The best way to avoid having a bad marriage is to be proactive and understand the habits of a healthy marriage. A healthy marriage takes work and effort from both partners to maintain. Here are 16 habits that will transform your relationship.
Why Habits Matter
Habits are essential for a productive and happy life for several reasons.
First, habits help to establish routines that can make everyday tasks easier and less time-consuming.
Second, habits can help to increase productivity by providing a structure for our days and weeks.
Third, habits can help to promote positive emotions and mental states by providing a sense of accomplishment and positive reinforcement.
Finally, habits can help to create a sense of balance in our lives, which can lead to greater overall satisfaction and happiness.
We are the sum total of our daily habits.
If you’ve read many self-help books I’m sure you’ve read the quote.
Same works for marriage.
It’s the sum total of our daily habits that make it great.
Too often couples think it’s the big events that make marriage work.
“If we could just get away for a week, things would be different.”
But it’s not. When you get back from the get-away, things fall back into the same ole grind. Pretty soon frustration sets in…again.
Because it is not the big events and special occasions that make a relationship strong. Or happy.
It’s the little things, the daily habits, that make marriage work.
Truth is, things left to themselves tend to deteriorate.
Take a look at any lawn where little or no work has been done and you will find weeds overtaking the place.
Same with relationships.
Here’s 16 Daily Habits That Can Make Your Marriage Great
One of the best ways to invest in your marriage is simple. Talk to one another.
Talking let’s us share important information about our day. That’s a given.
But it does much more. It’s not just about the transmitting of information; it’s about connection.
There is an important principle at play here: Getting along is not the same as connecting.
I know couples who get along. But they have very little connection.
Connecting is about sharing something on a deeper level.
Judith Glaser, phychologist and anthropologist at Harvard, says:
Deep connection goes beyond simple ‘looks’ because it originates out of interaction and behavior. But it especially happens through an important, magical word: ‘sharing.’
When we share intimacy with someone, when we tell them secrets, share values and passions with them, our brain releases oxytocin.
Think about what she said.
Sharing should be a transparent and integral act ruled by one essential word: trust.
Related article: 6 Characteristics of Emotionally Safe Relationships.When we share intimacy with someone, when we tell them secrets, share values and passions with them, our brain releases oxytocin and we connect on a deeper level. Click To Tweet
The more we share of our lives (and about our lives) the deeper the connection grows.
One relationship expert even caused a couple who had never met fall in love by simply having them ask and answer a series of 36 questions.
The daily habit of talking is the #1 habit to build a strong, healthy marriage.
# 2 Pray
That’s not just a religious statement. A study by David B. Larson from Duke University (and Susan Larson, John Gartner) documented in Behavior and Medicine, suggests religious attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability.
Marriages in which both spouses attend religious services frequently are 2.4 times less likely to end in divorce.
Those who consider their religious beliefs “very important” are 22 percent less likely to divorce than those to whom religious beliefs are only “somewhat important.
One interesting static (Brad Wilcox, University of Virginia) indicates husbands who attend religious services frequently have happier marriages and report higher satisfaction with their relationship.
The more frequently husbands attended religious services, the happier their wives said they were with the level of affection and understanding that they received and the amount of time that their husbands spent with them.
Those who worship weekly are more likely to report they ‘extremely enjoyed intercourse with their spouse, than those who do not worship.(Source)
In their book The Redbook Report on Female Sexuality, Carol Tavris and Susan Sadd found that women who were very religious had greater satisfaction in sexual intercourse with their husbands than did moderately religious or non-religious women.An interesting statistic: The more frequently husbands attended religious services, the happier their wives said they were with the level of affection and understanding that they received and the amount of time that their husbands… Click To Tweet
# 3 Play
Playing is about finding things you enjoy and doing them together.
My wife and I love the outdoors. When we lived in Colorado, we spent several days each week in mountains hiking. It was bonding time.
We currently live near a lake in Middle Tennessee. So our ‘down time’ is spent hanging out on the water.
I know couples that enjoy playing tennis. Others, golf.
Whatever you enjoy, do it together. You will bond from simply sharing life together. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are low cost activities you can do together thal will help you bond.Whatever you enjoy, do it together. You will bond from simply sharing life together. Click To Tweet
Another way you can play together is game night.
