A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it becomes almost involuntary. Many of our negative habits formed long before we were in a relationship with our spouse. The way we are cared for as children by parents, teachers, or other family members, leaves a lasting impression. It molds us into the people we are today for better and for worse. We develop coping behaviors and habits to combat past hurt and disappointment. We then apply those behaviors in everyday situations, even if those behaviors don’t lead us to a positive outcome or resolution. There is hope in the definition of the word “habit”. It is an ACQUIRED behavior, meaning you can alter and foster new behaviors!
When it comes to relationships, there are certain habits that can have a powerful and positive impact on the way we interact with each other. It takes time and patience to establish new habits. Once they become second nature you will begin to see a transform in yourself, and in your spouse. These are 10 habits that can help you change your behavior and create healthier habits for a healthier family.
Showing respect to your partner is one of the most important habits you can create. Respect is about valuing your spouse for who they are, including all their strengths and weaknesses. Disagreements are going to occur, but when you respect each other you can more effectively work through those disagreements as a team. When you take the time to show your respect you are also expressing love and acceptance.
EXPRESS POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES ABOUT YOUR PARTNER
During your time away from each other get into the habit of expressing positive attributes about your partner. It can be easy to pick apart and share little annoyances with friends like, “he didn’t get everyone on my shopping list like I asked” or “can you believe she wanted to watch the news in the middle of the big game last weekend?” This negative pattern of behavior can create mistrust and a disconnection from your spouse. Try making a list of all the most valued personality traits your partner has. The next time you have the urge to complain, focus on an item from your list and turn that into your conversation point instead.
WORK TOGETHER AS A TEAM
A healthy partnership requires focus on both long and short-term goals. Create a list of family goals together and then commit to working towards those goals. Happy couples that focus on the “US” in a marriage have things to look forward to.
SHARE A RITUAL
Spend time on a routine together. Do you both enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning or brush your teeth at the same time in the evening? Whatever it is, however small, share it together. Cooking or cleaning together can even become a shared ritual. The habit of sharing a ritual helps create intimacy, connection, and a deeper love and respect for one another.
Take a few minutes in the morning or the evening… maybe even both… and cuddle. This can be as simple as holding each other for a few minutes. Physical touch helps the body release a hormone called oxytocin, which plays a role in social bonding. Oxytocin is oftentimes referred to as “the love hormone.”
TAKE A WALK TOGETHER
Get out and take a short walk together. All you need is 10 minutes. This activity helps promote conversation and quality time together. It removes distractions like phones, computers, and television and allows us to openly share ourselves with our partner. The physical activity isn’t too bad either!
START THE DAY RIGHT
Sometimes it can feel like the stress and anxiety of everyday life gets in the way of truly connecting with our partner. Wake up, get the kids ready, go to work, cook, clean, eat dinner, go to bed. It feels like we don’t have time for anything else and that can put a strain on any relationship. Try waking up 5 minutes early and take some time for just you and your spouse. Drink a cup of coffee together and share your appreciation for one another. Start the day off right!
This one is easy, appreciate your spouse! Express that appreciation in any way that feels comfortable to you and make a habit of doing it every single day. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it can be as simple as saying, “I appreciate all the hard work you put into caring for our family.”
CONNECT DURING THE DAY
We have such busy schedules that it can be hard to reconnect. Make touching base with your partner during the day a priority. Go to lunch together, make a phone call, even send a quick text, anything that helps remind your spouse that they are loved and valued.
SPEAK YOUR PARTNER’S LANGUAGE
We all give and receive love in our own unique ways. Take time to learn what your partner responds to and then use that “language” every day. Does your spouse respond to physical touch, quality time, acts of service? Getting in tune with and then speaking your partner’s language helps foster love, affection, and a sense of value.