(StatePoint) For married couples, it may sometimes seem difficult to remember the early, exciting stages of the relationship. While bickering, stress and general ruts are certainly not uncommon, some experts say such pitfalls are mostly avoidable.
“Love may be the reason you got married in the first place, but it’s not always enough,” says Ashley Davis Bush, a psychotherapist, Huffington Post blogger and co-author of “75 Habits for a Happy Marriage.” “Habits that promote intimacy and good connection will help to sustain your marriage over the long haul.”
As Bush explains in her new book, co-written with her husband, Daniel Arthur Bush, a mental health counselor, the key to staying connected and in love in long-term relationships is to form simple, positive habits that can be integrated into your daily routine.
Here are a few ideas offered in “75 Habits” that can help you and your spouse avoid conflict and promote happiness:
• Wake and greet: When you first wake up in the morning, let your spouse know that he or she is special to you. Say this in person if possible. If not, text it, email it, leave a phone message or stick a note to the refrigerator. How you greet your spouse in the morning sets the tone for the day.
• Stay connected: When you are separated in a crowd, at a party or even at home amidst kids, use an earlobe tug or other secret gesture to say “we’re in this together”. “Highlighting your special and unique connection with a sign known only to the two of you,” says Bush, “increases your feelings of intimacy.”
• Be nostalgic: Before going on a “date,” spend a few moments bringing back the feelings of your courtship. You might try remembering your first kiss, for example. “Deliberately reviving those heady feelings from the past infuses the present with old-fashioned romance,” says Ashley Davis Bush.
• Make enthusiasm a habit: When you reunite at the end of the day, do it with excitement and a 20 second hug. An extended hug stimulates the bonding hormone oxytocin. Stop what you’re doing for this reunion and let your partner know that he or she is a priority. This intentional hug beats the rote, “Hi honey I’m home.”
• Remember gratitude: Every night as you get ready for bed, thank your spouse for something they said or did during the day. A focus on appreciation at the end of the day not only puts a smile on your mate’s face but also helps you finish the day with gratitude for your spouse. “Gratitude is habit forming” says Bush.
For more happy habits, visit, www.AshleyDavisBush.com.
It’s easy to take your relationship for granted and even slip into bad habits. But by recharging and reconnecting every day, you can keep your marriage healthy and happy.