I totally sweat the small stuff, because that’s the stuff that matters.
There was a time when I imagined that marriage would be like one long, unclad sleepover. I envisioned late nights staying up together eating ice cream, cooking in an apron with not much underneath and whole days lounging in bed together.
Seven years later, most of my dreams have been shattered (well, except maybe the ice cream), but when push comes to shove I’m in my marriage for the long haul.
And that means working on my marriage game daily in a few big (and small) ways. I make an effort to do these things every day:
1. I touch my husband.
Not in a dirty way (although that doesn’t necessarily hurt either), but just in some small way. I’m ashamed to admit that if I’m not conscious of it, it’s totally possible for days to go by without us having any physical contact.
That physical touch — whether it be a simple hug, kiss or even holding hands — helps keep us connected.
2. I thank him.
My husband and I actually go overboard in this department, but better safe than sorry, I say. We’re both very cognizant of showing our gratitude for how hard the other one works, and it’s so easy to just say, “Thanks, honey, for doing that.” Even if it’s something totally dumb like changing the baby’s poop diaper.
3. I do things I don’t feel like doing.
I’m not the world’s most selfless person, so sometimes I have to force myself to do something I don’t enjoy for the sake of my marriage. Generally, this will mean something like seeing my husband out the door or making him coffee before I fix one for myself.
It’s little stuff, sure, but those are the things that make a difference.
4. I take care of myself.
Part of a happy marriage means making sure that numero uno — me — is taken care of. Happy wife, happy life, right?
I try to take check of myself and what I need, and make that happen. It might mean asking my husband if I can have a “timeout” for 10 minutes or locking myself in the bedroom, but I’m slowly learning to put myself first once in a while for the health of our marriage.
5. I exercise.
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Along those lines, exercise is a high priority. It’s my sanity and my therapy, and it has major benefits all-around — ahem, even in the bedroom. It’s a non-negotiable for me and those benefits trickle down into my marriage.
6. I give my husband a .-by-. of my day.
Sadly, I’m actually serious about this one. My husband made fun of me once for doing this, so I now make it a point to continue it because I’m annoying like that.
No, but really, it’s important for our relationship that we understand the big — and small — moments about each other’s days, right down to the time the toddler locked himself in the closet and peed on all the clean blankets. (True story, this actually happened yesterday.)
7. I send text messages.
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but checking in with each other during the day is a simple way to stay connected. Today’s text exchange looked a little something like this: “How’s it going p” (from my husband; I think the “p” was a typo).
Mine was quite riveting: “Good, u?” I know, the romance is way too exciting.
8. I let my husband cook dinner.
You like how I phrased that? As if “letting” my husband cook me delicious meals is a gift to our marriage? But hear me out on this one — it actually is.
When I let go of the guilt of what I was “supposed” to do as a “good” wife, I’m able to focus on being the wife that I want to be instead, which is the type of wife who is downright ecstatic to have a man who can cook for me. Because I actually hate cooking.
9. I pray for my man.
I kind of cheat at this one, because our nightly prayers as a family actually happen around my kids’ bed. We read a story together, then say a few prayers out loud, but I’ve found that the act of praying in front of my kids allows us to say things we may otherwise feel weird about.
10. I focus on the good.
Don’t get me wrong, I focus plenty on the annoying crap my husband does. But when I’m tempted down the road of thinking, “Hmm, I wonder how hard a divorce really would be?” it helps me to remember that the good things about my husband are just as real as any time he left his underwear for me to pick up again.