There is no such thing as the "perfect" marriage. I don't think anyone is going to disagree with me on that. I venture to guess that very few married couples would describe their partnership as perfect. And, in my opinion, that's actually a good thing.
Perfect marriages are a fallacy. They are dreamed up in your mind and not based on reality. Most spousal partnerships, like any other relationship, have their ups and their downs, their peaks and their valleys, their triumphs and their hardships.
But, did you know that only a few minor adjustments to your marriage can result in a huge improvement? It's true and I am going to tell you what those are.
Here is what you should work on:
Small Change #1: Hug and kiss your spouse each morning
And I don't mean like a little pat on the back, but a true, tight, both arms wrapped all the way around type hug. And a kiss too. Yes, you may have morning breath, but you need four lips coming together for this to work - not a lip and a cheek or a lip and a forehead, but a meaningful and purposeful kiss. This sounds so simple, but for those who are not morning people and who typically look and act like a coffee-lacking monster before 9:00 a.m., this one may be pushing it. Remember, this is important, so please try it. Try it for a week, and then tell me if you and your spouse are not getting along better. My bet and hope is that you will be.
Small Change #2: Text less and talk more
This one can be a struggle for those that are just not talk-on-the-phone people. So many of us, myself included, prefer the convenience and ease of sending and answering text messages. The reason (aside from convenience) I think that most of us stray away from phone calls is that we are constantly transferring stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions through the phone to our partner - intentionally or unintentionally. We have come to favor and resort to texting as our primary mode of communication because nothing more than words and emojis typically transfer from one partner to the other. This is a mistake. In talking less - like actual talking -we are inevitably contributing to the weakening of our spousal intimacy and really bypassing the chance to deepen our connection.
Small Change #3: Stop complaining
No, like really, STOP COMPLAINING. All of the time both my husband and I are complaining about what the other did or did not do, or what the other did, but didn't do correctly. You are not each other's parent. You are not each other's teacher. So much time is wasted in marriages (and in friendships for that matter) on people whining and grumbling about their discontent over minuscule things. GET SOME PERSPECTIVE. Don't have any? Then find some, and don't sweat the small stuff.
Really look at each other more. Really see the other person. How do they look today? Do they look tired? Sad? Excited? Refreshed? How often do you look at your partner long enough to ask yourself these questions? How about me? I never do it. But, I should be. I definitely should be.
So often in the busy, craziness, and both the predictability and unpredictability of each day, we rush our looks at our partner. I am not even sure we see them all of the time. On a daily basis partners often see past each other to the next place they are headed. We need to stop this. We need to stare a little longer at one another. We need to look a little deeper and below the surface. We need to look with curiosity as to our partners thoughts, desires, needs, etc. Then, after we have done that, we will have something meaningful to talk about.
Small Change #5: Be slightly less confident in the security of your relationship
This one may seem counterproductive, but hear me out. You have to do this one the right way or you may not see a positive impact. What I mean by this is that for so many couples, we get too comfortable. We think "OK, this person married me, they are mine forever, they are not going to leave me no matter what I do (or don't do), it'll all work out." Right? Wrong. Totally wrong. Remember when you and your spouse were dating and you felt vulnerable, yet excited and happy, yet cautious - that is how you need to be now. That is how you need to remain throughout your relationship. When we are too confident in our relationship status, that is when we typically start to take our partner for granted.
Listen up. Yes, these are small changes and they do sound easy but they are not. They are not easy to implement day, after day, after day. In my opinion, no change is easy, even tiny ones - especially when you doubt making changes to something that is seemingly going "OK enough." Don't settle for "OK enough."
I am not trying to give you the tools for a perfect marriage - like I stated earlier, there isn't one. But, what there is and what you will achieve by making these small changes is a happy and successful marriage ... or at least one closer to that.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nicole Merritt's website. It has been republished here with permission.
Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole's work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter!