Some thoughts on building a successful marriage
From my perspective, once you enter into the realm of marriage, building and maintaining a successful marriage is actually a big part of personal and financial success. A solid marriage not only results in people sharing resources together, but a marriage also provides a lot of emotional support, cheerleading, and encouragement to succeed.
What follows are twelve little things I do quite regularly in my marriage. Please, use as many of these as seem reasonable.
I tell my wife I love her every single day. I usually do it in the morning before she leaves the bedroom, and on weekdays I'll also tell her when I see her in the evening for the first time. I usually couple it with a kiss. It's so simple, but it's a constant reminder of the fact that I do love her, no matter what.
I ask about her day, listen, and ask follow up questions. I do this not only so I can keep tabs on her professional life, but also to give her a great chance to vent about her situation. Everyone needs to talk about themselves sometimes to someone who is interested - I try to provide that for her as often as I can.
I try to surprise her on a regular basis. I'll spend an hour preparing a really excellent supper when she doesn't expect it. I'll spontaneously give the kids a bath when she's comfortable on the couch under a blanket, even if it's her turn. Doing these little unexpected things not only shows her I care, but also often compels her to do similar things for me.
I hold her hand. I do this all the time, whenever it crosses my mind and seems appropriate. I'll just hold her hand gently while we're talking or we're riding in the car or we're waiting for an appointment or we're sitting on the
couch in the evenings.
I talk about EVERYTHING with her and let her determine what's interesting. If something is concerning me, I don't hide it from her. I tell her about it. Most of the time she's interested and we'll discuss it - sometimes she's not and I let it drop (this is key - if she's not into the topic, I don't push it). Either way, though, she gets the message that I'm making an effort to share and be open.
I work on building a positive relationship with her family. Whenever I visit or see anyone in her family, I make a special effort to try to establish or build upon a strong relationship with them. This accomplishes several things: it makes her more at ease in a family situation, it helps me to build stronger ties with people that are important to her, and it helps me to understand the influences that were around her as she grew up.
I send her messages during the day.
About once a week, during a time where my wife is really present in my thoughts, I send her a little simple note by email. All it says is something along the lines of "I was thinking about you just now. I can't wait until I see you this evening." It's just a very simple way of letting her know she's on my mind and in my heart.
I put careful thought into gifts I give her. Sure, it's easy to just run out and get a generic gift to cover yourself during an anniversary or a birthday. However, a gift with some real thought behind it means substantially more than an obviously off-the-cuff gift.
I encourage her to follow her passions and interests, even if they don't inspire or interest me. If my wife chooses to spend significant time on a project, it's obviously something that's important to her. That doesn't imply at all that it has to be important to me. If she's involved in her own project, I give her positive encouragement and then work on my own interests instead of saying things like "that seems like a waste of time."
If she needs me, I willingly contribute to those passions. If something genuinely excites her and she wants me to experience it, I willingly involve myself in whatever it may be: a particular type of art, a craft project, a yard project, whatever. Even if I don't enjoy it, I do have the opportunity to learn more about my wife and what she's passionate about, which means that my understanding of her grows.
I look for opportunities to build mutual friendships. The idea that there is a group of people that are "my" friends and another group that is "her" friends can be a big dividing factor between us. Instead, I often focus on building friendships and relationships that we share with others so that something of a community of friendship and love grows up around us.
I hold her every night, even if it's just for a moment. I might be completely exhausted when I go to bed in the evening, but I take a moment to move close to her, put my arm around her, and hold her close, even if it's just for a minute or so. That moment of physical contact to end the day is a simple sign of love.