I sat down in my office last week with a couple facing a unique predicament. The wife was so frustrated with the marriage that she was almost ready to call it quits and file for divorce, but the husband had no idea there was a problem until she finally unloaded her years of frustration all at once. He was shocked to learn that she was so unhappy.
Not knowing what to do next, they agreed to sit down with me and talk through it. They both looked bewildered and exhausted.
I was intrigued by how they'd gotten themselves into this situation. I wanted to get the root of some very important questions:
How did a couple start off strong but then get into such a longterm pattern of "autopilot" causing them to drift apart? Why did one spouse bottle up years of resentment and choose not to communicate it until it reached a crisis point? How did the other spouse remain oblivious to the fact that he and his wife were growing more disconnected with each passing day?
Through the conversation, I discovered that they had stopped doing the essential habits that fuel a healthy marriage. They had stopped communicating. They had stopped investing into their relationship. Even when they were in the same room, they were in two different worlds.
I encouraged them to restart by committing to some daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals.
When a person is sick, a pill or a shot can sometimes make all the difference, but when a marriage is "sick," the prescription takes an ongoing commitment from both spouses. I gave this couple a "marriage prescription" to help them chart a course towards more health and happiness in their marriage. I'm convinced this plan will work for them and it will also work for you.
Regardless of where you are in the current state of your relationship with your husband or wife, this marriage prescription help get on the right track and stay on the right track. Give it a try!
Every healthy marriage needs a daily dose of communication and physical touch. Take thirty minutes a day (at least) with no electronics or distractions and communicate with each other while also touching. This can happen through a simple act like a foot rub, back rub, holding hands or having your arm around your spouse's shoulder. The touching combined with the talking brings a daily reconnection on both a physical and emotional level. Keep investing into your friendship with each other!
Once a week, go on a date. It doesn't have to be lavish or expensive, but you need to make plans to go somewhere together alone (without kids). Explore something new. Go on a walk and hold hands. Dream about the future. Just enjoy each other's company. Make "date night" a priority every week!
Once a month, create one new shared goal together. It could be a financial goal (like debt reduction or saving for a specific purchase). It could be a health goal (like losing weight or training for a 5K race). It could be related to any part of life, but make it a goal you can share together and then put a specific time limit on meeting the goal and plan the celebration when you reach it. If you're planning one new goal a month, this should also add at least one new "celebration" per month to your marriage as you meet your goals.
At least once a year, plan a trip together. Put in on the calendar and enjoy the process leading up to it. Always have something to look forward to! Take a cruise, visit a foreign country, hike part of the Appalachian trail, go watch your favorite sports team play out of town, or do whatever you two are into. Just do it together! Keep making new memories!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.