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Published on May 1, 2020

15 Pieces of Best Marriage Advice All Couples Need

15 Pieces of Best Marriage Advice All Couples Need

Being in a successful relationship is the goal for most, if not all, couples. It would be marvelous to receive a manual with the best marriage advice on how to go about creating a strong and desired union.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You and your partner are left to navigate those often turbulent waters on your own. But I have good news for you!

In this article, I will provide you with 15 essential pieces of advice that, if implemented, will aid you in solidifying and strengthening even the rockiest of marriages.

Some of the advice may seem simplistic but don’t let the simplicity fool you. It is the simplicity that guarantees success.

So, let’s begin…

1. Do Small Things

If you want to have a slam-dunk kind of marriage, forget the big gestures (i.e., dinners at five-star restaurants, a diamond in the champagne glass, a trip to Bermuda, etc.).

No! As enticing as those may seem, they are short-term investments. If you want to have an incredible marriage, focus on the small, daily things. They may seem meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but those small gestures will create a trail of memories that will keep you warm in the coldest of nights.

What do I mean by small things?

It’s bringing your spouse something they need before they realize they need it. It’s pouring them a cup of coffee before you pour your own. It’s making the bed before they get out of the shower, or turning it down before they come to bed.

Those simple, seemingly insignificant things, are huge. They spell L O V E. They are an investment in your marriage. Don’t underestimate their importance.

2. Become Best Friends

Remember when you were in high school? You used to share everything with your best friend. If anything happened, good or bad, you’d call them to let them know. If there was anything on your mind, you’d pick up the phone and spend long hours talking.

Your spouse needs to become your best friend. Make them the person with whom you want to share your life. Then share it whether good, bad, or indifferent.

In her article, Being best friends with your spouse isn’t just a cliché—it could actually have some science-backed benefits, Sara Hendricks writes:[1]

“When investigating the role of friendship in marriage, researchers also found that the benefits of marriage are even greater when people thought they had a friend in their marriage.”

According to John F. Helliwell, an author on the study:[2]

“The well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend.” “These benefits are on average about twice as large for people whose spouse is also their best friend.”

3. Lend an Ear

One thing we all love is to have someone who will listen when we have a problem.

In her article, Sometimes Lending an Ear is the Best Gift, Jennifer Preyss, writes:[3]

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“They weren’t seeking a solution to their problem. No, what they were seeking was an emotional release. They wanted to share and vent.”

In order to comfort someone, it’s not necessary to solve their problem. Quite often the best thing to do is just to listen.

If you are a woman, you may want your husband to listen, not to necessarily solve anything. If you’re a man reading this, you might be saying, “But I must solve the problem for my sweetie.” I am sure that you think you do. But frequently, the best thing to do is lend an ear, nod your head, and say, “It’s going to be OK.”

We all just want to be heard.

Lending an ear will go a long way into making your marriage stronger. Your spouse will know they can come to you at any time and talk to their heart’s content. That, believe it or not, is a gift.

4. Write a Love Letter

You’re probably asking right now, “Write a love letter? What do you mean?”

I know, times have changed. You’re used to texting, emailing, or just picking up your phone. But I happen to feel that there’s nothing more romantic than receiving a love letter in the mail.

It may be old-fashioned, but it is truly romantic. No one who receives a love letter is going to say, “What the heck is this?” Nope. They are going to read it, savor the words, and save that letter forever.

For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband wrote me a love letter every day for 14 days, starting on February 1st, and left it in places he knew I’d find it. What a beautiful way to start my day. Better than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. Because long after the chocolate and flowers are gone, the letters will still remain!

Don’t allow technology to rob you of writing out your feelings on a piece of rose-scented paper!

Allow me to share an example with you—a letter written by Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera. Tell me this does not give you goosebumps.

“Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. You are the mirror of the night. The violent flash of lightning. The dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. My fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.”

Obviously, your letters don’t have to be on this level. This isn’t meant to deter you. It’s meant to inspire you.

Just write what you feel. That will be plenty good enough. Happy writing!

5. Forgo the Last Piece

One way to show love and create warm, loving feelings is to forgo the last piece.

Imagine there’s a chocolate chip cookie on the table—the last one. You know it’s your honey’s favorite. Do you eat it, or do you let them have it?

If you want to make your relationship great, let them have it. That gesture will not be forgotten. It shows how much you care and what sacrifices you are willing to make (especially if you want the cookie just as much as they do).

I know giving up the last piece of food seems bleh. But let me tell you, it speaks volumes. It says I love you in a deep and subtle way.

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6. Take Care of Yourself

When you first got married, you probably looked your best. Better than you ever have. But what happens over time?

You might become comfy, and stop really caring about how you look. Maybe you’ve put on some weight. Or maybe you don’t dress up anymore because you don’t think you have to.

But why not? You want to see your spouse looking their best, right? That means they want you to look your best. It’s only fair.

In his article, For a Strong Relationship, First Take Care of Yourself, Scott Christian writes:[4]

“There’s a lot to be said in a marriage, or in a committed relationship, for taking care of each other. But more often than not, relationships that run into stormy weather do so because the people in it aren’t taking care of themselves. This seems fairly straightforward, that living your life in total emotional disarray will inevitably drag down your partner, and yet it’s surprising how often couples forget it. Let yourself go, and the odds are pretty good your relationship is going to go too.”

So what are some ways in which you can take care of yourself?

You can eat well, exercise, and give up any deadly habits so you can be there for your partner in your later years when you’ll need each other the most.

Give each other the gift of you, in the best way possible.

7. Pay Compliments

When you first start dating, you may have complimented your partner often. Over time, you might start to take them for granted and think, “They already know how I feel. Why do I have to say it?”

Why? Because it feels good to hear it.

It’s a reminder to your partner that you think they’re tremendous, that you’re happy you’re with them. You can compliment your spouse on so many things: the delicious meal they cooked, the way they wear a certain outfit, how sweet they were for giving up the last piece for you (see #5 above); your appreciation for all they do to make your relationship special, etc.

I know for a fact you love to be complimented. Your spouse does too. If you haven’t been doing that, watch the surprised and delighted expression on their faces when you do.

Kim Leatherdale, in her article, The Power of Compliments in Your Relationship, writes:[5]

“Compliments are important to give to anyone, even a stranger; however, in a relationship they are doubly critical. Compliments show respect and are a fundamental building block of intimacy. Compliments show your partner that you appreciate them, see the awesome things they do, and recognize the good in them. This builds connection and helps your partner feel like they are seen, noticed, and loved.”

8. Lend a Helping Hand

From experience, I can tell you that you will feel really close to your spouse when you follow this little piece of advice.

Allow me to illustrate.

You’re in the middle of making the bed. Your honey shows up out of nowhere and starts helping. The job is done in half the time. No going back and forth around the bed. Or let’s say you’re doing the dishes and your spouse shows up, picks up a towel, starts drying and putting things away.

What a help! You would feel so appreciative. There are a million little things like this.

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Look for ways to help your spouse. It could be folding the laundry, housework, taking over parental duties (if applicable); doing a store run, etc. The list is endless.

How could you stay angry or feel bad about a partner that is always finding ways to help you?

9. Start and End the Day with a Kiss!

You might be wondering why this is important. It may seem like such a trivial act, but kissing is intimate; it’s endearing. And many couples don’t do it often enough, especially after they’ve been married for a while.

I’ve talked to many people who’ve told me they don’t ever kiss their spouses. It’s non-existent in their relationship. But there is much value in a kiss.

In 10 Reasons Why Kissing Is SO Important In A Relationship, the author, Lisa, writes:[6]

“The value of a kiss is so important because it shows passion, intimacy, desire and how much you adore a person. It can reduce stress and help with anxiety as well. It is very important in lovemaking and marriage. The passion and all the other stuff can get lost in your everyday life of work and kids when you are married. It is important to kiss and keep the spark alive in your relationship. It is important to show your partner how much they mean to you. A quick kiss before you go to work can go a long way and mean more than you know.”