Related article: 20 Valentine’s Day Games for Couples
Date night is one of the best ways to play. Plan a fun night at least every other week (I suggest each week, but at a minimum you need to do this twice a month). Make it fun and entertaining.
You’ll connect because you play together.
Chris Freytag from Get Healthy U writes:
It may sound silly, but she has a point. Feeling happier is a natural byproduct of exercise due to the feel-good chemicals (endorphins) that it helps you release.
The release of endorphins also helps ramp up your sex drive, so not only will working out together make you happier, but it will up your desire.
Or course, it’s not just about sex. It’s about the connection and ‘feel good’ juice we get from moving our bodies.
But there is another benefit from exercising together: Emotional bonding.
Couples’ shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality.
Lab studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner. Click To Tweet
Lab studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner.
The British Journal of Psychology (2010) reports:
Nonverbal mimicry helps people feel emotionally attuned with one another, and those who experience or engage in it tend to report greater feelings of having “bonded” with their partner.
When we exercise together we create this non-verbal mimicry with our spouse, which produces the emotion bond of connection.
Texting throughout the day can be a way to stay connected.
Social media occupies a great bit of people’s lives. There good and bad about that. Our suggestion is to use it as an advantage to strengthen your marriage.
There are a few warnings to go along with this:
First, do not let social media (texting) replace ‘real’ communication.
Second, don’t allow it to dominate your time. Limit the amount of time you a lot to social media.
Third, don’t over do it. No one likes to be stalked. Not even your spouse. So keep it in moderation.
To be honest, our advice is to extremely limit social media (including phone and texting). It can become a crutch or deterrent to personal connection.
But if you are going to use it, do so in a way that helps you connect with your spouse.
Take the Marriage Quiz and discover your marriage score and get suggestions on how to improve your relationship. You will also be sent the results of your quiz along with suggestions on how to create the marriage of your dreams. >> Take The Quiz Now <<
My wife an I have a few causes we really believe in. When we have the opportunity, we serve those causes by volunteering our resources and TIME. We serve together to help others.
There are so many advantages of serving others.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Releases endorphins (those feel good chemicals in the brain)
- Inspires others to do good
- Decreases depression
- Extends your lifespan
One study revealed that people who suffered from chronic pain saw a reduction in symptoms by serving others.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of serving is it gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. We will talk about this more in a minute.
Serving will help us feel connected and close to our spouse because we are helping others.Serving gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. It helps us feel connected and close to our spouse because we are helping others. Click To Tweet
Saying something good about your spouse has obvious benefits. Everyone likes to be complimented. It makes us feel valued and appreciated.
But there are hidden benefits. One particular side-affect is it builds trust.
If you’ve read The Healthy Marriage before, you know trust is the foundation for a healthy marriage.
When you compliment someone, you endear them to you. We love people who value us.
Make a habit of complimenting your spouse every. Remember, your intimacy grows in direct proportion to the value you have for your spouse.
#8 Work Together
Like exercise and serving, working together create deeper intimacy.
I realize not everyone has the opportunity to work side by side with their spouse. But you can create moments of connection by working on projects together.
Teamwork is often valued in the business arena. But it is more important, and more vital in marriage.
Business guru’s tell us teamwork creates synergy. This means the sum of our work is greater than the individual parts. It has a multiplication affect. Not only in terms of the product that is produces; but the Comradery that’s built.
Same with marriage.
When we work together to accomplish goals and projects, or just stuff around the house, we build synergy that creates exponential emotional connection.When we work together to accomplish goals and projects, or just stuff around the house, we build synergy that creates exponential emotional connection. Click To Tweet
This leads me to one of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage…
#9 Share a Mission
Marriages with purpose are happier, healthier and more balanced.
While this is not so much a daily habit, we need to build our daily habits around the fact that we are married for a reason.
This point connects the dots with a lot of the previous things we’ve discussed; working together, serving, and even exercising together.
Here’s why this is so important…
Many people believe marriage is just an arrangement where we exchange goods and services. Both couples pool their resources to make life easier. It’s a barter system. I bring this to the table and you bring that. We exchange goods and services.
