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5 Tips To Keep Sex Healthy In Your Marriage

Build intimacy, connect and do life well together.

How’d you get stuck in a sex rut? It’s just life. It’s normal and to be expected. More importantly, how do you get out? You know, fun, passionate, surprising, and playful sex!

Here are some tips to keep sex healthy, hot, and happenin’ in your marriage.

1. Talk About Sex. 

This is the gateway right here. Many people just aren’t comfortable talking about sex with their spouse. Create an environment where it’s safe for both of you to be honest and vulnerable about your sexual thoughts and feelings. Easier said than done? Probably. 

Here You Go:

Option 1. Make a game out of it. Sexual Truth Or Dare

Option 2. The internet. Is full of questions. To help couples. Get talking. About sex.

Pro-Tip: Keep it positive. No complaining. No judgments. Take turns listening.

2. But What About The Kids?

Isn’t it ironic that you (typically) have kids by having sex, but by having kids, it’s harder to have sex? Again, totally normal, but Kids-In-The-House-Sex: Quick. Muffled. Vanilla. It’s like Splenda. Sure, it’s sweet, but it’s not that pure raw sugar.

The Workaround:

Option 1. Hotel Sex. It doesn’t have to be a vacation or your anniversary. It can be because it’s Thursday and you have a babysitter. You don’t even have to go out of town or somewhere nice. Make it part of the family budget. Best money you’ll spend. Repeat a couple of times a year.

Option 2. Stay-At-Home Synchronized Sick Days. Or take vacation days. Go through your typical morning routines and dress for work. Take the kids to school or daycare like a typical weekday. Nothing going on here. Then meet back at the house. Take your time. It’s not all about sex. Talk through some “get to know you” questions. Go for a walk, then shower together. Have a great day of which sex is just a part.

Pro-Tip: Tell your spouse to take such and such day off. (Don’t tell them why. Plan a fun day.)

3. Don’t Have Sex. Yet.

Anticipation is a powerful stimulant. 

Wait For It:

Option 1. Agree to have sex in 24 hours. Spend that time flirting. Leaving love letters. Texting what you’re looking forward to doing. Engaging in some non-sexual touch. Teasing. Then, finally, pleasing.

Option 2. Same as above, but 72 hours. (Yup.) Crank up that sexual tension. Enjoy it. Don’t neglect the biggest human sexual organ — the mind. Have some great conversations. Do some fun things together. Strengthen your bond. Talk about your relationship.

Pro-Tip: Put your energy into connecting with your spouse in non-sexual ways. Pressure, or wondering if sex is on the table, is off the table. (But you know it’s coming.) Get emotionally intimate in the meantime. When you do connect sexually, it will be more profound.

4. Roll Play.

Equipment Needed: Two dice. You. Your spouse.

The Roll Rules:

Option 1. First dice: (1.) Caress. (2.) Kiss. (3.) Tickle. (4.) Lick. (5.) Nibble. (6.) Roller’s Choice. Second dice: (1.) Neck. (2.) Hands. (3.) Mouth. (4.) Chest. (5.) Tummy. (6.) ???

Roll the dice, feel something nice. Time limit per roll? Hey, this is your game.

Option 2. (I think you can see how this game lends itself to modification.) 

Pro-Tip: Roller with the highest score after 4 rounds gets to “make a request.”

5. Play Doctor.

Sorry, not THAT playing doctor. Have weekly or monthly “check-ups” or “check-ins.” Coming full circle, talking about it is the best way to improve sex and keep it healthy in your marriage. Connecting on levels beyond the physical enhances sex. Connected couples who talk about sex have more satisfying sex lives. Talk honestly about your sexual health. Discuss sexual frequency. Talk about what’s working and what might need to be modified. 

Don’t turn to the internet with questions like, “How much sex should couples have?” Turn to your spouse. Sex is best when you don’t just focus on “doing it,” but doing life well together. 

Other helpful blogs:

How Often Should We Have Sex?

7 Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Each Other to Improve Their Sex Life

3 Ways Good Communication Can Enhance Sex In Marriage

4 Reasons Why Sex Matters In Marriage

Steps to a Productive Marriage Check-In

Connect, grow, and course-correct. Your marriage will thank you!

In your marriage, have you ever:

  • Let an issue fester to the point it felt impossible to talk about?
  • Left the kids somewhere because you thought your spouse would get them?
  • Worked late and forgot an important family event?
  • Been disappointed about something but never stopped to work through it?

