How to Create or Maintain “Feel Good” Habits in Your Marriage
Everyone knows we should all be striving to have healthy habits in our daily lives, and we also know the struggle that can sometimes be. It’s hard! Habits are little behaviors, routines, or rituals we do on a regular basis – sometimes they just kind of happen over time, and other times we’ve worked to make it happen. In addition to the healthy habits we have, we also likely have some unhealthy ones that we try to break. That is also hard! In this blog you’ll notice some links with articles and tools to help you along. I’ve been doing marriage and relationship counseling for over 20 years and these resources have served me and the couples I’ve worked with well.
We most often think of habits when it comes to things like lifestyle: nutrition and exercise, or maybe even more relevant these days, work life, specifically productivity as so many of us have transitioned to working from home. However, there’s another part of life that can benefit from healthy habits – your relationships! And specifically, your marriage.
Healthy habits give us structure and consistency, and when shared with someone, there’s a bond or sense of togetherness that is nurtured with every little ritual we accomplish. We know togetherness is important for our relationships because it helps us feel connected to each other.
Habits can vary in size and effort – some feel huge and like it will take a long time to establish, while others are small, sometimes even feeling insignificant because they’re so effortless. But those little habits that simply make us feel good are so easy to implement into our lives. “Feel good” habits are likely already happening in your marriage. Identify things you already do that are small, routine, and make you feel good about your relationship – little things that give you a sense of connection on a daily or weekly basis.
Wondering how to identify them? Here are a few questions to prompt you:
Do you do anything before you and your spouse part ways for the day?
Do you do anything for your spouse in the morning or evening to make their day lighter/easier? Does your spouse do anything for you?
Do you have a daily or weekly activity you do together that you look forward to because it makes you feel good?
Is there anything you or your spouse regularly say to one another that creates an immediate moment of connection?
Hopefully you were able to identify a “Feel Good” habit or two from thinking through those questions! But who doesn’t want more of these moments in their marriage every day or week? Here are three ways to create some feel good habits in your marriage:
Do something for your spouse, consistently. This could be something like making them a cup of tea each night or making them coffee or a protein shake while they’re getting ready for work in the morning. It doesn’t even have to be daily. Maybe it’s filling up their car with gas or taking it through the car wash every weekend. The idea is that it’s something small they could do for themselves, but the fact that you do it for them routinely will make you both feel good.
Consume content together. We all likely watch, read, and listen to a lot of content every day. There is no shortage of things to consume. Our encouragement here is to find something you both enjoy and designate it as the thing you consume together. Maybe it’s a TV show you’ve always wanted to watch, or a new book to read, or even a weekly podcast. The point here is to resist the urge to binge it on your own, and only let yourselves consume it when you can do it together. It will give you something to look forward to, as well as a chance to experience something together.
Establish a parting ritual. Figure out something you can do each time you part ways – whether that’s when you each go to your own corner of the house to work, or if that’s literally walking out the door each morning. And keep it up beyond when you leave for work, do this each time you leave your spouse for a period of time. For some it’s a classic kiss and “I love you,” but it can be quirkier or weirder too – whatever phrase or small touch you want to do that fits your unique relationship and makes you both feel good.
My prayer is by identifying and creating “Feel Good” habits in your marriage, it will help you feel more connected to each other while also adding some structure and consistency to your daily lives. Share your favorite “feel good” habits in the comments below!