We all know by now that marriage is hard work and in order to create marriages that are the best reflections of ourselves and our partners, we have to put in the time and the effort to make our marriage as successful as everything else in our lives. These 12 keys can help you and partner to reconnect or deepen your connection while also bringing out the best in each other during this tough time.
I know it can be hard to add one more thing to an already very long list of things to do and focus on right now, but your marriage deserves to be at the top of that to-do list. Even if you and your partner resolve to focus on one key per week, your marriage will be stronger through this very stressful time. I tried to organize the keys below in terms of ease and fun so check them out and resolve to bring more hope and love into your marriage this year.
Key #1: Date Night: Quarantine Style
Date night looks very different right now but it is still very important to spend quality time together at least one night a week to reconnect and talk. I encourage you to put on some regular date night clothes (change out of pjs just one night a week) and sit down to a quiet dinner together after the kids go to bed. My partner and I love to order takeout a couple times a month from a local restaurant after the kids are in bed. We are supporting local businesses and also focusing on a nice meal and sitting down together. You can also make an adult dinner together once a week and spend time together as you cook and eat. Put this time on your calendar each week and be committed to it. I promise you and your partner will look forward to it! Plus, it leads directly to key #2.
Key #2: Make a lot of love A LOT!
During quarantine, you have all the time in the world to make love. Physical intimacy is really central to a successful marriage. For so many of us, physical touch is our love language and spending time physically connecting with our spouse makes us feel loved and wanted. That’s really key to what marriage is all about. When everything else in the world is crazy and stressful, the time you spend making love is an escape from the world with your partner. You might not feel like you have the time to make love a lot but I promise that if you make a plan with your spouse to make love even two, three or more times a week and really stick to it for a week or so, you will find your connection to be even stronger and you will discover ways to sneak in a lot more lovemaking every week!
Key #3: Pray together
This is one of those keys that takes so little time from jampacked days but gives you space to breathe together. Praying together during this very stressful time helps to create a sense of calm in your marriage. Before bed each night or right after you tuck the little ones into bed and say prayers with them, pray with your partner. Take a few minutes to offer thanks and grace to God and to each other. These quiet moments when you invite God into your marriage helps to strengthen your emotional connection to God and your partner. Win-Win!
Key #4: Offer grace to each other
If you’re like me, you are relatively quick to offer grace to the people we work with each day or to our children when they make mistakes. Too often, we hold grudges or harbor anger with our spouse rather than offering them that same grace that flows so easily in many other areas of our lives. Our spouses often take the brunt of our frustrations and our setbacks and we forget that we have to also look to the good in them. This is especially true now that we are spending more and more time together. My wife didn’t mean to leave the dirty dishes in the sink overnight, she simply fell asleep after putting our crazy daughter to bed. Instead of grumbling about the dishes, I need to offer her grace and just load the dishwasher and maybe bring her a cup of coffee too. Being quick to grace and not to frustration goes a long way to setting our marriages up for success.
Key #5: Forgive each other
This can be one of the hardest keys to embrace, especially if you typically hold a grudge. This key goes hand-in-hand with praying together and offering grace. Forgiveness is an extension of both of those keys. Many couples are spending a fair amount of time together that they are not used to spending together daily. It can be very easy to get on each other’s last nerve over small things like cleaning or projects. Take a deep breath and forgive your partner for frustrating you. Start small if you can and work up to those big situations. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in marriage and one that will help you to have a more successful marriage this year.
Key #6: Have patience for each other
During this time of quarantine, we are stretched in new ways. Many of us are working from home while we are trying to homeschool our children. Many of us are worried about losing our jobs or nervous about the general economic stress we are under. Often, we take that fear and frustration out on our partner. We often show our worst sides to our spouses because we are comfortable and safe with them. That can often look like frustration and a severe lack of patience. Remember, this is the person you love most in the world. Grant them the same patience you grant to your toddler at the very least.
