It was 10:00 at night. I was slouched at the computer desk browsing the internet, catching up on what was happening in the world that the day. “It’s on” chimed Marilyn’s voice from down the hall. Without pause I sent Windows through it’s shutdown procedure and made my way to join her. “Oh cool, this is Five o’clock Charlie. I haven’t seen that one in a coon’s age.” With that we cozied in beside each other and enjoyed another 2 episodes of M*A*S*H*. It was the same every evening Monday to Friday. On occasion our teens wander by shaking their heads, wondering why we watch reruns of 30 old year TV. It makes no sense to them. But our tradition is fixed. Let those silly kids wag their heads at us.
It’s not really about the show. Our friends offered us high quality DVD versions without commercials or edits. We passed. It’s about custom that’s been happening for about 15 years. By now we know the entire story line of every episode within the first 30 seconds of the start of the program. When the show was recently removed from its regular time slot we hardly knew what to do with ourselves.
Now you might be thinking “what’s the matter with these people? Don’t they have something better to do with that hour every day?” Our kids would cheer you on. But it’s what we do. Call it custom, tradition, habit, whatever you like. You should do it to. Maybe it’s not watching reruns of forgotten TV, but you have habits. And some of them likely make your teens (if you have them) look at you sideways. The truth is we all have habits. Dozens of them. They can be activities as simple as making the bed together every morning, or catching up about the day’s events while preparing dinner after work. Or they may be less healthy habits like not talking for several days after a conflict or finding little ways to punish each other. Most of us don’t set out to develop habits, good or bad, they just sort of happen. But what of we did? What kinds of habits would we develop if we were deliberate about it? Would we have sat down 15 years ago an planned to watch M*A*S*H* at ten o clock every night? Maybe. But maybe we would have picked something else. My point is that if we were deliberate about choosing our habits we are much more likely to pick good ones. I can’t help but wonder how good habits might change marriages in our community. What would happen to the divorce rate if every couple committed to developing habits that built into their marriage? What’s the cost of not developing good habits? Actually, I don’t have to wonder because research tells us the answer. The best kept marriage secret is that by doing certain things, and not doing certain others, we are able to completely determine the satisfaction and outcome of our marriage. Marriage satisfaction is no accident!
On of the most of vital things you can do to enrich your marriage is to create habits that result in connections. In a healthy marriage, couples spend about 5 hours per week connecting. It may sound a little overwhelming to squeeze that kind of time into an already hectic week, but you may be surprised how the time adds up. Here are some ideas:
- *Before you leave for work in the morning, take five minutes to check what’s happening in your partner’s day and give a warm goodbye. Do that 5 times a week and you are 25 minutes.
- *Take 20 minutes of together time to catch up at the end of the day. Do that 5 days per week and you’ve added another 1½ hours. -Go on a date once per week. There’s another 2 hours.
- *Cuddle, touch and have sex.
- *Be creative. Throw in an activity that you both enjoy and round it out to five hours.
- Couples who do this are rewarded quickly by watching their conflicts go smother and their outlook on their relationships improve. Who knows, you may even find yourself throwing in the odd episode of M*A*S*H*.
MA; RCC and Director
Henry provides couples therapy in Kelowna and has been working with Marriages & Families since 1991. This includes 10 years as a foster parent, helping couples prepare for and enrich their family experience, and 25 years of private practice as a couples & family therapist. His wealth of experience and professionalism provide you and your family with the care and direction you need in order to achieve your relationship goals.