This may be the view of many, but it is far from marriage can and should be.
Healthy marriages – the ones that last and flourish – are those with a shared purpose.
For example, I love my wife. She has a quirky personality that makes me laugh. We enjoy a lot of the same things. She supports my hobbies and passions, and I support hers. We do life well together.
For most, this is what it is all about. But there is much more than that.
We share a mission together. We want to help couples (and individuals) build better lives. We have a company called ‘Better Life Foundations.’ It’s in it’s infancy (because we have so many other projects that demand our attention). But it’s always ‘there.’ In the forefront of our minds.
In fact, this website is under the umbrella (though distinct) of that mission.
Because we share that mission, we feel more connected, intimate, satisfied and fulfilled in our relationship. It’s not just about ‘we get along great.’ There is so much more to it.
We share a mission. A vision. A passion to help people. This mission gives us purpose.
Every day join hands and take another step to fulfil our mission. It makes us feel close.
Wait. It’s more than feeling close. It connects us. We ARE close. On a deep, internal level.
Mission does that to you. For you.
My challenge: Do you know your mission? Have you spent time discussing ‘why’ you are together?
Related: Katie Bennett has a great article on developing a marriage missions statement. I highly recommend starting that journey if you haven’t already.
Take some time to do this. You’ll discover a purpose that connects you on a more intimate level.
We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh. ~ Agnes Repplier
My wife says a sense of humor is more important than my looks. Not sure how to take that. Just kidding.
It’s true. Laughter is important for healthy relationships.
Laughter diffuses tension and arguments.
John Gottman indicates that couples who know how to diffuse tension will build deeper, happier relationships.
Laughter also smooths out problems and anxiety.
Dr. Richard Cookerly says:
Loving with laughter can give needed relief by assisting people, at least temporarily, [with becoming] distracted from physical and emotional pain, fear, anxiety, other bad feelings, and also from life’s problems and difficult situations. A good, loving ‘laughter break’ often helps people approach a difficulty from a new and better angle, seeing solutions they were blinded to previously.
Laughter builds intimacy.
Enorphines (and other chemicals) are released in the brain that make us feel good and connect us to those we share the moment with. It’s important to laugh together so we can bond and connect deeply.
A study at the University of Kansas discovered that dating couples fell in love quicker when they laughed together.
Males’ humor production and females’ responsive laughter were both associated with females’ dating interest. Both partners’ dating interest was associated with simultaneous laughter.
Physical touch is powerful. We’ve talked about the benefits of physical touch before.
Here’s a short list:
- Mental health and emotional well being
- Better sleep
- Improves immune system
- Reduces loneliness
- Decreases stress
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases white blood cell production
While these benefits are inspiring, there is a greater effect: Our emotional, mental and spiritual health is connected to touch.
Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it always tells the truth. – Margaret Atwood
We feel more connected to people when they touch us.
“To touch someone you love is to acknowledge their presence and to communicate your desire for them. Touch even outranks sex in characteristics of a successful marriage.
It’s the reciprocity of touch that increases intimacy and relationship satisfaction
It doesn’t take much effort to reach out an touch your spouse. And it doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. In fact, it’s the little touches that often matter the most.
#12 Say Hello and Goodbye
I heard this one from the folks at Brainy Dose.
The simple act of saying goodbye and hello has an indelible mark on our relationship.
It let’s our partner know that we are conscious of them (and not preoccupied with our own lives). It indicates we care enough to let them know we will miss them, and we are glad to see them when we get home.
Yes. It’s a little thing.
But the little things make or break a relationship.
This is one of those subtle things we do that send a signal to our spouse.
When we leave without saying goodbye, it signals we don’t care that they know we are leaving. When we fail to say hello, we signal they are not important enough to acknowledge.
Creating this small habit can breath life into a drowning marriage.
As I write this, the most important article on our site is ‘How Important is Kissing in a Marriage?’
Kissing has a synchronizing effect.
Something syncs in our brains when we kiss. There is a harmonizing of our hearts through intimate touch and sexual activity.
When we kiss (or make love) we tune it to one another. In a most literal sense we become one.
Couples who have a daily habit of kissing, increase their potential for deeper intimacy and connection.
