
Say, “Goodnight” before sleeping.
As you begin your day with each other, end it the same way. Reconnecting right before you go to sleep tells your spouse that they matter to you. It shows them that regardless of how the day was for each of you, you always go back to what matters, which is each other.
The work you need to put in to keep your marriage strong doesn’t have to be ostentatious. Although it’s also good to go all-out on a date once in a while, it’s the daily gestures that ultimately matter. They tell your spouse that you see them, they are important to you, and that you love them. There can be no stronger foundation for a marriage than these heartfelt affirmations.
We’ve got more good tips in our parenTeam RealTalks YouTube series. Whether it’s Nico Bolzico telling Solenn Heusaff why he loves her “in different levels” ten years after getting together; or listening to Sex and Relationships Therapist Rica Cruz, RPsy explain the ins and outs of “Romance in the New Normal”, you can learn more about your relationship thanks to our videos’ useful expert perspectives!
About The Writer
Cecile is a freelance writer and editor who's been working professionally in the publishing industry for more than two decades.
When she’s not busy raising and homeschooling two kids, she writes (and edits) lifestyle stories, profiles of celebrities and politicians, and travel pieces. She’s served as contributor and editor for a wide range of outlets, including Edamama; SciDev.Net; GetCraft; Manila Bulletin; Panorama; FHM Philippines; Seventeen Magazine; ABS-CBN Foundation’s Green Initiative; and Everything Alternative Australia.
Cecile graduated with a degree in AB Interdisciplinary Studies from Ateneo de Manila University, with tracks in Communication Arts, Languages, and Theater. When she’s not mothering, writing, or homeschooling, Cecile likes to upcycle old furniture and grow vegetables.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.