Ginika Ukoha is a beautiful mother of two adorable girls. She works as a Medical Administrator and a certified marriage counsellor and advocate who is very passionate about love and marriage and dedicates most of her energy to uplift and enlighten marriages. Her passion for love and relationships led her to set up Alliance for the Improvement of Marriages aka AIM that supports and encourages marriages . Through AIM Ginika is committed to assist couples overcome martial challenges in order to build and sustain enlightened and healthy marriages by providing empowering tools and resources. She is our Guest Poster and shares her tips for sustaining love.
I believe every couple dreams of a “happily ever after” marriage. Yet as time passes, and without knowing it, distractions like raising kids, the overly involved in-law, demanding workloads, financial pressures, and the over-crowded schedule, move us off track and we can lose sight of what’s important. Before you know it, you’ve become roommates with the one you were once madly in love with.
Great relationships don’t happen by accident, but rather they are created through daily actions that prove your love. The most important components to successful relationships are found in how individuals within a relationship treat each other. This relies on the way we communicate and our behavior. Also, sustaining the love in any relationship means that we have fun sharing the same hobbies and doing things together. Creating and sustaining a loving, trusting and lasting relationship is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can long for and look forward to. While this is not a complicated process, it does require awareness and cultivation similar to what you need in raising a child or growing a garden. Relationships take time, caring and commitment; but they are truly worth it.
I will go over some strategies and tools that will help you sustain love and make it grow and flourish. Many of these ideas are simple, but it all comes down to being committed to following through and implementing them in your relationship or future relationship. Remember, that at our core we all want to love and be loved, and these are just ways that we can express that.
Gratitude and Spoken words
Gratitude is essential to any relationship. We all want to feel appreciated and that people do not take us for granted. Unfortunately, when we get busy in life it is easy to take others for granted. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that anything that anyone does for us is a choice and they are making the choice to be there for us. Your words have the power to give life or take it away. There is nothing that can change the atmosphere of a room faster than a word of encouragement, a word spoken in love, a word that brings comfort, and a word that shows gratitude. You can fill your wife with the security she seeks by speaking fondly of her beauty, her strengths etc. You can build confidence and motivation in your husband by telling him how proud you are of all his hard work. With a few short sentences, you can shape the way your spouse views themselves and the world around them. Believe it or not, what you say has incredible power.
If we want to encourage more of a certain behaviour, the best thing we can do is to show appreciation for it instead of complaining when we don’t get it. You can express gratitude through words, actions, and even by leaving random notes. Another way to show gratitude is to thank each other for everything! This includes the smallest of tasks, for example: Doing the dishes, a compliment, helping with the kids, making dinner, etc. You can also start a gratitude journal where each of you write what you appreciate about each other or you have each person write up to 25 things that they are grateful for about their partner and create two gratitude jars, one for each partner. Pull one out every morning to start your day with a foundation of gratitude. Lastly, you can show gratitude by speaking at least a minute of encouragement to your spouse. Once you’re finished, your spouse spends the next min sharing what they love about you. It’s that simple! You will be amazed what these 2 minutes will have on your relationship.
Connecting, Apologising and Building your relationship
Couples who have successful relationships understand the need for them to “check in” and connect with each other and asking if there is anything they need to apologize for. Connecting this way helps clear out any building resentment and often opens up for healthy dialogue for managing expectations that might have been missed, or suddenly come up.
This is important because as humans, we tend to make mistakes all the time. Thus saying “I am sorry” is a powerful statement that shows there is some regretful acknowledgment of an offense. It speaks to your humility and the sorrow you feel over the hurt you caused. Saying sorry conveys that you want to be on the same team and you’re willing to work on making things right, but it has to be sincere.
Where we can get into trouble is when we stop being polite to each other and not say sorry at all, or on the other hand, be so quick to say it, without any action to back it up. It is wrong to say sorry and just walk away from the situation without taking some sort of action. “I’m sorry” is actually the start, not the end to an apology; it’s the communication starter. If this is done in a spirit of love, everything will slow down, emotions will cool, and you’ll provide a safe environment to actually connect with one another and dig deeper into what triggered the reaction. You do not have to agree with your spouse’s opinion, but you must understand and sympathize with their feelings.
So why is it so hard for us to apologize? Could it be a matter of pride that we don’t want to admit we are wrong, that we want to save face? Choosing love means choosing your relationship over pride or self. We know it’s hard to say I’m sorry, but you have to be courageous. Saying I’m sorry and meaning it by your actions and words is no laughing matter. Doing it right – choosing to address the problem rather than sweeping it under the rug will strengthen your relationship. It will also help avoid fighting over the same thing repeatedly and that is always good for your marriage.
