Relationships are like military missions in that they require strategy, foresight and effort. With life pulling you in different directions, it’s important to maintain your focus and know how to feed your relationship so it continues to thrive. Here are some tips, techniques and resources to help keep your relationship strong.
Work on communication skills. Strong relationships are built on effective communication. Make an effort to really listen to each other and share both positive and negative feelings to keep the environment honest and open. Some people use a phone call during the day to settle family business, so they're free to enjoy time together when they get home. Stay connected by exploring new ways to expand and improve your communication skills.
Do regular maintenance. Occasionally, take the pulse of your relationship to examine what's working, what isn't and what you both can do to strengthen your connection. Do you wish spending time together was a higher priority? Do you share the household work? Discuss the changes that will bring you into harmony and decide together on the compromises you're willing to make.
Adjust your expectations. Accept yourself, your spouse and your relationship as they exist today. It's natural to want the honeymoon phase to last forever. But people and relationships change over time, and each new milestone brings different dynamics and routines.
Create rituals. Routine and rituals can help hold a relationship together. A goodbye kiss before work, breakfast in bed with the crossword puzzle on weekends, weekly date nights or a walk after dinner are little things that, over time, become the glue in a healthy relationship.
Plan dates and surprises for each other. Romance should be an ongoing part of your relationship, not just special occasions. Take turns planning dates or other surprises to keep your relationship exciting. You could rent some kayaks, get concert tickets for your partner's favorite band, or turn your dining area into a fancy restaurant to wine and dine your partner when getting home from work. Be thoughtful in your plans and consider what your spouse enjoys.
Plan for roadblocks. You won't always agree on everything. Think about and discuss situations you know cause friction, and plan to treat one another with respect before a disagreement happens. Use “I” statements and keep your focus on the issue at hand. Get into the habit of looking for your spouse’s positive traits and showing appreciation.
Give each other space. Your relationship will be stronger and more interesting if you give your spouse time and space without you. Remember, one person can't possibly meet all your needs. Both you and your spouse must keep and nurture outside friendships and interests.
Be active together. A couple that works out together stays together. Exercising with your partner is not only a fun way to get in shape, it helps you feel better about yourselves, which, in turn, strengthens your relationship.
Know where to turn for help. Military OneSource can help provide you with resources and connect you with a confidential non-medical counselor. Additionally, military and family life counselors are available to provide non-medical counseling services. Contact information for other counseling options, such as chaplains and the Family Advocacy Program, can be found on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
No matter how you feel about the current state of your relationship, any marriage can become more satisfying if both of you are willing to work together. If the desire and commitment are there, then you and your spouse can keep your relationship fresh, strong and close. Commit to making the time to rekindle, repair or reset your relationship.