When I meet with a couple for marriage counseling, there are usually two things I can be sure I will say. One is that there are things you are doing that you need to stop. Two, there are things you are doing that need to change. There are wrong actions, and there are misguided actions.
Lately, I am adding something new to my list of instructions. People need to know there are things they are NOT doing that are hurting their relationship. Stuff like …
1. Not Spending Quality Time Together. There are two parts to this concept. The first is that you need time together. One person running one way and the other going a different direction is a set up for a split. The other side of that concept is that it needs to be quality time. You need to listen, talk, kiss, touch and share your lives in deeply intimate ways.
2. Not Communicating. When I sit down with someone and ask them about their problems with their spouse, they can usually give me two or three items of disagreement. Quite often the other person will say, “I never knew.” Open communication is vital to every relationship but is most significant in a marriage.
3. Not Speaking Their Love Language. Gary Chapman introduced a new idea when he wrote about Love Languages years ago. The basic concept is that each of us feels and receives love in one of five primary ways: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. I am convinced that if you ignore your spouse’s language and focus on your own, eventually the spouse will search for love elsewhere. You need to be aware of how your spouse feels love.
4. Not Doing Anything to Connect. This is a little different from quality time. Quality time is spent alone away from the crowds on a date night or vacation. A connection is about doing something together like a hobby or activity. This can range from watching movies to sports to hiking to whatever. Find something to do together that you both enjoy. Become a team by working together doing something you find fun.
5. Not Putting Your Phone Down. I have heard hundreds of people say this and heard numerous jokes about being on your phone too much. Still, I see very little change in many people’s lives. Once upon a time, you could do something, and you were out of touch. Now we feel this need to be open to interruptions at all times. They do not need to talk to you now. That text can wait. Put the phone away, put it on vibrate, or better yet just shut it off. Focus your attention on this one person when you are together.
There are other things I might add to this list. You are probably not be listening to the other person, and you are might not be together spiritually. There are several possible things you might not be doing that are hurting your marriage. These are five of the biggest ones I see that are slowly hurting marriages. I suggest you spend time this week doing things that improve your relationships and move beyond your inaction.