The Hubby and I will have been married for 11 years in June and I am still as happy now as I was the day we married. In fact I'd say I'm more happy, I have two smart, gorgeous boys and a wonderful husband who loves me. The Hubby is my best friend, we rarely spend time apart and when we do I feel like I've lost a part of myself. Don't get me wrong, we have our moments but overall we're very happy - we've kept our love alive during our just over 15 years together.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about how to keep the love alive in a marriage.
1. Spend time together
I have known lots of couples that don't spend time together, they do their own thing. The man goes out to the pub while the woman stays home and cooks dinner or takes care of the children. Sometimes it's the other way around but not often. When it comes to spending time together they have a rare date night which keeps the relationship going but I often wonder if either of them are truly happy. And then the inevitable happens - splitting up, or worse - divorce.
Despite the Hubby and I both working at home we don't spend every minute of every day together. Hubby works in the lounge and I work in my office upstairs during office hours. We take a break at lunch time and eat lunch together, this is when we chat and sometimes watch the news and discuss whatever happens to be the day's news. After lunch it's back to work - separately.
Later in the day when the boys are home from school and Hubby has finished work we eat dinner together and after that the time is ours. We spend our evenings doing various things like watching TV series or movies, doing a jigsaw, or even reading - but whatever it is we do, we're usually together. It is rare that we have an evening apart.
The Hubby and I inside Blackpool Tower.
It might sound like we spend too much time together - enough that we could get bored. But how could you get bored when there's always something interesting to discuss? I don't know how it happens but we always find something interesting to talk about - our topics have ranged from economics and complicated maths to whether our boys are doing okay in school. I never bore of talking to the Hubby.
2. Take an interest in each other's hobbies
Not everyone has a hobby and that's fine, but the point is that you take an interest in the things your Partner likes or finds interesting.
I am rubbish at maths - I mean, really. I'm okay at basic maths but anything more complicated than 5 x 5 is beyond me. I'm ashamed of it but that's just how it is, I don't use maths every day and have gradually got worse at it over the years. However, maths is one of the subjects that the Hubby loves. When he discusses any kind of mathematics his eyes light up and he gets all animated as he tries to explain complicated equations and theories in a way he think I'll understand. To be honest he is very good at getting me to understand things - we were discussing calculus recently and despite me never having studied it I kind of understood what it's about (not that I could do any of it!). I love seeing him so excited about something and it's even better when he's trying to teach our boys maths.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Since I started blogging the Hubby has been happy to discuss anything to do with it. He listens when I want to rant about Facebook changing their algorithms or when I talk about the latest scandal about a blogger. I'm sure he gets bored of listening to it sometimes but he still listens.
I believe that if you listen to your partner when they're talking about something they enjoy you make a connection. Your partner sees that you're listening to them, they see that you are taking an interest in them and it brings you closer. If you can listen and be present during them getting excitable about something you may even get enthusiastic yourself!
Today we are surrounded by technology, we carry small computers around in our pocket and we're always connected. But when was the last time you spent time together without all that technology?
It's so easy, when you're chatting, to glance at your phone and see if you've got any notifications. But what is that telling your partner? That you're bored and want to be doing something else.
Try spending time together without the technology - put your phones away, somewhere you can't get to them. Turn the iPad off or put it out of reach. Keep the TV off. Like I said, one of the things the Hubby and I do together is jigsaws - we have a huge collection and we'll pull one out and sit at the dining table as we work to piece it together, together. Another thing we do is Lego sets - we've built the Lego Taj Mahal, the Lego Tower Bridge, and the Lego Disney Castle to mention a few. We always find something to talk about while building and we feel connected because we're working together to build something. When it's finished we both know we contributed to getting it finished and feel accomplished as a couple.
Whatever it is you do, do it without the help of technology.
4. Laugh together
Whether watching a great movie (like Hot Fuzz - one of our favourites) or telling each other jokes you've got to be able to laugh together.
The Hubby and I are lucky, we find the same things funny. From binge watching Friends or The Office to crying with laughter because we said the same thing at the same time we're always laughing.
Hubby and I in a boat on our way to Venice.
Go and see a stand up comedian, watch your (both of yours) favourite comedy movie, mess about like you're children. Whatever it is that gets you to laugh so hard your sides hurt is what you should be doing together.
5. Go for walks
Getting outdoors is SO good. As a family we go for walks often, the boys walk slightly ahead of us or they walk with us and we talk about all sorts of things. But the BEST walks are when Hubby and I can get outdoors on our own. At the moment we're able to do that every week when LP is at Karate. While he's there BP will sit in the car and Hubby and I will go for a 2 mile walk around the area where Karate takes place. Again we talk, about family, about movies, about life - we're never stuck for topics.
Even when the weather is a bit rubbish being outdoors together is another way to connect. You can moan about the weather together, you can get soaked because it's raining and laugh at how each other looks in the rain! Getting fresh air into your lungs and being alone, even if for just a few minutes, can do you the world of good, not to mention the good the exercise will do.
I've mentioned a few times that that is what the Hubby and I do, a lot. We're always talking. But that's not what I mean here - this time I mean if something is bothering you you should talk about it. If you're not happy share that with the one person that can help - your partner. Being able to share your worries or darker thoughts with someone makes it easier to deal with, and you never know - maybe they'll be able to help.
Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.
If it's something that they are doing to annoy you it's still a good idea to say something. Keeping things like that to yourself is not good for you, it will fester and grow into resentment and then you'll find that you don't actually like your partner anymore.
You should always feel comfortable talking to your partner - no matter what it is you're talking about.
7. Buy gifts "just because"
It could be a bouquet of flowers or a small teddy bear but getting something that says "I've been thinking about you" for no reason is so special. It'll make your partner see that no matter what has been going on in your lives you're thinking about them and you wanted to show them so with a small token.
The Hubby has bought me lots of gifts over the years but every so often he will appear with a gift that I wasn't expecting. A "just because" gift. They are so wonderful that they make me cry - every time! It's not usually the gift that does it but more the thought that he's been thinking about me.
How often do you and your partner hold hands? Do you have a quick kiss as you pass in the kitchen?
Whether it's holding hands or a peck on the cheek it's important to touch each other. The Hubby and I often touch one another - when we're out walking we'll hold hands, when I'm in the kitchen he'll come in for a kiss, and when we're watching a movie together we'll either hold hands or I'll lean on him and we'll hug.
Why not give your partner a quick kiss or even a touch on the arm the next time you're near them.
9. Surprise each other
I'm not just talking gifts here, it could be an outing or just doing the dishes, but make sure you can surprise each other. If your partner is having a tough week (at work perhaps) and you could do something that would make them happy - do it. When they get in from work, or from the school run, make them a cup of tea. Or maybe surprise them with a day at a spa or a day off from looking after the kids.
Think about the things that will make your partner happy and do your utmost to make them happen.
The Hubby and I do every single thing in this list and that's why I feel comfortable sharing them in a post. I believe that if you do these things you'll both be happy.
What things do you do to keep the love alive?