Marriage needs intention and attention, a lot of it in clear and precise doses. Marriage is like a plant, when you sow the seed you need to give it attention. In order to stay healthy, a plant requires daily attention and care, such as water and sunlight. Taking care of a plant isn't difficult, but it does require nourishment.
A happy marriage has two people, a man and woman who love each other, have a great deal of mercy between them and are committed to bringing out the best in each other. Like the plant, marriage needs regular nourishment too.
In a healthy marriage the couple have positive energy and attitudes that demonstrate gratitude and appreciation, two most powerful expressions of humility. Ingratitude causes marriage-rot and lack of appreciation pushes it over the edge.
Good and bad habits can make or break a marriage. Good habits help creating an environment of positivity. For example saying thank you, regular acts of compassion and offering help and support for each other's tasks and responsibilities are all parts of good habits. Negative habits include criticism, contempt, sarcasm, eye-rolling and distancing behaviours.
The secret is to harness healthy habits as opposed to destructive habits is to create a safe space for both. You don't need to move a mountain to stay happy in your marriage. Just do small things regularly.
Below, are seven small but significant gestures you can incorporate in your day-to-day life:
1. Greet your partner lovingly in the morning.
When you first see your spouse, instead of having a negative or even neutral interaction, greet them with a positive statement. Say a hearty Salaam (islamic greeting of peace). Show that you are happy to be married to him or her and you are glad to wake up besides him or her. The key is to be positive and loving. You start your day well it is most likely to end well.
2. Send a sweet text.
Use modern-day technology to stay connected throughout the day by sending your spouse a playful, flirtatious or sweet text. Write anything from “I miss you” to “I can’t wait to see you tonight,” Don't use text messages for arguments and negativity. Share your loving thoughts with your spouse even if it is in a short sentence or a cute image.
3. Reunite with a hug.
Make your reunion conscious and thoughtful. Some married couples often become very boring and functional that every time they meet, they check on tasks and chores - such as “Why didn’t you cook dinner?” or “Why didn’t you take out the rubbish?”
Instead, any time you reunite with your spouse, have an intentional hug that lasts 20 seconds. This is actually longer than the average hug, and it’s long enough for oxytocin, the bonding hormone, to be released. An intentional hug with your spouse includes all parts of your front body meeting the front body of your spouse. Enjoy the warmth and love.
4. Touch your partner at mealtime.
When you’re eating dinner together, make it a point to touch your partner. You might touch their hand or arm, or your legs might touch. Touch is a powerful tool for connection especially for couples. Imagine not being touched by your spouse for long; usually couples refrain from touching when they are angry with each other. Touch is an expression of love, warmth and passion. Keep it alive in your relationship as often as possible.
5. Compliment your partner at the end of the day.
Many marriages, suffer from chronic under-appreciation. Partners don’t feel appreciated, and they, too, don’t show their appreciation. The relationship becomes clouded by a sense of resentment because both are feeling being taken for granted.
As a couple, end your day with thanking each other for one small act that you really appreciate. It could be anything from “Thanks for picking up the dry cleaning” to “Thanks for making dinner” to “Thanks for hanging out with my family.” Focus your attention on the things they do, not just what they don’t do.
6. Express your needs from a place of vulnerability.
Often couple resort to criticism instead of describing their needs. For example, if you are annoyed that your spouse is on the phone you might say, “You’re always on the phone.”
Now try the following sentence instead: “I’d like to spend some time with you. Could you spend some time with me please?” This invites a dialogue between partners, and not an attack. Your partner would respond more positively to your needs if your expressions demonstrate your need and would react defensively if you use critical and negative language.
7. Connect with each other spiritually.
All of us breath, our heart beats, our pulse races. When was the last time you felt your spouses breath, heart beat or even pulse consciously? Take a moment and place your hand on their arms, chest or stomach to feel their life. It will connect you spiritually at a very deep level. Synch your heart beat together for one minute and see how the power of your love sparks deeper connectivity with your spouse.
End your day with something actively spiritual. As a Muslim you would pray your daily prayers. Save part of the evening prayer so that you can share it with your spouse. It is a powerful way to end your day. Some couples may prefer to start their day together through prayers, that is also a good practice. Some prefer to read, reflect or meditate together.
Remember marriage evolves, be positive and brave you will enjoy the process and outcome together.