By Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers
1. Don’t Forget to Play
A common theme for couples who are in conflict is that they no longer laugh and play together. The stress and strain of married life can cause many couples to become too serious. Research shows that laughter and play are not only key ingredients in marital bliss, but emotional and physical health and longevity as well. Belly laughs have been proven to lower stress levels and build immunity. Laughter is healing to your soul and the soul of your marriage. Schedule soul-healing play as a regular part of your relationship. Here are some ways how:
1. Buy joke books as gifts to each other.
2. Take turns reading these books on short trips in the car while the other one drives.
3. Rent one comedy video a week and watch it together.
4. Have a tickle fight twice a month.
5. Wear something silly to bed and surprise your partner.
6. Play a game. Fly a kite. Blow bubbles.
7. Remember what you did as a child that made you laugh and share it with your partner.
You’ve heard that couples who pray together stay together, well couples who play together stay together too!
2. Remember Romance is not a noun, it’s a verb.
Are you worried that the giddy euphoric feeling of being “in love” is starting to fade in your marriage? Before you become too alarmed, you need to know that is not only normal, but a biological necessity. Research shows that when couples fall in love, there a chemical released in the brain called phenylethylamine which is a chemical cousin to amphetamines. This chemical makes us “high” on love. But like any other chemical, the body builds up a tolerance and it takes more and more of the substance to get love’s special kick. After a while the body simply can’t crank enough to satisfy us. These “highs” also stress the body so much that eventually they fade to preserve one’s system. So you see, it is normal for the exhilarating feeling of love to wane to make room for a more mature and healthy relationship. When the feeling dies don’t let the romance die with it. Continue to do the romantic things you did when you met, no matter how you feel and the love will grow.
3. Know that what you were attracted to most in your partner will be what you fight about in marriage.
Research shows that people are attracted to prospective partners who have qualities that may be missing in them. If you are shy you will probably be attracted to someone who is out-going. You will be attracted to your opposite, because he or she possesses what is missing in you. Being in the presence of your opposite might even make you feel more whole. As time goes on, however, you will notice that the very thing you were attracted to in your partner is now the very thing you fight about. There is a simple reason for this. In the beginning of a marriage, you are glad your partner has what you lack, but as time goes on, this makes you uncomfortable and even stressed. The solution to your marital discord is to find out what is missing in you and try to develop it. Your partner’s extroversion may become less of a problem for you as you develop an out-going side of your own.
4. Make forgiveness a regular part of your marriage
A key ingredient in asking for forgiveness from your spouse is truly understanding and empathizing with how they feel about the wrong you have done to them. Simply saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” without fully comprehending what you have put your spouse through can be shallow. In order to ask for forgiveness from your spouse, you need to know exactly what your asking requires from. It takes a very mature and caring person to complete this process, and yet the outcome yields great rewards.