Kissing can be playful, loving, and passionate. It’s a way to let your partner know everything is okay. It relays feelings without having to say a word.

Kissing doesn’t just have to be in the morning or before bedtime. If you want to spice things up, surprise your spouse with a lingering kiss. You’re going to knock them off their feet!

10. Take Walks Together

One of my favorite things to do is to take walks with my husband. It is a relaxing time in which we share our day, discuss important matters, or simply chit chat about what’s going on in the world.

There are multiple benefits to going on those long walks. Not only are you outside getting fresh air, but you’re also exercising as a couple and bonding just by talking with each other.

If you and your partner incorporate daily walks, your relationship is sure to grow stronger. It’s a wonderful way to connect, and one that is sure to bring you closer.

Working out together is also another great way to cement your relationship. According to the article, 10 Surprising Benefits of Working Out as a Couple, “couples exercising together strengthen both their bodies and relationship.”[7]

11. Be the Yin to Their Yang

You and your partner are not identical twins. If you don’t believe me, look in the mirror. In fact, you probably chose someone very different from yourself. That’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want to be married to you, would you?

In your differences, there are opportunities to expand and grow. Sharing your points of view with each other can be quite enlightening. You may not always agree, but being open will allow you to learn new ways of being.

For example, your husband may be very spontaneous, and you more on the conservative side. Each of you can benefit from each other’s distinct personalities. There will be times when being spontaneous is an asset, and there will be times when you’ll be glad you were conservative.

Instead of tearing you apart, differences can add another layer to your relationship and yourself.

12. Share Quiet Moments

While you might imagine that getting close to your partner means always doing something together, that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes all that is needed is to share some quiet moments together.

Sitting in the same room reading, listening to music, or just working on crafty projects side by side can be relaxing and fun. You don’t need to carry on a conversation, just sharing the same space is good enough.

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Look for ways to share that quietude. Enjoy each other’s presence by just being present.

13. Check in With Each Other Throughout the Day

This is an easy thing to do and very rewarding. Checking in with your spouse throughout the day lets them know that you are thinking of them.

They don’t have to be long conversations. A simple text with a heart emoji, or a, “Thinking of you!”; a call just to say, “How’re you doing?” is a substantial way to stay in touch.

Keep your spouse informed of when you’ll be home, and let them know you can’t wait to see them.

Even as I write this, it seems so simple, not even worth the bother. But on the contrary, it is a terrific way to let your spouse know they’re on your mind.

14. Forgive and Move On

In any relationship, someone will make a mistake. It’s inevitable. But this little piece of advice can save your relationship and allow you to move forward, and become stronger.

Forgive and move on.

Don’t hold mistakes over the person’s head like a guillotine. If they’ve genuinely apologized, accept it. If the mistake was a big one, like financial infidelity, or an affair, that will take more than an apology; perhaps additional work with an unbiased third party.

I’m talking about the small mistakes everyone makes (i.e., breaking a favorite personal item, not remembering your birthday or anniversary, forgetting to take out the trash on trash day, etc.). I’m referring to hurtful mistakes, not catastrophic ones.

Believe it or not, some people hang on to small slights forever. Don’t be that person. Talk about it, forgive the mistake, and move on. There’ll always be more mistakes, so don’t allow them to accumulate.

15. Compromise

This piece of advice is very important. A relationship involves two people.

Each with a different point of view. When one of you refuses to budge, it can cause hurt feelings and resentment. The art of compromise is especially valuable.

One, it shows that you’re open. Two, it shows that you love your partner and are willing to take a look at their needs. Three, your willingness to bend demonstrates that you can put your partner’s needs before yours.

What better way to strengthen your relationship? And isn’t that what you want?

Final Thoughts

Relationships can be challenging, but with the above 15 pieces of advice, you are making them less so.

You are presenting your partner with the best pieces of who you are, and in turn, making them feel loved and wanted.

You don’t need a Masters Degree to implement the above-mentioned simple techniques. All you need is the willingness to love yourself and your partner.

The rewards will be priceless; your relationship will be more enjoyable.

More Marriage Advice:

Featured photo credit: photo-nic.co.uk nic via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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