Friday, July 31, 2009

What is trendier marriage or divorce?

We all know that divorce rates are high in North America. We also know that until the recent economic downturn, people had been spending more money than ever on weddings. I had always thought that weddings were clearly more trendy/in style than separation and divorce. However, the latest headlines regarding Jon and Kate have made me realize that perhaps, not only is divorce so rampant in our society it might even be the cool thing to do? Divorce seems to be represented in the media as a way to start over, live many lives in one life - so to speak, regardless of how legitimate the cause of divorce might be.

Anyways, a newly married friend asked me today how the spark of marriage can be maintained when day to day life such as bills, work stress, family issues, etc. get in the way.

Here are my ideas and none of them cost a penny or take too much time.

1. Make the first thing you say to your spouse when you wake up in the morning, see each other after work, etc...sound positive and encourage connecting to each other.
For instance, this is what not to say - "Hi Honey, how was work? (two second pause without getting an answer) ok well the garbage needs to be taken out and I need help with making dinner."
This is a better idea - "Hi Honey, how was work? what did you do today? (wait enough time for a full response). I missed you today, it is so nice to know we have time tonight to be together and am so looking forward to having dinner with you. When you finish whatever you're doing right now would you mind helping me with dinner?"
It only takes a few seconds longer to say the latter version, however if you try this a few times a day when you first see your spouse after time apart, it will definitely make a difference in terms of how upbeat your relationship feels. Taking time to focus on each other before focusing on the mundane is key.

2. Serious conversation such as current events and politics is important in any relationship, and household business also needs to be addressed in any good marriage - however - one important aspect of keeping a relationship fun is maintaining what I like to call "flirtatious banter" that probably was present in your relationship when you started dating.
A good rule to live by is at least once a day ask your spouse one of the following types of questions. You must ask the question out of the blue and ideally in a moment where you both have a second to enjoy each other and reflect. These questions are just examples so be creative and come up with different variations.

-name three things you love; name three things that excite you; name three things you always procrastinate doing, etc...

-"what if?" My husband always asks me "what if" questions that can go something like this, "what if we were stranded in a shopping mall over night, which three stores would you go to and name one thing you would take from each if everything was free. Maximum value $5,000 per item."

-If you could go back to any year of your life which one would it be?; If you could go back to any geographical place you have been which one would you go back to? If you could re-create a moment in life which moment would you re-create?

These questions help us see each other not just as financial partners, soul mates, etc...but as friends who are excited to keep getting to know each other.

3. Delegate chores and trust the other person. So much of marriage interaction involves routine and errands etc. If a couple has a schedule where responsibilities are divided, and chores do not have to continually be re-delegated or discussed, it frees up more time to pursue leisure.

4. Take a walk together every night. Get fresh air. Take a moment from the phone, tv, friends, family, washing the dishes, etc. Just go for a walk. Hold hands. Talk or don't talk. Just enjoy being with each other. If you make 15 minutes every evening to do this together not only will your health be better but you will have something special to look forward to every evening.

If you have any other suggestions, for remaining excited about any type of relationship -- let me know.

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