When you've found a life partner, nurturing the various dimensions of your relationship is important. Many people say, "I married my best friend," but sometimes my husband feels more like a co-parent than Prince Charming. I've been thinking about ways to improve my life with my husband. Here are five ideas I'm working on; read on and see if they can help you too.
Keep in touch
Physical touch is important in a loving relationship. I once read an article on levels of intimate touch, starting with hand-holding and working up to intercourse. In between are all kinds of other ways to show love and affection, including touching faces, hugging, kissing and caressing. If your partner enjoys affection, take the time to find out what he or she likes. For example, I love having my back scratched, but my husband does not; he'd rather have his feet rubbed.
Another way to keep in "touch" is through good communication. It's easy to send a text or email, but the extra effort of a phone call, hand-written note or letter might express love better.
People who are in a monogamous sexual relationship sometimes take for granted that both partners are satisfied. It's important to discuss the sexual part of your life together, including needs, areas to improve and likes and dislikes. Here are some tips for getting the conversation started.
Having a busy family life means communication is crucial. I'm often coordinating child pick up, family outings, sports practices and lessons, appointments and homework schedules. If I don't communicate to my husband what is expected of him and how I need his help, I begin to feel resentful and he feels left out. We feel connected when we communicate regularly about a variety of things.
Prioritize time together
You can't be a good friend or a good lover if you don't prioritize time with your partner. Just like you lose track of old friends if you don't make an effort to stay in touch, you might find yourself feeling disconnected from your spouse if you don't spend time together. There are many excuses for not dating, but they are just that — excuses. A date can be as simple as sharing a bowl of popcorn on the couch at the end of the day. Of course, planned dates and romantic getaways are also encouraged.
I try to meet my husband for lunch near his work at least once a month as one of our dates, and we also like to spend a night or two away alone once a year. Block out a few minutes or hours for your partner and get in the habit of making time together as important as work meetings. Your friendship and your sex life will improve.
If you did indeed marry your best friend, having fun together will always be enjoyable. Plan silly or unique dates, watch a funny movie, try something new together (like rock climbing or roller blading) or play games. My husband and I like to make jokes and then try to outdo each other. We’re also not above having a wrestling or tickle match even if the kids aren’t around.
Make sure that you spend restful time together. Modern lives are busy with work, kids, school and other obligations. We set aside Sunday afternoon and evening as a time to rest and recharge after a busy week of school and work. Give each other massages, make your spouse a nice dinner, leave the dishes for later or take a leisurely walk together. Use each other to decompress and feel grounded.
If your time and budget allows, spending extended time alone together is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Tight budget? Find another couple to swap child-watching with and have a sleepover at your own house, minus the kids. We have found college-aged young women to watch our kids while we take a night away. Having uninterrupted time to talk and be together is precious.
It's pretty special when your best friend is your life partner and your lover. Making all facets of your relationship work takes effort and time. Most of the time things will not be perfect, but if you can continue to cultivate respect for each other and work together, your life will be happy in many ways.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.