By Dunia Shuaib
Everyone dreams of having a passionate and fulfilling marriage. Yet, few actually take the time to learn, plan, and invest in their relationships. Your crops will only yield as much as the effort you put into harvesting and nurturing them. The same applies to your marriage. Here are 10 tangible things you can do to improve your relationship, starting today!
Taking interest in your spouse and learning more about them helps build a strong bond between the two of you. Your spouse will begin to feel that you truly care and love them so much that you want to know everything about them. From their childhood memories, to their embarrassing teenage mishaps, likes and dislikes, all the way to the journey that led them to marrying you; get to know your spouse intricately!
Tip: Create a questionnaire with 10-20 things you’d love to learn about your spouse. Print two copies, take your spouse out for dinner, take turns going through each question, and discover a whole new side of your spouse.
Engaging in new and adventurous activities with your spouse will facilitate your marriage from becoming stale and mundane. Don’t always expect your spouse to help you plan everything out. Instead, keep them on the edge by teasing them with little tidbits about your next adventure.
Tip: Find a night on the weekend to drive somewhere where neither of you have ever been. Turn off the GPS and make it a joint mission to find a nice spot the two of you can gaze at the stars together. You can make an exception and use your GPS to find your way home afterwards.
Sometimes we believe that marriage should come equipped with autopilot, and that everything should automatically function and take us along the scenic path we all anticipate. But marriage requires commitment; in the form of your time, your focus, and both your mental and emotional priorities. The reality of it is that marriage takes time and requires work, and the fruit of it will only be as sweet as the time we take to harvest and nurture it.
Tip: Take 10 minutes of every Sunday to plan out your week. No, I don’t mean your work and errands schedule. Instead, to work on a plan on how you’ll dedicate a portion of each day to your spouse, and what you will do for them, towards them, and with them.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
When we expect so much from others in life, they are bound to fall short of such. Many of us are taught and led to believe that getting married will solve everything in life; that it will fill every void present in our hearts, and that it will suffice for everything we need in life. Many studies have shown that such high expectations increase the likelihood of an unfulfilled marriage. Instead lower your expectations and increase your happiness.
Tip: Start your marriage with a small cup, as it’ll be a lot easier to fill. Lower your expectations and be pleasantly surprised!
Learn to find time to unplug. No, I don’t mean unplugging your devices from the charger. I mean unplugging your devices from YOU. It has become an increasing issue nowadays that people have come to find their devices, specifically smartphones, as their closest companion. And many times it’s the first thing they look for when they wake up, and the last thing they see before they fall asleep. Think about it for a minute; when you’re browsing Facebook and Snapchat in bed, you’re bringing other people’s lives into the most intimate place in your home. Sorry Nike, but “just DON’T do it!”
Tip: Create “off-limit zones” where your devices are not allowed, such as your bedroom and at the dinner table.
Make time to express your feelings and your emotions with your spouse. And, equally as important, ensure you’re willing to listen and empathize with them in turn. Communication comes in many different forms, and it does not always have to be verbal. Even laying in bed, looking into their eyes, and just simply stroking their hair can be a powerful way of saying “I truly love you!”
Tip: Find out which love language your spouse speaks, and make it a point to express your love accordingly. Read about the “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and learn more from him in my interview with him in the “Secrets to Lasting Love” [see link below].
Don’t seek happiness from just your marriage. Happiness comes from Allah
Through worshiping Him , take time out to grow spiritually and perform acts of worship. Extend your endeavors of finding happiness by interacting with the world, whether it is spending some leisurely time with friends, getting active with helping people less fortunate than yourself, or even coordinating a reunion with your childhood friends. Don’t confine yourself, as the world has so much to offer, and so much to receive from all that you are capable of giving!
Tip: Make a plan with your spouse where, one day, you’ll both go out separately and engage with others. Maybe a coordinated “guys-night-out and girls-night-out” will do the trick.
The saying goes that you should always think twice before you speak. But many times, while we’re charged with our emotions, even that doesn’t hold us back from unleashing words that can leave wounds for a lifetime.
Tip: If there is some pressing thing you need to get out of your system, write it out and keep it to yourself privately. Check on it in a week and, most likely, you’ll want to shred it before anyone else comes across it.
LITTLE IS BIG
Many times we’re lead to think and believe that the most appreciated of things we do are the ones that are the largest or the most expensive. But for most people, it’s really the amount of thought that went into planning or gifting something. A simple handwritten letter capturing your innermost feelings and your relentless love towards your spouse for example, is a gift that can penetrate the heart and reside therein forever.
Tip: Buy a pack of sticky notes and write short love messages for your spouse. Stick them in the most random of places: the bathroom mirror, the milk carton in the fridge, inside his briefcase, on top of the washing machine, on the edge of the shoe rack, inside her purse, or even a heartfelt card underneath their pillow.
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Being grateful can truly transform your life. There are countless studies showing how maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve both your psychological and your physical health in so many ways. It allows you to see the world in a whole different light and one where you can always see the good in everything around you. Thriving relationships have at least five times more spoken appreciations than critical comments. Research has proven that happy couples succeed by finding ways to express their appreciation for each other.
Tip: Take the 30-day gratitude challenge and cultivate a gratitude mindset. Grab your copy here (Nobleblessings.com) and transform your life!
BONUS. Learn the Secrets to Make Your Love Last!
There’s something you already know: that your marriage is worth investing in. Despite knowing that, many of us believe marriage should be something that we just know, that engages autopilot, and shouldn’t require much effort on our part. It should just work and, somehow, the pixie dust that was sprinkled on our hearts the day we got married should last us forever. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of love. Love requires knowledge, nourishment and nurturing. That’s why I’ve spent years compiling the essential secrets, from both relationship experts around the world and also based on my research and experience from speaking with hundreds of individuals and couples; all to help you with your marriage, insha’Allah.
Tip: Sign up for my exclusive “Secrets to Lasting Love” course today, and master your relationships! And since your relationship is special, here’s a special limited-time code to get $20 off.
Coupon Code: “MASTERMYMARRIAGE”
Sr. Dunia is a certified marriage educator, host of Deen with Dunia, motivational speaker, lecturer and author. She combines the Qur’an, Sunnah and psychology to help Muslims who are striving to create and maintain a harmonious relationship between their deen and dunya. Dunia is passionate about helping Muslims in their relationships. In addition to her focus in providing psychoeducation, she has been doing extensive research to pinpoint the problems in Muslim marriages in the West and to help find practical solutions. To learn more about her and her work visit her website: DuniaShuaib.com, and to catch her weekly livestream follow her on Facebook Facebook.com/DeenwithDunia