Phebe Brako-Owusu, LMFT
Marriage Monday: The Art of Listening and Being Present
Communication is the key to any good partnership or relationship. If you are not communicating with your spouse, then you are missing out on a lot that could be beneficial to your relationship; it is how we will know what our spouse needs, what our spouse thinks, and where they are coming from. Listening therefore is one of the most important skills in a relationship. It’s a skill we all must learn and cultivate, but few couples think about listening as a relationship builder. Listening to your partner is an act of love and respect. Listening helps each other grow as individuals, which means you're helping each other grow together in your relationship.
If you want to become better at listening, try this exercise: Make sure both partners start from an open- minded place by asking questions instead of giving advice or telling them what they should do or thinking about how you would feel if someone else did something similar to what they're describing (or even worse!). Then just listen! Listen to your spouse with the goal of understanding both what direction he/she is going and how their approach is making you feel. This can be tough, because it is tempting to start explaining your thoughts and feelings right away. But always remember, listening is the most important part of effective communication.
A powerful way to connect in relationships is by being present with empathy and compassion. One of the best ways to keep your relationship healthy and strong is by showing physical affection. It could be as simple as holding hands, hugging, kissing, sitting close to each other at dinner or dancing in the kitchen, or it could mean taking a night off from caring for the kids just to hold each other. You can also try surprise dates, anniversary cards or texts that are full of love and affection. Physical affection is important to show your partner that you care about them.
Even with our very busy schedules and tasking responsibilities, it is very important to make time to show physical affection. A gentle kiss on the forehead or cheeks before you walk out the door in the morning might seem like a routine or ordinary but it might be what keeps your partner together on a very hectic day. You can always be physical in public so long as it is appropriate and you use your discretion. Even if you are sick, don't forget to give them kisses on their cheek or forehead!
It’s so important to remember that marriage is a relationship. This means you have to take time out to enjoy each other and have fun together. Now, it doesn’t always mean you need expensive things or fancy vacations; it just means finding ways to do things that make each other happy, It is the simple things that matter and those memories stay forever. Use these tips my husband and I use daily.
● Plan an monthly date night where you go somewhere special (or even not so special)
● Make time for regular date nights with each other even if it's just going for coffee together after
work or a road trip
● Watch movies together on the couch and snuggle close (no phones allowed!)
It’s a great time to love and be loved. Making your marriage a priority is going to help you build a strong and happy one.