It's a common scenario: Boy meets Girl. Boy woos Girl, then marries her, and then they live happily ever after for all eternity.
Don't believe me? Check in with them eight years later and see for yourself: a mortgage, two kids, juggling household chores and bills and babysitters and work and social demands .... Doesn't that sound happy to you?
Boy and Girl, as we're calling them--also known as You and Your Partner--might be sharing these duties in life, but likely feel completely alone in the process. A lot of couples in America suffer from a lapse in communication during marriage that makes this possible. After all, marriage is viewed as a lifetime commitment, and life certainly brings its ups and downs to bear.
So, how do you stay connected to your spouse through all of them? The short answer is, you don't.
But if you're willing to put in a little effort--even very little effort--you can set up a simple routine that can connect you and your spouse quickly and easily, no matter how chaotic your week. Just follow the simple steps below every month or more, and you'll see your communication and understanding improve in no time.
How do I know this will work? Not long before our first anniversary, my own husband and I set to work, hammering out a little trick to keep us connected--something specific to our personal communication style that went beyond the usual platitudes we kept hearing from more experienced husbands and wives, and that only kept us guessing (like "don't sweat the small stuff" or "never go to bed angry"). So many of the self-help and couples books I was reading at that time had wonderful communication exercises that simply ended up being too time-consuming or otherwise complex for us. After testing and ultimately rejecting many of them, we customized this exercise that we call "The 3 Rs of Marriage"(c).
Ask your mate:
(1) What's one thing you RECOGNIZE that made you feel loved today?
(2) What's one thing you did to RETURN love to me today?
(3) What would you like to REQUEST that I do to show you love tomorrow?
Notice how each question concentrates on listening to the other person's feelings and seeing the world through his or her eyes. Love is the central theme, so the conversation is always a feel-good way to end the day. What you learn about your partner (say, that he or she is really thinking of you when mowing the yard--so you don't have to) and what you learn about yourself via this process can astound you.