Richard Wafula, a counselling psychologist from Amani Counselling Centre has had years of experience counselling troubled marriages. What separates couples that make it through decades and those that die out fast?
- They give each other breathing room
Over time, I have noted that familiarity is one of the biggest causes of boredom in marriage. Allow yourselves to be separate from one another regularly. Time apart makes the heart grow fonder, because it allows you to miss one another. It does not mean that you pack your things and go. It simply means giving each other private time without getting into each other’s private space. If you are in the same environment, it can mean taking a break from doing things that you routinely do together, which can even mean time away from being intimate.
- Know your partner’s love language
Everybody has one or two ways through which they feel most loved. That is their love language, the one they understand best that they are loved. It can be any of these: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion) and physical touch. If your partner likes to be touched, touch them to show that you love them. If they like to be kissed, kiss them. If they like to be appreciated, do that. Do what they like, because that is what they understand.
- Take vacations together
This is one of the most successful ways of reigniting the flame in a marriage. If you can afford it, go for a vacation where you can enjoy private time with each other. Being in the house breeds familiarity that makes marriage boring. When you are alone together, you do things that you ordinarily would not do in the house. You think differently and do things differently with one another.
- Verbalise feelings
You need to constantly reaffirm the love that you have for your partner. Do not just assume they know you love them. Remind them that you do, daily, if you can. Look directly into their eyes when saying it, so that you can both feel that connection. Do this even when things are not working well. Even when in conflict, you two will be able to feel that you are still connected to each other.
- Surprise each other
Do things that will bring back the memories of when you first fell in love with each other. Give them gifts you know they would like when you can afford it. Take them to places that you know they like being at. Ask, “can I take you to a movie?” “Can I take you out for dinner?” Do something for them that you know they would appreciate. However, surprise should be used with caution. Surprises sometimes cause conflict, so do it in a manner that prevents this from happening.
- Talk to one another
There is a popular joke that says that if you want to know who the married people are while driving to work, just look at whether they’re both seated at the front, with the husband busy driving and the wife in the passenger seat but they are not talking to each other. It is all too common. If you want to have a warm marriage, talk to each other. Be playful if you can. Have heart to heart conversations. When they come home, ask them how their day was and actually be interested in knowing and listen. Ask follow up questions of what they say. It is a simple thing to do that is not costly and does not require planning.
- Still strive to impress
You probably used to dress up and look good before you got married, but you stopped dressing up for your spouse after you got married. Even worse, you probably look drab and unkempt if you are not going anywhere. That strangles intimacy. Let your partner see the person he or she saw and fell in love with before getting married.
- Have quality sex
Sex plays such an important role in marriage that taking it for granted can spell doom for the marriage. Good sex helps spice things up. Have it frequently, and agree on how frequent it should be. It helps both of you appreciate one another. Spend time having quality sex, which means being emotionally connected, having invested emotions in it. Do not just come at night and say you want it. Prepare yourselves. Sex should not be a surprise in marriage. It even helps solve some problems before you need to intervene.
- Are spontaneous
Sometimes you become so predictable and do everything in such a predictable routine that it gets dreadfully boring, even with decision making. Infuse spice and excitement in the marriage by getting out of routine and doing things differently.
- Communicate like lovers
Compliments, warm and kind words often stop coming after marriage. This does not have to be the case. Tell your spouse they look good when they do, wish them a good day, use kind words when speaking to them.