You know how you’re supposed to take your car in every so many miles to get a lube, oil, filter done and have your car checked? Cars last a lot longer when they are regularly maintained … and so do marriages.
Today I want to share Carrie Wrigley‘s ideas for marriage maintenance. For those of you who don’t know about Carrie and her work, she has been a marriage counselor for over 20 years and she gives presentations at BYU Education Week, among other places. Ed Week is where I was fortunate enough to find her.
In her discussion about how to build (or re-build) relationships, she talked about the 4 Ts: Time, Talk, Trust, and Touch. When she focused in on the topic of time, she shared that she and her husband are extremely busy people. Between their family life, work, Church, and community service, their lives are packed. I remember thinking when she described their schedules that “busy” was probably quite an understatement!
Yet, they have a planned schedule to make sure they take care of their marriage. Here it is:
- Every morning they wake up together and spend about 10 minutes “in each other’s arms”. They just lay there and connect and talk, and as desired, they engage in some beautiful, connecting intimacy.
- At night, they talk for about 5 minutes before they fall asleep.
- Once a week they have a fun date. The full focus is fun. Go to this link at HappyWivesClub.com for a ton of date ideas.
- Once a week they have a talk that includes talking about any conflicts or issues that are bothering either person.
I personally find that my marriage works best when my husband and I keep a similar schedule. We fumble and flub around sometimes (more than we’d like, for sure!), but when things are going well, we’re usually doing the above four activities regularly. We talk in the morning and evening (and during the day if my husband’s home), go on a date on the weekend, and have what we call a “Sunday Chat”.
During our Sunday Chats, we focus mostly on what is going on during the upcoming week. We ask each other questions that we haven’t gotten around to like, “Is there anything you’d like to do for family home evening soon?”. It’s also when we resolve any conflicts we need to. Last week I asked about a situation where we had some pretty serious communication issues. I just asked if we needed to talk about it any more than we had, and my husband said no and we moved on. When we miss any of these things regularly, our connection suffers and we try to get on track ASAP.
More on Conflict Resolution
At my father’s insistence, his kids that attended BYU were “required” to take a class we called “Marriage Prep”. One thing that really stood out to me in that class was when the teacher said something like this:
Do you want to know the single-most important thing in a marraige? It’s conflict resolution.
Well, let me say that that was not very romantic! And since it wasn’t what I was expecting, it stuck with me. The teacher then talked about how different any two people are. As I recall, he gave statistics even. The numbers were a little mind boggling. The message I got was: No matter how similar you think you are, you can count on having at least million differences, so you better be good at conflict resolution if you want to build a strong marriage.
Taking Out the Trash
Carrie makes the analogy of taking out the trash. Basically, whether it’s pleasant or not, taking out the trash is something you want to do regularly or it will build up and you’ll have a really stinky mess that demands attention. The same thing’s true with conflict resolution. It just needs to be done regularly … or you’ll have a really stinky emotional mess to deal with.
In my marriage, I’ve found that using the Nonviolent (or Compassionate) Communication technique has benefited us tremendously when it comes to conflict resolution. The underlying belief is that everyone’s needs can be met, and if you connect with another person at the heart and need level, positive strategies come to mind that help get everyone’s needs met.
One thing I love about this method is that there’s NO BLAMING VOCABULARY and the focus is on CURIOSITY. You get curious about how you’re feeling and what you need then you get curious about what the other person is feeling and needing and then you strategize. No blaming. No criticism. Great results!
Here’s a link to learn about the basics if you’re ready to learn about it right now. Otherwise, I’ll share the basics and some examples of how I’ve applied them next week.
How does this apply to home evening? Well, the closer your marriage is (if you’re married), the better your FHEs tend to go. And the better you are at being curious, connecting with people at a heart level, and coming up with great strategies that help meet everyone’s needs, the better you’ll be at creating …
Happy Home Evenings!