Do you think about your marriage? Are you comfortable with your marriage? Is something missing? Are you bored or unhappy or both?
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I have a feeling that many couples, if not most, rarely talk about their marriage. If I am right, the spouse doesn’t know what the partner feels about their marriage.
• Relationships have positive results when people are communicating. How can a marriage grow or move forward if no one knows what the other person is thinking or feeling?
• When is the last time you turned off the TV, the radio, and the telephone to make time for discussing the quality of your marriage? To discuss marriage, your marriage, you need a quiet environment with no interruptions. Realistically, if you have children at home, you need to recruit a friend or relative to watch the kids while you get away to a quiet, private location.
• When you create the quiet environment, you may want to consider asking your spouse the following questions:
— Is there anything you want to change about our marriage?
— Do I have a habit that irritates you or makes you angry?
— Are you OK or happy with our marriage?
— Do you still love me?
• Don’t settle for one- or two-word answers to your questions. Ask your spouse to elaborate on the responses.
• A happy marriage needs a few surprises and some creative changes to combat addictive routine and boredom.
• When is the last time you took an impulsive drive or a non-well-thought-out vacation? Do you ever surprise each other with unexpected flowers or an unplanned dinner or show date? Do you touch each other anymore? When is the last time you sat next to each other on a sofa and hugged each other? A surprise kiss on the back of the neck is appreciated, and it’s fun. Any massage is enjoyed. When is the last time you gave your spouse a massage?
• When a marriage is tired, impulse never occurs. Touching is almost non-existent and compliments are rare, if ever. A tired marriage spends hours watching TV, which requires very little or no discussions. Spouses never sit next to each other, and intimacy passed away … a long time ago.
• When boredom and routine rule a marriage, sexual intimacy fades away. Sexual intimacy is not discussed or practiced in a marriage of convenience. Sexual intimacy is a reward of a loving, kind relationship — not an obligation.
• I recommend a daily, quiet discussion-time for couples. You can’t really discuss anything in a noisy environment. Wait until the kids are down.
• If your spouse is unable or not willing to communicate, be patient and encourage him/her to speak. Being a patient, active listener is something that can be learned and taught.
• I believe joy can be ageless. What is better than a happy, fulfilling relationship?
• Don’t settle for a so-so marriage that applauds routine and avoids communication of any intimate subject. There is nothing more important than being loved. Being liked is not the same as being loved.
Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.