Staying on the same page with your spouse doesn’t happen by accident. 

Businesses have staff meetings. 

Sports have team meetings. 

And marriages need marriage meetings. We’ll call these Marriage Check-Ins.

A Marriage Check-In is when you and your spouse meet to talk about marriage and family stuff.

A Productive Marriage Check-In helps you to:

Be on one page about money, direction, schedules, concerns, expectations, etc.

This can help you avoid assuming, overscheduling, overspending, or leaving your 5-year-old daughter at home to babysit her 3-year-old brother. (I will neither confirm nor deny this occurrence.)

Address issues before they fester and become major.

Things often bother you before they make you mad. Check-ins offer regular opportunities to deal with those things when they’re (hopefully) at the “bother you” stage.

Specify a time to deal with marriage business.

Ever caught yourself discussing plans or concerns during a date? Don’t use precious date nights for marriage business. (At least not that kind of business. ; ) )

Strengthen your couple connection.

Let’s face it. You feel more like a team when you effectively communicate about the important stuff. (Read How to Communicate Better With Your Spouse for some tips.)

Hear and understand each other.

Undivided attention is GOLD in marriage. When you focus on listening and understanding each other, that’s 24-karat magic right there. (Read 3 Ways to Be a Better Listener.)

Remember the important things.

Who hasn’t forgotten a simple social engagement before? 

Steps to a Productive Marriage Check-In

Set a Time

Saturday mornings before kids need you and Sunday evenings after kids’ bedtimes are two great times. Put it on your calendar. Set the notifications. If you have to miss it, you can reschedule it right then. Weekly or every other week is a good idea, and 30 minutes is a reasonable length of time. As you get consistent with the check-ins, you may decide to do them monthly.

Parameters/Boundaries

No kids allowed. No technology except when it’s obviously adding to the value of the meeting, e.g., using your calendar or planning a date and looking up attractions. 

Environment

You’ll probably have a routine. You may discuss on Saturday mornings over coffee or sit on the couch after the kids are in bed. Occasionally, change it up. Check-in while strolling through the neighborhood or a park, driving around town, or while you’re out for breakfast. Enjoy the environment with the one you love.

Always start by Appreciating Your Spouse

Your spouse will look forward to the check-ins because they know they’ll hear something positive about themselves. Start with something like…

  • You know what I like about you? I’m gonna tell you. ___________
  • I liked when you ___________ earlier this week.
  • I noticed your ___________ yesterday.
  • When you ____________, I appreciated it. That was helpful.
  • Thank you for _______________.

Discuss upcoming schedules

Work schedule/changes, community meetings or activities, kids’ events, and social calendar all fall into this category.

Answer the questions:

  • Who’s going?
  • What’s the cost?
  • What’s the time commitment?
  • What needs to be done to prepare?
  • Are there any conflicts?

If you need to make reservations, sign forms, or contact people, clarify who will do it. 

Listen to Your Spouse’s Emotional, Mental, and Physical Needs

Generally, save this for last because it’s the most open-ended. These 3 questions are good starters. And if you use them every time, you may both start thinking about the answers beforehand.

  • How are you doing and feeling?
  • How do you feel like we are doing as a couple?
  • Are there any issues or concerns you’d like us to talk about?

What To Call It

Some of you will call it a Marriage Check-In and be good with that. More adventurous people may want a name with more personality. (Let us know what you come up with!)

Keep in mind: a productive Marriage Check-In isn’t like those never-ending staff meetings, which are a necessary evil. This is with the one you love. It’s a chance to connect, grow, and course-correct so you’ll enjoy your marriage to the fullest. 

Other helpful blogs:

What Does It Mean to Put Your Spouse First?

It starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected.

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The Puzzled Look on my daughter’s face turned to a smile, and then came the proverbial rolling of the eyes (and that’s a good thing).

Here’s the conversation:

Daughter: You’re really not going to be at our basketball game Saturday? (Said with disbelief).

Me: Nope. I’m taking my wife (who happens to be your mother) on a marriage retreat.

Daughter. Can’t y’all go anytime?

Me: Doesn’t matter. We’re going this weekend. What you worried about? 

Daughter: Nothing. I just… (Shrugs her shoulders.)

Me: If anyone asks where your parents are, just say, “At a marriage retreat acting married.”

