Why do you always need to work to improve your marriage whether it’s struggling or already going well?
And what’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics got to do with your marriage?
My marriage mentor, John Gottman, PHD, explains why you always need to be working on improving your relationship and how the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to all marriages like this:
“In closed energy systems things tend to run down and get less orderly, the same seems to be true of closed relationships like marriages. My guess is that if you do nothing to make things get better in your marriage but do not do anything wrong, the marriage will still tend to get worse over time. To maintain a balanced emotional ecology you need to make an effort—think about your spouse during the day, think about how to make a good thing even better, and act.”
So let’s take a look at some easy marital habit upgrades to deepen your connection with your husband.
You’ve got the power. Use it.
One of you can always bring the two of you closer together and strengthen your relationship.
If you’re thinking “I’m always the one doing all the work,” you may be right. But so what?
You’re the one reading this blog post and thinking about what small habits you can easily incorporate in your day to deepen your connection.
Use the power of your awareness, thoughtfulness and willingness to lead to influence your husband positively.
If you think that seems unfair, if you play the “it takes two to tango” game, I see you. I’ve been there and done that. In my first marriage. It didn’t work out so well.
My mistaken belief.
I kept leaning on the mistaken belief that we must work on the relationship together to improve it. In unison. In partnership. We each had to do our part or it was hopeless.
And if we didn’t, well then, we’ll just be locked in a stalemate indefinitely. Hey, see how much you like that!
But I was wrong. This seemingly correct belief undermined my happiness and I couldn’t even see how it was hurting me too.
I couldn’t recognize that I had the personal power to choose to become the change I wished to see in our relationship.
I didn’t understand that I could stop pacing the sidelines, waiting for him to be willing to work on our relationship. I could choose to stop fuming and complaining.
I couldn’t could choose the smallest first steps to make mini habit changes to start building a bridge of connection between us.
I didn’t understand that to shift the dynamics from adversarial to curious and willing could be a game changer. I could stop blaming him for his inaction and see my own inaction as contributing to the stress and frustration.
I didn’t realize that by taking matters into my own hands, I had the power to create a more satisfying future relationship.
It’s the little things that demonstrate caring.
It’s the daily interactions, moments enriched by connection and caring that promote closeness, intimacy, and an authentic sense of security.
Their impact adds up and leaves a lasting impression.
If you are standing on the sidelines of your relationship and waiting for your husband to get with the program, I have some hard-won advice. Don’t wait.
Galvanize your personal agency and power.
Take back control and YOU make the first move.
Try cultivating easy mini-habits.
Maybe you can use some reminders of some easy little things you can do to break a deadlock or enhance an already well-functioning marriage.
In the ebb and flow of daily living, you can establish some simple mini habits to deepen your connection. Start with some or all of these small personalized gestures. Not just once or twice, but consistently. You may be surprised at the results.
- Actually say the words “good night,” “good morning,” and “I love you.”
- Begin and end the day with a kiss, as opposed to a peck
- Hug deeply (10 seconds or longer) upon reunions, a full body hug rather than a speed hug where your bodies hardly graze each other.
- Touch affectionately in passing, just a hand placed gently on his shoulder, or sitting closely by him on the sofa counts.
- Extend eye contact with a warm smile when listening to him.
- Compliment him, even for something as simple as putting on aftershave before an evening out.
- Recognize his accomplishments, both big and small.
- Say “thank you.” A simple thank you, even for something you think is his “job,” goes a long way. Gratitude is a powerful tool for sharing your appreciation.
- Ask yourself, “How can I show my love today in some small way?” Your brain will get to work thinking of small things you can do or say that will answer that question.
- Tear up the score-sheet. Silent score-keeping whether it’s about who does more, who’s busier, more tired, more giving, more accommodating, better with money, who has more free time is a certain recipe for building up resentment and amplifying grievances. See yourself shredding it every day until it becomes a habit.
Keep the 5:1 Ratio in mind to deepen connection .
Gottman’s research findings revealed that for every negative interaction, moment of friction, argument or fight, you should counter balance that negative with 5 positive interactions, no matter how small.
He likens relationships to bank accounts. For every withdrawal, a negative interaction, you need to make five deposits, positive exchanges, to keep your “account” healthy and in the black.
That’s why it’s so important to develop many small habits and strategies to deepen your connection. 5:1 is the minimum baseline.
If you can do more, do more! It will add to your reserve of good will.
If you need more help to deepen your marital connection, let’s talk.
Don’t let discord, disagreement and frustration keep you from the caring relationship you desire.
I’m here for you. Just take the first step and contact me.