When you think of healthy relationships, what comes to mind?
Absolute harmony? Lots of smiles and starry eyes? No misunderstandings, no raised voices, no hurt feelings?
Do you think of a young couple or one that is has shared the toothpaste tube for A LOT of mornings?
Can you build a healthy relationship that grows stronger year after year, or do you have to settle for the slow deterioration of a relationship, like the balding of the tires on our car?
Life throws a lot at our tires — tight curves, long miles, improper inflation, poor alignment. BUT we don’t throw our hands up and stop driving because we know our tires will wear down. We take steps to improve their performance and we invest in new ones.
A healthy relationship needs similar care.
There are lots of great ways to invest in your relationship to increase the longevity and ensure a smoother ride — but sometimes it is hard to know where to start.
To get you started, here are three ways to have a healthy relationship and smooth out the ride for years to come:
1) Date Night. Each week. No excuses.
I know. I know. Your schedule is nuts.
You’re tired from work. The kids want dinner. Homework insanity. Baths for the toddlers. Laundry, bills, and yard work.
It’s never-ending. But that’s just it. Because the madness never ends, you can’t wait for a “good time” to set aside moments for just the two of you.
Schedule a date night, each week.
Just try it. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It definitely does not need to be expensive. It just needs to be dedicated time just the two of you.
Trade some babysitting time with a neighbor. Make use of time when the kids are at a practice or lesson. Or start by paying a sitter an hour each week (with a bonus for a dish-free sink).
Figure out a way to invest in your relationship without breaking the bank. But save up for a special date night once in awhile too — a play, a concert, that trendy new restaurant.
Scott and I have been married almost twenty years and we’ve rarely missed a weekly date night. You’d think we would get enough of each other at work, but work is work and a date night is different.
We aren’t militant about it, but we even made a weekly date night a priority when I had breast cancer and was going through chemotherapy.
It wasn’t easy, but we see now how much that investment in our relationship pays off all these years later.
2) Find “little” ways to encourage them often.
Plan ways to encourage your partner multiple times throughout the month or week.
Do they hate Mondays? Make sure you fill that day with funny, happy, silly gifs or texts all day long. Or share a meme with them that will make them smile.
Married to a morning person? (Ugh. There’s one in every marriage.) After they’re sound asleep at night, fill the bathroom mirror with sticky notes reminding them of their awesome traits, making the shape of a heart, or even writing “I” “love” and “you” across three of them.
Leave a romantic or funny greeting card on the seat of their car. Make a playlist of songs you both like and share it with them. Fill their shoes with their favorite candy.
Find little ways to encourage your mate and remind them that you’re a fan, by showing them love in little ways.
Way back when you were first attracted to your mate, part of what you felt in the fluttering of your stomach was the realization that “he gets me” (or “she gets me”). Remind them that you do.
Who doesn’t love to have a little encouragement in their day?
3) Pick a once-a-year “big deal”.
Pick a resource to enhance your relationship: a workshop, some podcasts, a webinar, a YouTube series, a retreat, etc.
And schedule a time to make that “big deal” happen for your marriage.
OR if that sounds just too big this year…
Pick one month (February works nice with Valentine’s Day — and it even has fewer days) to read a marriage book and discuss it. Just one month.
You can use your weekly date night to talk about what you’ve learned. You’ll learn some new tips and tricks for this challenging thing called marriage.
But choose one “big deal” this year that will feel like adding hot fudge to your relationship sundae. And then choose an even “bigger deal” next year.
It pays to invest in a healthy relationship.
But much like financial investing, it takes some time and effort to see the payoff.
So keep at it. Little by little.
Invest for the long haul in your relationship. Nothing flashy and fancy that doesn’t feel like the two of you. But look for opportunities to invest in your relationship.
No one knows your spouse or partner like you do.
Remind them as often as you can that you’re a fan — their biggest! The investment will profit both of you.
Make it happen!
Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial experts who help individuals tackle money issues in their relationships. To learn more about how you are wired to handle money, take the FREE online Money Personality Assessment.