Daughter: (Rolls the eyes)

Me: Don’t worry. We love you, and we hope you play well. But I love that fine-looking queen of mine more.

Daughter: (Walks away smiling, rolling her eyes, and I’m guessing, processing what’s just happened.)

She’s witnessing me putting her mother, a.k.a. my spouse, ahead of her. 

What does it mean to put your spouse first? 

It doesn’t mean that you miss every sporting event, never hang out with friends, or never work overtime. It starts with the heart. And your actions and thoughts will reflect the contents of your heart.

A priority is something we treat or rank as more important. Putting your spouse first above work, children, hobbies, birth family, or other responsibilities means prioritizing your spouse. It doesn’t mean we neglect work, abandon our children or don’t do the things we love. It means that we make sure our spouse knows that we value them more than we value all those other “good” things. 

Here are some ways you can demonstrate that you prioritize your spouse.

Ask Before You Make Plans

When making plans and decisions (particularly ones that affect where you spend your time, money, and energy), ask your spouse for their thoughts and opinions. This shows that you don’t want to do things that may negatively affect your spouse or marriage.

Example: Your co-workers are going out for drinks after work. You want to go. 

Prioritizing Your Spouse:

  1. Call to tell your spouse the situation.
  2. Ask how they feel about it. “What are your thoughts?”
  3. Ask how it will affect the rest of the day. “Anything happening that this will change?”
  4. Understand that turning down the offer may be the best move for your marriage.

Message Sent: Asking shows your spouse that he or she matters. Their feelings matter. How your decisions or plans affect them matters.

Pay Attention to Your Spouse’s Needs

Your husband’s or wife’s needs come first. That’s where your strongest commitment is. Be aware of how easy it is to want to help everyone else and think your spouse can handle everything themselves.

Example: It’s nearing your kids’ bedtime. They’re fussy, whiny, and being difficult. You’re having a deep, meaningful phone conversation, helping a friend.

Prioritizing Your Spouse: 

Tell your friend, “I know this is important, but it’s bedtime, and I need to jump in and help get these kids down. Let me call you back.”

Message Sent: You have your spouse’s back. Even though your friend has a pressing issue, so did your mate. You just demonstrated where your priorities lie. Jumping to help fix everyone’s problem and only helping your spouse when it’s convenient shows they aren’t the priority. We want our spouse to be the first one we support, not the last.

Consider the Impact on Your Spouse

After marriage, your life isn’t just about you. Significant changes affect you both. Be upfront with your spouse about changes and let them prepare for how it will affect them.

Example: A major project will require you to work overtime and use a lot of mental energy.

Prioritizing Your Spouse: 

Address it head-on from the moment you sense this is a major time-consuming project. Tell your spouse about the overtime and potential stress. You might say, “I don’t want you to feel neglected. As soon as it’s over, we can make up for some lost time, if you know what I mean.”

Message Sent: You’ve considered the impact on your spouse and shown some vulnerability. You’ve recognized what you will lose and indicated a desire to gain it back because you’d rather be with your spouse than work all those extra hours. 

Couples experience different seasons. You may both have heavy work seasons and superactive kids’ seasons where you feel like taxicabs. Dealing with sick family members can also pull lots of time away. 

Putting your spouse first starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected. 

That’s what my daughter took away from us missing her basketball game. 

Interestingly, research shows that putting your spouse first provides the security, comfort, and stability that helps children thrive. And, when couples put each other first, it sets the stage for a fantastic relationship where each person feels loved, supported, and secure.

OTHER HELPFUL BLOGS:

Married, yet hiding from your spouse. Such is life when you don’t feel emotionally safe in your marriage. There are parts of you, your personality, dreams, feelings, or thoughts, locked inside, unavailable to your spouse. Exposing them puts you at risk for rejection, criticism, or neglect. You don’t wanna live like this anymore. You want the freedom to be your whole self – vulnerable, imperfect, flawed, and all.

So what do you do?

Self-Check

There are two people to look at: you and your spouse. Let’s start with the easy person to look at first – you. (I know, it’s easier to look at your spouse, but you know you. You’ve been with you all your life.)

Sometimes we have our own personal barriers to being emotionally safe with others, even in marriage.

  • Traumatic event(s) in our past
  • Personal insecurities
  • The false belief that you and your spouse should always agree
  • Personal control issues
  • Past relationship experiences

Without understanding how your past experiences and current mindset may affect your ability to be totally open with someone, these barriers can hold you captive. They can cause you to go into “self-protective mode” anytime you feel challenged or feel vulnerable.

