Branding Our Life

Relationships

Three Free & Easy Ways to Build Intimacy in Your Marriage

Intimacy- Holding Hands

As I revealed in a past post, I wasn’t exactly a natural at marriage. Few people are, I suppose. The good news is people can grow and change! My husband and I have spent the last few years building intimacy in our marriage. We’ve boiled our “research” down to a few incredibly easy ways to start building intimacy.

Hugging

Yes. I’m serious. Just hear me out. As odd as it sounds, I was listening to the radio one day and there was a story about how hugging can actually improve your health. It piqued my interest so I came home and did some more reading. I found articles like this that discuss the health benefits of hugging. Which lead me to articles like this that tout the benefits of cuddling with our partners. Essentially, hugging and cuddling trigger the release of oxytocin, which plays a role in social bonding.

I decided to give it a try. What did we have to lose? I made a point of intentionally hugging my husband every day. We also started carving out time to cuddle more often. As silly as it may seem, I genuinely felt more bonded to my husband due to my “experiment.” It quickly became our favorite part of the day.

Showing Interest

It’s amazing how something as simple as asking your mate, “How was your day?” goes a long way. We live in a big world and it’s easy to feel like you get lost in the shuffle. Coming home to someone who is genuinely interested in your well being is refreshing.

To take things a step further, my husband and I make a point of asking about each other’s passions, hobbies, and interests. My husband loves sports, theoretical physics, and heavy metal. Three things I’d never really thought about. I’m passionate about wedding planning, cooking, and blogging. Three things he’s not too keen on. However, in an effort to support each other, we ask one another questions and learn new things all the time.

Speaking Their “Love Language”

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages.” Basically, it boils down the essence of how people feel loved into five main categories: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. You can take the free quiz here.

We took the test and discovered I am a “quality time” kind of girl and he’s a “words of affirmation” kind of guy. So what does that look like for our marriage? We’re insanely busy. However, no matter how crazy our schedules get, my husband chisels out time for us to have a few quality moments every day. I love it! Since I know my husband feels loved through words, I write him a little note every week to tell him how much I love him, compliment something he’s succeeded at, or thank him for something he’s done. In fact, just last night he thanked me for the notes and told me he appreciates every single one.

The Takeaway

Life gets crazy. Money gets tight. People don’t always have the time (or the money/energy/opportunity) for candlelight dinners or walks on the beach to kindle intimacy. However, simple things like hugging or cuddling, showing interest, and speaking each other’s love language can get the ball rolling.

What about you? I’m always interested in hearing other people’s “secret sauce” to healthy relationships. Let me know in the comments below.

The Three Pieces of Advice that Transformed My Marriage

Marriage Heart

When I first got married, nothing was the way I expected to be. Ironically, since I am a wedding coordinator, I felt I had very realistic expectations of life after marriage. I’d seen so many people assume life would be all moonlight and roses only to wake up to the hard realization that marriage was a lot of work. I’m sad to say, I’ve seen more than one of my couples get divorced over the past nine years.

Anyway, like I said, since I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of weddings and married life, I felt I had a good grip on the whole “marriage” thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. New town, new job, new marriage, financial concerns, a run down fixer-upper in dire need of fixing up. All the change and stress crashed over me; I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. The result? I was cold and nasty. Who did I take it out on? My husband.

I can only imagine how my husband must have felt. There he was expecting to start a beautiful new journey with the woman he loved, and he got bitterness, resentment, and criticism instead.

It’s hard to admit, but if it weren’t for a few sound pieces of advice, my marriage would have ended before it had a chance to start.

Practice Love

Once upon a time, before I was married, I had to take a marriage class in school. I honestly don’t recall anything from the course. However, as I was unpacking some boxes, I came across my school notebook. In it I found a note that said,

Practice Love. Loving well is a skill. And like any other skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

In that moment, I realized I wasn’t very good at loving my husband. I certainly hadn’t “practiced” it. It struck me that we train for marathons, practice athletics, art, music, and so many other things to become better at them. Why not give loving well a try?

What “practicing love” looked like for me was encouraging my husband rather than criticizing him. Communicating with him in a way he related to. Having fun with him. Showing an interest in the things he’s passionate about.

The more I did it, the easier it got. I started to enjoy my marriage for the first time.

Look for the Positive

One day as I was thinking about my marriage, a scene from the movie Pollyanna came to mind. For those who have seen it, it’s the part where Pollyanna happens upon the local minister practicing his preaching for Sunday. It was a real hell fire type of sermon. Pollyanna engaged the minister in a conversation about why he was so hard on the congregation. She shared this quote with him,

If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.

As I pondered that quote, I realized I had only focused on the bad things about my new life. I’d never considered what I had to be thankful for. From then on I started taking time out of every day to list the things I loved about my husband, our life, our little fixer-upper, etc. I married the kindest, funniest, most generous person I’ve ever met. How had I not stopped to think about that?

The more I accentuated the positive, the more I loved our life together. I only wish I had done it sooner.

We’re Teammates, Not Enemies

The last bit of marriage-altering advice actually came from my husband. One night I was being particularly harsh. My husband sat there taking my barrage of nastiness. When I finally stopped, he said this,

I wish you saw us as teammates rather than enemies. That’s why I married you. So we could do life together.

Tears flowed down my cheeks. He was right. The person who loved me more than anything in this world was sitting right in front of me. We promised to be on each other’s team until death do us part. It was time I started acting like it.

As I started acting on those bits of advice, things got better. And it still gets better every day. I continue to practice love, meditate on what I have to be thankful for, and approach life as my husband’s teammate. It didn’t just transform my marriage, it transformed me. For that, I am truly grateful.