What you do is so loud, I cannot hear what you say. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
4) Build an environment
More is caught than taught, so we cannot underestimate how much a home environment speaks. Daily habits and rhythm shape a home. Sometimes environments set themselves. Attitudes go unchecked, decisions have no central clearinghouse, and activities accumulate without a filter. The resulting message of such a home is this: “You’re on your own.”
In the play Our Town, a woman goes to heaven and asks to return to her former life for one more day. Reliving her tenth birthday, she sees the deep disconnect of her home life. Family members don’t really see each other. The house is full of distraction. Here are a few small steps towards a healthier home….
- Be intentional face to face… Treat family like someone you just met.
- Make deposits of affection… An antioxidant for relationships.
- Make “Hello” & “Goodbye” count… They set the tone for night and day.
- Openly recall happy memories… To fan the flame.
- Tell stories about each other… They celebrate personality.
- Develop common values… They set positive expectations.
5) Fill the buckets
Many couples fail to invest in friendship. They assume the feelings which got them here will get them there. Autopilot can be hard to recognize in the moment. Marriages do not maintain altitude on autopilot. Here are three suggestions to invest in friendship:
The affirmation bucket
Everyone has emotional needs. Like a bucket that gets poured out or leaks, we need to be filled again. Men tend to think that modest gestures gain modest rewards. So they skip those and go for one big pour. But small, frequent deposits are better than large infrequent ones. Reminds me of a lonely boy on my street whose parents gave him everything but time. Twice a year they’d take a spectacular trip. He would return on an emotional high and crash within the week. Everyone needs regular, consistent affirmation.
The empathy bucket
You didn’t hear right until the speaker says so. Remember the original Tevo commercial? A man watching the big game sees his wife come home. He presses pause as she fumes about her horrible day. Afterwards he simply says, “You…had…a…bad…day.” Her response? “You’re the sexiest man in the world right now.” Don’t fix. Just listen well. Let them know what you heard. Even small gestures of empathy are filling just as small judgments drain.
6) Build your storybook
In college two students were arguing about when courtship ends–at engagement or marriage. The professor, who looked about 108 years old, turned slightly from the blackboard and said, “Gentleman, I’m still courting my wife.” If you see your marriage as a story unfolding over your lifetime, you may be more likely to finish the book.
- Play “20 questions” Find a great tool by clicking here.
- Play “what’s your favorite” Could you order for each other at a restaurant?
- Protect time Make the dinner hour sacrosanct at least once a week.
- Reinforce your story What stories define your marriage or family?
- Don’t rehearse, remember Infidelity is rehearsed long before it is practiced.
Author Mike Mason says: “A person is the single-most limitless entity in all creation. If there is anything more unlimited…it is two people together.” You can never exhaust the intrigue of your spouse. Keep exploring.
Marriage and family books abound–full of technics, tools, and philosophies. But nothing speaks louder to your family than the home environment. Genuine friendship must set the tone. When it comes to the friendship between husband and wife, you can con a con and you can fool a fool, but you cannot kid a kid.