It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.
You’ve heard that before. It’s true.
Yet giving is the universal language of love. We give because we care about someone. It’s the nature respond of love.
Do things because you care.
It’s also not the value of the gift that matters, but the value you place on the person your giving the gift to.It’s also not the value of the gift that matters, but the value you place on the person your giving the gift to. Click To Tweet
It’s the little things I give my wife that seem to matter most to her. In fact, she has a notebook (or two) of all the letters I’ve written her over the years. She loves the flowers I bring her, the jewelry I’ve bought over time, but it’s the letters that she talks about the most.
They are my gifts to her.
I tell you this because it’s truly not the big things that say ‘I love you’ the most; it’s the little gestures.
If your spouse enjoys reading, pick up that new book they’ve been talking about.
Or grab that Redbox movie they’ve been wanting to see.
Do that little thing for them that you know makes them happy.
And if you don’t know what those little things are, refer to #1 on the list. And get busy discovering your spouse.
#15 Say ‘I Love You’ Often
This is another obvious habit, but one that is often overlooked or buried.
Read any relationship forum and you’ll eventually find a thread that asks, ‘When should I tell my boyfriend (or girlfriend) I love you?’
I get it. Those words have weight. They mean something. So saying them can change a relationship.
But what about marriage? When should you say ‘I love you’ in a marriage?
No mincing words here. A few sentences above I said ‘saying them can change a relationship.’ Same with marriage.
When we say ‘I love you’ to our spouse we are affirming what we meant when we originally said those words.
And, as long as it is sincere, you can’t say it enough.
I cringe when I hear some guy joke, “I told her I love her on our honeymoon. If I change my mind, I’ll let her know!’
I realize it is a joke. But it’s a bad one.
I haven’t found many wives that think it is humorous.
My point is, when we say those three little words, we offer connection, value, and affirmation to our spouse. We are letting them know we still feel the same as when we proposed. We still value them as our ‘one and only.’
We are offering the security in the fact that they can’t be replaced.
Saying ‘I love you’ is putting money into their emotional bank account.
They are magic words that hold the power to reinvigorate something was dying.
Make a daily habit to let your spouse know they still occupy your heart. Say ‘I love you’ every day.
#16 Go To Bed Together
This one is subtle, yet powerful.
Studies show that couples who go to bed at the same time have a more trusting relationship.
When couples do not, usually one partner is surfing the web, working or watching television.
An alarming discovery was reported by Jeffrey Larson:
“[C]ouples whose wake and sleep patterns were mismatched (e.g., an evening person married to a morning person) reported significantly less marital adjustment, more marital conflict, less time spent in serious conversation, less time spent in shared activities and less frequent sexual intercourse than matched couples.”
According to Wendy Troxel, PhD, reports:
Women who go to bed earlier or later than their partners report lower relationship satisfaction the next day than women who tuck in at the same time as their honeys.
Why going to bed together works:
Research shows that cuddling helps people feel relaxed and nurtured. Sharing a bedtime routine increases the likelihood of this type physical bonding.
On the negative side, not sharing the same sleep habit creates loneliness, and feelings of being physically and emotionally detached.
You don’t necessarily have to fall asleep at the same time, but going to bed together gives you the opportunity to wind down together.
Make it a habit to go to bed at the same time. It provides you an opportunity to wind down together. You can even implement some of the other items on the list while you are at it.
Wrapping It Up
Daily habits are what make our life.
Our marriage is (and always will be) a reflection of our daily relationship habits. What we do on a regular basis.
In this article we listed 16 daily habits that can radically change your marriage.
Here’s a Summary:
- #1 Talk
- # 2 Pray
- # 3 Play
- #4 Exercise
- #5 Text
- #6 Serve
- #7 Compliment
- #8 Work Together
- #9 Share a Mission
- #10 Laugh
- #11 Touch
- #12 Say Hello and Goodbye
- #13 Kiss
- #14 Give
- #15 Say ‘I Love You’ Often
- #16 Go To Bed Together
It’s Your Turn
Are there things you do on a daily basis that makes your marriage better?
Which habit listed above is most impacting in your relationship?
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Academy
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.
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