  1. Ask yourself what you may be fearful of.
  2. Talk to a friend or possibly a professional counselor.
  3. Ask your spouse for help. 
  4. Be honest with yourself and forgive yourself.
  5. Speak the truth about you to yourself. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future or define you.

Processing what holds you back emotionally can strip the past and any insecurities or control issues of their power to sabotage your relationship.

Talk to Your Spouse

Now let’s look at the second person in this equation – your spouse. When they aren’t being emotionally safe for you, what do you do? 

1. Name it.

Be aware of what you feel makes it unsafe. Do you feel talked down to, dismissed, inferior, etc.? It might be worth writing your feelings down before you talk.

2. Create an opportunity to talk.

Set aside a non-threatening time to discuss with your spouse. Without attacking or accusing (because you want to be an emotionally safe person, too), ask…

  • “What does emotional safety in our marriage mean to you?” Obviously, this may not be something your spouse has thought much about. Still, it’s a worthwhile conversation to have. A good follow up question is, 
  • “What causes you to feel emotionally unsafe?” After your spouse shares, share your answers to those questions and go from there.

3. Agree.

Work toward agreeing about what emotional safety is and why it’s a good thing. (Read 4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety to learn more.) Discuss questions like,

  • “What makes you feel safest, most free to be yourself, and willing to be totally transparent or vulnerable?”
  • “What makes you shut down and go into protection mode?

Listening to each other can help you both understand how to create a safe environment. 

Affirm what you like about each other. Remind yourselves why you wanted to marry each other. Take turns sharing the strengths each brings to the marriage. Knowing that your spouse likes you for you increases emotional safety. 

Model

You’ve probably heard the golden rule: “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” It’s also true in marriage. Sometimes others are emotionally unsafe because they need to self-protect. Listen to your spouse. Foster an environment where they can be vulnerable and their full selves. 

Revisit

This is not an issue you’ll address only once. (If so, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.) Come up with code words to communicate when your spouse is doing something to make you feel unsafe. Freely acknowledge if you’re struggling because of your own issues. (Full disclosure: I do this with my wife. Sometimes I can go into conflict-prevention, self-protection mode, where I don’t share my full thoughts and beliefs because I know my spouse will disagree. That’s a “me” issue, not a spouse issue. Acknowledging it helps me name it and work through it.)

Not every spouse will embrace talking about being emotionally safe. At times, contacting a marriage counselor is the best route. If and when you talk about it, be prepared for the rewards of working through marriage challenges; it will build trust, resiliency, and deep commitment. Who doesn’t want that for their marriage?

Other helpful resources:

What To Do When Your Spouse Gives You The Silent Treatment

Here's some help for those times when silence is NOT golden.

When your spouse gives you the silent treatment, it can be frustrating, painful, and confusing. It happens when one spouse refuses to communicate, ignores, withdraws from, or totally avoids their partner. It may not mean there’s absolute silence. You might still talk about daily tasks like who’s picking up the kids, who’s handling laundry, or dinner. The silent treatment shows that one person is unwilling to address an issue or connect in any meaningful way.

Ouch.

If you’re getting the silent treatment, what do you do?

Process On Your Own

What triggered the silent treatment? When did it start, and what were you discussing? Did something happen that may have been viewed negatively? You may not even know, but thinking about it can help you understand your partner’s perspective. 

What’s the goal? Is my spouse trying to punish me, hoping I’ll feel the pain they feel? Are they withdrawing so they can process their own thoughts and emotions? Are they trying to protect themselves? 

Processing can help you listen to and better understand yourself and your spouse, but try not to let it cause you to look down on your spouse.

Address it Carefully

Start with Compassion. Often, we use silence when we don’t have or can’t use healthy conflict resolution skills to deal with issues. 

Is the silent treatment a healthy approach? No. Especially when it’s used to control or manipulate. It can be abusive. (More on this later.) 

Provided this situation is not an abusive use of the silent treatment, remember, this is your spouse — and something sparked the treatment. This doesn’t mean you justify or excuse the behavior. It’s purely recognizing that something caused your spouse emotional pain. And different people respond to pain in different ways.

Speak directly to the issue. You might say something like, “I know you haven’t been talking to me lately. I’d like to discuss what started this. Can we talk?” 

