Recently, my wife and I had some friends over to play board games. About half way through the game I realized that, while we were all having a good time, something was a little off.
Then it hit me – every single one of us had our phones in front of us! When it wasn’t our turn in the game, we were scanning Facebook, checking emails, and so forth. In other words, we weren’t really connecting with each other.
I called everyone on it and we put our phones away.
Just like a game night with friends, oftentimes our marriages get distracted as well. There are bills to pay, chores to do, meals to prepare, and more. Life is busy. But it shouldn’t get in the way of a great marriage.
Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~ Barnett R. Brickner
Being the right mate involves living mindfully. It means being conscious about what’s happening in your marriage and taking charge of your own marital happiness.
Here are 10 ways you can be more mindful in your marriage.
1. Plan to have time with your spouse.
This sounds like an obvious one I know but I’ve got to list it. It’s often said to go on a date once a week with your spouse. If you have kids, this is especially important. It’s also important to find time together each day. No TV. No phones. No books. Just each other.
2. Your spouse is your priority.
Whenever your spouse requests your time, make sure you give it. Ultimately, nothing will be more important in life than your relationship with your spouse. If he or she needs your time, perhaps the company meeting or the soccer game can wait?
3. Continually learn about each other.
Take time to ask questions. Even if you’ve been married for decades, there are still things you don’t know about your spouse. Take the time to find out his or her thoughts, feelings, memories, and future goals.
4. Take time for affection.
Have you ever been guilty of going a day without kissing or hugging? It happens a lot if you’re not consciously remembering to do so. It’s important to take time throughout the day to spontaneously show affection. Yes, this does include sex but it’s not all. Affection includes simply holding hands or a back or foot massage. You can even try just looking into one another’s eyes for an indefinite amount of time. A little affection goes a long way.
5. Learn something new together.
How about learning a new language? Or perhaps you could take golf lessons? Or maybe you’d prefer to get your scuba certification? Couples who learn together, grow together.
6. Do your partners favorite thing often.
I heard this piece of advice when my wife and I were still newlyweds. With her, there’s no doubt her favorite thing to do is dancing. So I took ballroom dance lessons. It was surprisingly fun! Doing your spouse’s favorite thing means connecting directly with something that he or she values. It’s also a great way to physically show you care.
7. Share a genuine compliment.
How many times have you thought your husband or wife looked stunning but didn’t say anything? How many times did he or she do something amazing and you forgot to mention it? Take time often to actively look for the good in your spouse and tell them! The catch is that it must be genuine.
8. Say “Thank You”.
Closely related to sharing a compliment is to thank your spouse for something specific. Everyday there are things that he or she does that makes your life better in some way. Thank them for it! Even if it’s something as mundane as, “Thank you for picking up the groceries”. The little things turn into big things. A healthy side effect is a marriage full of gratitude.
9. Plan together.
When you first were married, you had big plans for your life. Are you meeting those goals? Take time together often (at least weekly) to make plans. Plan the everyday tasks and also the big things like vacations and holidays. This is also a perfect time to work on your life vision. What does it look like and how well are you doing in realizing it?
Enough cannot be said about the value of serving your spouse. This means the little things – getting up with the kids, preparing a meal, doing a chore you normally don’t do. If everyone simply focused on this single concept of serving their spouses and putting their needs first, there would be less divorce and more happiness in the world.
What are some ways that make your marriage more mindful?