Key #7: Respect each other
Now that many couples are working from home together, respect takes on a whole new meaning. It is even more important to be mindful of each other and what both you and your partner are trying to accomplish each day. Creating a daily family calendar can help you to keep track of each other’s meetings or conference calls as well as your children’s Zoom meetings or Google Meets. Both of your jobs are equally important and setting up a schedule will help each partner feel respected for all that they are trying to accomplish. Both partners have to be willing to compromise in this new time of navigating working from home, schooling from home, and running a household. Respect each other’s time and need to get things done.
Key #8: Encourage each other
It is important to know your partner’s hopes and dreams. This is a great time to talk about goals for when the world starts to turn again. When your spouse shares their goals and resolutions with you, encourage them to accomplish them. Make their goals as important as your own. Be their biggest cheerleader and do your best to help them and give them the space they need to plan their goals. This also works for the goals you set together. How can you push and support each other to be the best version of yourselves that you can be? Make your individual and couple goals a priority and celebrate your progress as you spend more time together right now.
Key #9: Be careful who you vent to
Marriage can be downright frustrating at times, especially now. We are tired. We are frustrated. We are scared. It can be easy to escape to the bedroom or the bathroom and text or call your best friend to vent about how ridiculous your spouse is today. There are times when that is needed, for sure. I’m not telling you to not hop into the conversation when all of your girlfriends are commiserating over a cocktail in your Zoom happy hour about their husbands. I am telling you to remember that this is your partner and that the way you paint them when you vent is how your social world sees them. Sharing stories of the ridiculous outfit your husband wore all day because he didn’t have to be on a video call is one thing. Sharing stories of your latest serious fight is another thing. How will your friends or neighbors view your spouse after that fight blows over depending on what you say? Keep that in mind the next time you vent about your spouse.
Key #10: Communicate effectively
If you and your partner are spending more time together than normal, then this is a great time to figure out how you two best communicate. Do you share your goals for the day over your morning coffee? Or are you both night owls who would rather chat about the next day before you fall asleep? Communicating effectively can be a difficult undertaking but once you recognize how you and your spouse communicate and find common ground for that, communication becomes so much easier. Everyone does communicate differently. The key is to figure out how you communicate and how your spouse communicates and figure out how to make those two methods work together. If you haven’t taken the Love Languages quiz yet, do it! It can work wonders to help you share effectively with your spouse. Use this quarantine time to try new methods and new ways to share your days, your wins, and your losses with your spouse.
Key #11: Don’t take each other for granted
If our experiences during this global pandemic have taught us anything, it is not to take the people in your life for granted. This is especially true of your spouse. You might not be sending flowers or sweeping your spouse off for a romantic weekend away right now, but there are many ways to show them that you love and value them while the outside world feels a bit off tilt. Make your spouse coffee in bed. Put away a load of laundry without being asked to. Tell your spouse you will put the kids to bed or take the dogs for a walk so they can have an hour to themselves. These little intentions add up to a relationship that has value and a spouse that feels valued.
Key #12: Trust each other
Relationships are built on trust. It sounds like a cliché but it is true. In this time of great uncertainty, it is so important to trust your partner and the love they have for you. Do you trust that your spouse wants the best for you and your relationship? Now is the perfect space to really deepen your trust for one another. Trust that everything they do or don’t do is not meant to hurt you but that they are doing the best they can. Trust that behind every decision they make is their love for you and your family. Trust that they mean well even if the outcome isn’t always what was expected. It is not always easy to give your complete and total trust to anyone but one of your goals for a successful marriage this year is to work on building that trust. All of these keys really build to creating a relationship built solidly on trust. It is worth it!
Bonus Key: Get off your cell phone and enjoy each other’s company
I know that by the end of the day during this time of quarantine, my wife and I are tired of looking at a screen. Since all of our work and social activity is tied to a computer or phone screen right now, we can easily embrace quiet evenings spent together, not looking at a screen. We have started to do puzzles together. We play board games. We sit outside and enjoy the evening sky. We work on home projects together we have been putting off. All of these things allow us to be together without a screen involved!
No one could have imagined a few months ago that this would be our current reality. While there is much about this pandemic experience that is frightening, uncertain, and frustrating, this time has forced us to really evaluate the important things in our lives. We have time we wouldn’t have normally had to really deepen our bond with our spouse and I hope you use this time to create a relationship that will emerge even stronger when this is all over.