Do I have to make my marriage a priority every day?
If you want your marriage to thrive, yes you do.
Well-built marriages are cultivated with intentionality.
In a study that gathered responses from divorcing parents, Reasons for Divorce and Openness to Marital Reconciliation (conducted by Alan J. Hawkins and Brian J Willoughby, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, and William J. Doherty, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota), 55% of the participants disclosed “growing apart” as the most important reason for divorce, with “not getting enough attention” called out by 34%.
Making marriage an every day decision, not an afterthought, is immensely important to continually strengthen a relationship and to protect the connection (from growing apart).
Why It’s Easy to Take Our Partner for Granted
If making my marriage an every day decision is so important to the health of our relationship, then why is it so easy to take my partner for granted?
In his book, “Take Back Your Marriage,” William Doherty explains how “everyday forces in life can drive even good marriages south.”
We are too busy for our marriages. Between work, raising children, and managing daily life, many of us don’t think we have enough time to make our marriage relationship a high priority in daily life.
We get too used to our mate. In marriage, familiarity breeds, not contempt, but taking each other for granted. All relationships lose some degree of newness and freshness over time if we don’t work to put these ingredients back. Psychologists call it, “Habituality,” a universal threat to intimate relationships.
Taking someone for granted is rooted in habituality – when we are controlled by old habits (i.e., not thinking). Intentionality, quite the opposite, is the driving force and quality of our thoughts, beliefs, desires, and hopes, which are directed towards a being or object (i.e., our marriage and partner).
In our busy lives, it is easy to let time pass and slip into habituality. Intentionality in a marriage is work – but it is conducive to what binds a relationship (this love works)!
Avoiding Taking Our Partner for Granted
When marriage is an every day decision and not an afterthought, we avoid taking our partner for granted. We avoid the slow decline that can drain the energy out of our relationship. With a decision to do so every day, we endeavor intentional priority to our connection with our spouse despite the demands of life. This means that we give and receive what we all want and deserve in our relationship, to be number one in our partner’s life.
Making marriage an every day decision is not about putting every ounce of our energy solely into our relationship, every day. It does not mean that we cannot have a life outside of our marriage. Life happens. There will always be things in our life that are a priority and sometimes need to come first.
Remember this, to have a healthy relationship with any of these thirds (e.g., other people – kids, parents, extended family, and friends) we must first take care of the couple.
Read more about You, Me, and a Third at our blog: The Five Most Common Things Couples Fight About – And How To Overcome Them.
Finding Time to Prioritize (Even When Life is Too Busy…)
What we can do to prioritize our marriage is create a life that designates time to be ‘unbusy.’ This can be accomplished in small steps.
Make greeting your spouse a special time.
Set 5 minutes a day aside to say something meaningful that speaks to your partner’s heart.
Make small increments of time moments of appreciation.
Up the clock and set aside a half hour a day for couple or communication time, or a date night that you refuse to break!
Even when something else comes first, even when life is busy, we must always prioritize:
Time to understand our partner’s thoughts and feelings
Time to protect and nurture our partner
Putting our relationship first and foremost (trust, honesty, compassion, and open communication)
Read more at our blog: Making the Decision to Make My Spouse a Priority
Gain the Relationship You Desire
If you feel that you have done all that you can do and you are struggling with making your relationship work, know that sometimes we all need a little help.
Every relationship requires work – and we can navigate this together!
We want to help you and your partner develop a deeper connection, recognize and fight dysfunction, and heal your relationship.