As married couples, we’re all susceptible to the natural decline of romance, affection, appreciation and communication within our relationships. It’s not the insurmountable problems that erode marriages. It’s the fact that we’ve become too lazy and comfortable. Complacency constricts the life out of many a marriage. So what’s the cure for complacency? It’s to become what marriage researchers call an intentional couple. These couples develop and execute proactive strategies for overcoming this slow descent into mutual co-existence. Our Old Testament friend Moses challenged all of us as married couples to intentionality when he said, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” That word cleave not only means to hold onto for dear life, but it also means to continue pursuing each other for your whole life. So here are three rituals that you can develop to help you defeat the consequences of complacency.
The first one is a greeting ritual. Research suggests that one of the most important moments in any marriage is the minute a couple reunites after a day apart. If you seek out your spouse when you come in the door for a hug and a kiss, you’re saying, Hey, I’m glad to be home with you again. If you’re inconsistent in greeting each other, you can lose that sense of excitement and possibly communicate that you’re aren’t all that glad to be together. So what would you like your greeting ritual to look like when you get home?
Second is what we call the two minute drill. Researchers have also found that 2 minutes of undistracted communication a day can be more significant than spending an entire week of unfocused time together. These 2 minutes don’t happen over a meal because eating is distracting. This should be a time of eye to eye conversation about what’s going on in your hearts and lives at this time. Maybe it’s after you put the kids to bed or after the dishes are done and you’re ready to settle down for evening activities. Just look for 2 minutes that will work for you.
And third is what we want to call an appreciation-gram. One of the subtle erosions of complacency is that we start to take the good in each other for granted. We stop noticing the positive attributes and actions of our spouse, and we concentrate on his or her shortcomings. Here’s an idea, when you think about or see something that you appreciate about your spouse, give him or her a call, or send a text or an email and share that appreciation. Hey, it’s going to be a challenge to make these three rituals happen every day. That’s why we call the couple who can make these things happen, Intentional.