Never forget, your body language and tone of voice communicate 93% of your message to your spouse. Getting the words right isn’t as important as having a healthy attitude toward your spouse.

Be Willing to Listen and Understand. When your spouse is ready to talk, put your energy into understanding their thoughts and emotions first. Some people give the silent treatment because they feel unheard. Let your spouse know you want to understand their thoughts, feelings, and their desires.

Model Healthy Skills to Resolve issues. You can’t change your spouse, but you can control yourself. Demonstrating respect, openness, and transparency while working together to resolve conflict can paint a picture of the kind of communication many people crave.

Things to Think About While Talking 

Don’t play the blame game. Focus on the ultimate goal: resolving the issue in a healthy way. Using lots of “I” statements and as few “You” statements as possible can keep you from blaming each other and getting distracted.

Own your contributions. Frame it this way in your head. “I understand that I hurt you when I did or said _______.” This focuses on the pain without justifying their response to the hurt. And when appropriate, apologize for the pain you triggered.

Be self-aware of your emotions. Your spouse may express a lot of pent-up emotions. They may flood you with more than you were expecting, but try to keep your emotions from controlling you. Be aware of your feelings as they share. At an appropriate time in the conversation, share. Remember, though, one of the reasons for the silent treatment could be they don’t feel heard. 

What if the Silent Treatment Continues?

Know what you can and can’t control. You can’t control how your spouse responds to emotional hurt. But you can control how you respond. You can gently let them know you’re ready to talk when they are. And you can choose to acknowledge the issue without letting it control you.

Don’t badger or nag. You can’t force someone else to talk. Don’t try.

Seek help. If you need to talk to a trusted friend or seek a counselor for your own mental health, it’s worth the effort. If you don’t go together, going alone can be helpful.

When is the Silent Treatment Abuse?

Consistently using silence to control someone can be abuse. Healthline lists the following signs to look for: 

  1. It’s a frequent occurrence and is lasting for longer periods.
  2. It’s coming from a place of punishment, not a need to cool off or regroup.
  3. It only ends when you apologize, plead, or give in to demands.
  4. You’ve changed your behavior to avoid getting the silent treatment.

I don’t recommend the silent treatment as a strategy for solving marriage problems. But a good starting point is to talk with your spouse about how you can resolve conflict in healthy ways. Your spouse may feel like you haven’t heard other attempts to solve problems, and understanding that may help you find better solutions together. It may be something as simple as asking for a timeout and agreeing to discuss later. Or it may take some effort for them to feel you’re an emotionally safe person to talk to. Whatever the case, learning to be compassionate without excusing the behavior may be the trick to eliminating the silent treatment in your relationship.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Talking about your expectations can help your relationship thrive.

Expectations are part of a healthy marriage. But unmet expectations can cause frustration and tension. 

You expect something from your spouse. 

Maybe you expect them to do something (but they’re not). 

Or to not do something (but they are). 

Your expectation is for them to live up to a certain standard. And for whatever reason, your spouse isn’t meeting that standard. 

So what do you do? 

Well, the big question you need to ask is: Why? Why aren’t they living up to the standard you’re hoping for? 

Typically, there are three simple reasons a spouse might not meet your expectations: 

1. They don’t know or don’t clearly understand what you expect. 

I expected my wife to spend a lot of time with me when we were first married, but it didn’t seem to happen much. The problem? She didn’t know what I wanted because I never told her. And I get it; it’s easy to think, but we’ve been married for a while now… they should know me! 

Expecting your spouse to read your mind (even after decades of marriage) sets them up for failure and you for frustration. It doesn’t matter how close you are to someone; there’s no substitute for good communication. 

Your goal is to clearly and respectfully communicate your expectation to your spouse. When you can both positively focus on the conversation, say something like this: 

  • Hey, I just want to be sure I’m doing a good job of being clear. 
  • Do you feel like we clearly understand what we hope to expect of each other? 
  • Can we talk about what I hope can happen with… (keeping the house clean, spending time with each other, eating better as a family, etc.)?
  • Can we work together to make sure these things happen? 
  • Is there something I can do better to explain my expectations more clearly? 

2. Your spouse can’t do what you expect them to do. 

The critical question here is: Does your spouse feel like your expectations are realistic? 

Here’s a hard truth: Even when you believe your expectations are realistic, if your spouse thinks they aren’t, expectations aren’t going to be met.