A good way to connect after conflict is by looking at the situation and decide whether it is what I call a deal breaker (i.e., is it worthy of a fight if you can’t resolve it immediately). If the answer is no, you may want to forgive and let it go. If it’s repetitive or is big (money, faithfulness, respectfulness, abuse) then an apology and a discussion is a required.
However, we must not wait for fights and should connect daily by discussing your days with each other. Discuss something you would like to change within your daily regimen. Discuss your dreams and hopes. Meaningful discussions build friendship and connection. Remember that we all change through time, so ask questions such as how they are feelings about a variety of topics. Get past superficial day-to-day conversations and dive deeper to truly know your partner. Building goals together is another great way to connect as a relationship grows when a couple are working towards something together. Goals can be financial goal, such as saving a certain amount of money to go to on a vacation. Or, it could include a fitness goal, such as running a half marathon together. What ever it is make sure you connect and keep being a team.
Activities and Excitement
It is easier for couples to fight when they don’t spend quality time together. Personally, I find that my husband and I fight when we don’t spend quality time together. I find that I am easily irritated and constantly picking on him for days on end. However, when we are together in a place where we can connect and be intimate we thrive . I am sure you have heard this a billion times but I will say it again… MAKE DATE NIGHTS A PRIORITY! Spending time together keeps things fresh and fun in your relationship, so ensure it’s a time with no distractions where you can connect.
If you’re lacking ideas on activities here are a few below;.
• Do something exciting or scary: Studies show that the body’s fear response is similar to sexual arousal and that when we do things that create excitement and push us outside of our comfort zones, together, that it increases feelings of intimacy and connection.
• Visit a new place, learn something together, or discover new things together: New experiences build your connection by building new positive memories. You strengthen your bond when you feel like you are exploring life together. The more positive memories you have, the easier it is to not put too much emphasis on a few negative experience that may come up. It also gives you things to talk about to others and each other, which reinforces your bond.
• Volunteer together: When you give back as a couple it helps you put things into perspective and appreciate the things that you have. Many times volunteering also helps us let go of petty things since it reminds of how lucky we truly are.
• Go on a trust walk: In this activity one person leads the other, blindfolded (or eyes closed), for a walk. The partners take turns. This is a fun activity that we have done several times as we walk around the neighbourhood or in a park. It helps you let go and let the other person guide you and develop trust.
• Cook a meal together: Have a nice meal night where you decide what you are going to eat and make it together. Cooking together can be a great bonding experience that gives you a chance to share the experience.
• Play Games: Pull out a board game, bring on the appetizers and enjoy. Thumb wrestle. Okay, this may seem silly but it brings us back to when we were kids and gives us an opportunity to be silly. Another silly game could be Simon Says where you can take turns to ask the other person to do silly things. Listen, you are never too old to play games!!
• Have a weekly Date Night: Take turns planning the dates. For example, one person can take one week and the other person can take the next one.
• Get sweaty together at the gym: This is great as it achieves a dual purpose of bonding and keeping fit.
• Spend time with other couples: Couples that have great relationships can be a great example, reinforce values and commitment, and help our relationships grow. At the same time it can create excitement and fun.
• Either create a bucket list or get out your bucket list: These are things that you want to do before you die. Plan to make some of them a reality and commit to doing some items on your list this year!
• Massage night: Have a night a week that you massage each other. Research has shown that massages build intimacy and connection.
• Snuggle: Take time to hold each other, whether it is while watching a movie, talking about your dreams, or just in silence. Or, better yet, have a Naked Dinner (wink wink)
• Surprise Surprise: Try surprising your beloved with something, as if it was a special occasion. Arrive home with a small gift, cook your partner’s favorite meal or book a surprise weekend getaway. These types of surprises will keep the excitement alive and prevent you from getting stuck in a relationship rut.
• Let your spouse know that you are thinking about them:. Don’t be afraid to send some sexy text messages to spice things up. Messages can also build anticipation for when you’ll see each other again. Messages can also serve to show love, admiration, and encouragement.
• Kiss like you mean it: Not all routines have to be dull. Make a point of kissing your partner daily — not a peck, but a real, early relationship kind of passionate smooch.
• Flirt: Try out your flirting technique, which has probably been on pause for a while. Even if the result ends up with the two of you laughing together instead of heading to the bedroom, it’s a fun and easy way to liven up the day for a bit.
• Greet each other with excitement: The way you greet one another after being apart can set the tone for the rest of the day. Changing small habits, such as the way you greet your partner when they get home, can be key to a lasting relationship. Greet your partner at the door with a hug and a kiss and express your joy at being together again. This can start things off on the right foot and set you on the path to reconnect after being apart.
When you first start a relationship you cherish each moment you are together and everything about the person. You see the good and not the negative aspects of the person. Keep the romance alive through gratitude, spoken words of affirmation , spending uninterrupted time together and remembering everything the other person brings to your life—and make sure you express it! Here is too longlife love in our marriages.
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