Ask yourself, Do I expect my spouse to give me something they don’t think they can provide?

Like their undivided attention right after a stressful day with the kids or at work? 

Or a chore that needs to be done to your exact specifications? (Fold the towels this way…) 

Or a level of fitness or body type that’s beyond reach? 

Maybe you could say something like, I was hoping I could count on you to… But now I’m wondering whether my expectations have been realistic. Can you help me figure this out? Let these questions guide you in a respectful conversation about what you can realistically expect from your spouse.

3. They just flat-out refuse. 

When you’ve expressed a realistic expectation clearly, and your spouse says no, what do you do? 

I’m going to assume your spouse isn’t refusing just because they’re a stubborn jerk (unless you’re into marrying stubborn jerks). If this is the case, it’s time to seek some professional help

Refusal to meet expectations may happen because there’s some kind of disagreement about where those expectations are heading. It may indicate they’re dealing with past baggage. Or maybe it suggests that a deeper marital issue needs to be addressed. 

Again, this is where an honest conversation with your spouse is helpful. Say something like, I realize you don’t like the thought of (doing whatever your expectation is). Could you help me better understand why, and how we might be able to come to a compromise? 

One last thing: After talking through any of the above scenarios, you may not end up having the same expectations you initially brought to the table. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Expectations are part of a healthy marriage. And they shift and morph throughout the marriage journey, but you’ve gotta talk about them. The idea is to maintain expectations that help you both grow stronger as individuals and as a couple.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

AFTER I DO | THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO NEWLYWED LIFE

SEX. CONFLICT. IN-LAWS. OH MY.

Tired of no one talking about how hard those first years can be? Well, buckle your seatbelt. We’re here to embrace the awkward (sex!), talk through the hard stuff (in-laws!), and give you everything you need to ace your newlywed years and beyond.

After I Do is a COMPLETE guide for those first 5 years of marriage, when everything is new and sweet… and freaking difficult. Even if you’ve dated for years, going from ME to WE is a huge transition and sometimes you just need a little (or a lot) of sage wisdom so that you don’t completely go off on your spouse. (But if you already have, no judgment. We’re here to help.)

Our relationship experts will guide you and your spouse through 12 modules covering all the hot topics like communication, conflict, sex, in-laws, money, etc. Get practical solutions you can put into practice! So if you wanna turn up the passion and connect with your spouse on a whole new level, get this marriage course, stat.

How to Be a More Supportive Spouse

Here are some tricks to help them feel your support.

You want to get a degree. Your spouse wants to lose some pounds.  

You want to stop smoking. Your spouse wants to start gardening. 

You want to tap into your artistic talents. Your spouse wants to tap dance. 

And you, being the committed, loving spouse that you are, want to be fully supportive. 

But, if you’ve had any experiences like mine, you know that the effort to be supportive can sometimes blow up in your face. You said that one thing you thought would be encouraging, but somehow you left limping away after a good lashing. I was only trying to help! 

And after licking your wounds, you’re left to wonder: How in the world can I be supportive? Is it even possible? 

Well, you can be a supportive spouse if you remember a few things: 

Goals are emotionally-charged.

Anything we set out to accomplish carries the risk of setbacks and failure. It’s easy to worry we aren’t going to do what we hope. In turn, our insecurities are on high alert. One small word, one slight inflection in your voice, has the potential to make your spouse feel great or horrible. Awareness of this helps you gauge the kind of support your spouse needs from you. 

Understand what your spouse wants from you.

Your idea of support may not be theirs. If your spouse asks you to support them, find out what they mean by support. Ask how they picture you being fully supportive. If they share something they want to accomplish but don’t ask for support, ask, “Is there a way I can support you that would be helpful?”

Hear the kind of support your spouse doesn’t want from you.

There’s encouragement, and then there’s accountability. Both are important. But they’re different. Accountability means your spouse wants someone to check in regularly on their progress and acknowledge with them when they’ve fallen short. Encouragement is cheering them and letting them know you are right beside them in their efforts. You’ve got this. I believe in you. You can do this. I’ve learned that encouragement is almost always a welcome way to support my spouse. Accountability… well, that could be a different story. Ultimately, it’s up to them which they need from you. 

Others can often say what a spouse can’t.

There are supportive words my wife’s best friend can say that would not be effective coming from me. She can invite my wife to join her at the gym and be okay; it would only make for an awkward rest of the day if I said it. Your spouse still needs you to support them in ways they feel safe. But it can be good to encourage your spouse to add another person to the support staff. 

Compliment the positive changes.

I can remember vividly when my wife told me, “I can tell your stomach is looking flatter.” I was ecstatic. That was years ago, and my stomach is no longer flat. But when I am trying to shorten the waistline some, I think back and remember her words. And it makes me want to try even harder. 

Words are powerful.

I can really tell your painting is improving! Your clothes are fitting looser! I noticed you haven’t had a cigarette in two weeks! You’re doing great! 

Your spouse needs you to be supportive.

But they need you to support them in a way that’s valuable to them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of showing support with the hope of receiving gratitude. (Oh, sweetie, thank you for telling me I missed leg day; you’re so supportive!) But your support is ultimately there to help your spouse be a better version of themselves as they see it. 

Now go compliment them on their development of tap-dancing skills! 

Other helpful blogs:

25 Fun Dates to Spruce Up Your Marriage This Spring

Bring more fun and joy to your relationship by dating each other!

It’s the time of year for flowers, birds, and butterflies. Spring is known as a time of rebirth after the dormant season of winter. For many, it’s the time for spring cleaning and sprucing up your home, inside and outside. Likewise, making time to spruce up your relationship may be what you need to stir up those butterflies in your stomach, too!

Dating in marriage can bring joy and fun to your relationship and even make it feel new and fresh again as you enter a new season.

This list of date ideas for couples can get you goin’.

  1. Visit a local u-pick farm. Find a farm that grows your favorite fruit (strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
  2. Check out a farmer’s market for some garden goodies. You’ve probably got a weekly market with local products you’d enjoy.
  3. Stargaze. Light your fire pit. Find specific constellations in the spring sky and talk about your dreams for the future.
  4. Watch a sunset/sunrise together. Take a thermos of coffee. Grab a blanket, find a spot, and snuggle up.
  5. Go Junking/Antiquing/Yard Saling. Spend $10 on a unique gift for each other.
  6. Ride bikes.
  7. Take walks together. It can be in your neighborhood, nature, or park. 
  8. Play games in the park. Pack your frisbee, fly kites, or bring a ball to throw or kick around. 
  9. Plant something together. Think flowers, an herb garden, or trees. 
  10. Have an old-fashioned game night. Card games, board games, or Truth or Dare are good options. Use your imagination. 
  11. Make homemade ice cream. Make your favorite ice cream and have toppings on hand that you like!
  12. Take a Segway tour, either of your city or a city near you.
  13. Fill out your own March Madness brackets with friendly wagers either game by game, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, or national championship. Prizes could be massages, Girls’ or Guys’ Night Out, or maybe the winner gets breakfast in bed.
  14. Participate in a First Things First Virtual/DIY Date Night.
  15. Plan a community service date where you focus on helping other people. Join local Meals on Wheels, a food bank, or a community clean-up. Give away stuff you don’t need/use. (Don’t be limited by this list. Let your creative juices flow!)
  16. Do a spring photoshoot. Take selfies, ask a friend to take pictures, or hire a pro. Go to various locations, such as a parking lot, museum, car lot, or a nature park.
  17. Visit a winery or distillery. Learn about the process they use and try samples.
  18. Have a water date. Paddleboarding, a water balloon fight, rafting, swim park, sprinklers/water hose, beach, canoeing, fishing, or kayaking are options.
  19. Create your own food tour of local eateries. Sample Thai food, pizza, sushi, tacos, hamburger, ice cream, or french fries. Check out places you haven’t tried before!
  20. Fire up your BBQ grill. Have a grilling contest and eat outdoors.
  21. Attend a minor/major/little league baseball game. Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…
  22. Go to a drive-in movie theater. Find one here.
  23. Plan an “Expand Your Mind” date. Read and discuss a book together. Watch a documentary.
  24. Zoo date! Visit a nearby zoo or travel to one. You may be able to see newly-born baby animals. (And sometimes the library will let you check out a free pass!)
  25. Spa date night! Give each other pedicures, back and shoulder rubs, or foot massages. Do facials or take a steamy bath. 

Spring is a time for new beginnings. And after the year we’ve had, that may be just what the doctor ordered. These spring date ideas can not only help you have fun with your spouse—they can create a fresh start for your relationship and help you have a stronger marriage all year long. 

Have fun!