Invest in your marriage, and see the value increase!

The biggest difference between healthy, and unhealthy couples, is the way they manage their marital emotional bank balance. What does your marriage’s bank balance look like?

The most naïve thing a couple can do is to think that their marriage will just 'happen'. Most couples plan their wedding day to the tee to make sure it runs smoothly and without a hitch. They believe that their marriage will just pan out effortlessly, and that they can just float along in their marital boat without switching on the engine or using an oar. Yes, a marriage does need fate, but if you leave it solely up to fate, you are heading for a disaster.

Think about the long term

Most people who are rich had a strategy that they followed to create wealth. They realise that investing smartly will bring them long term successes, and they commit to investing regularly. Financial advisers will also advise you to have a long-term goal with your investments and disregard whatever is happening in the stock markets in the long term if you want to grow your wealth.

Whether the markets crash or grow, you should never stop investing, no matter what. By consistently investing, you will not be tempted to withdraw when there are small hiccups in the short term because withdrawing your money could mean losing everything you invested. Marriage works on the same principal. No matter what, good or bad, you should never stop investing long term in your marriage. This way, you will ensure that your marriage stays strong and successful in the long run.

The biggest problem for couples

The biggest reason for conflict is: Nothing. Yes, you read that correctly. Couples often think their problems are sex, money or in-laws, but at the end of the day, the biggest problem is the inability to emotionally connect with each other.

Psychologist, researcher, speaker, author and professor, John Gottman, who studied divorce-prediction and marital stability (observing roughly 3000 couples over a four year period), found that you invest in your marriage every time you act with warmth towards your partner, you follow through with your commitments, make positive plans for the future and treat each other with love, appreciation and gratitude.

However, every time you fail to do these things, your account goes into overdraft. A positive bank balance in your marital, emotional bank account, will help you through a crises period.

How do you balance your marital emotional bank balance?

John’s research showed that in order to be successful in your marriage, you need to deposit more and withdraw less. When you fight, you need four positive interactions to cancel out the one negative interaction.

However, in your normal day to day life, apart from a conflict situation, you need 20 positive interactions for every single negative interaction.

Why? Because when there is conflict, a negative reaction is to be expected, but on any normal day, a negative interaction will catch you off guard and therefor will have a much bigger impact on the emotional bank balance. That is why regular investments in the form of daily habits are very important.

  1. Make emotional investments a habit.

Emotional intimacy, is one of the most important pillars in a marriage. You might have a fiery sex life, be dutiful to one another, or have an enviable social life, but if your emotional intimacy is lacking, then you are headed for big trouble.

How do you create this emotional intimacy? By being mindful towards your partner on a daily basis.

Look them in the eye when talking to them. React when they speak. Go the extra mile when your partner needs help. Listen with a kind heart. Make small talk, but don’t only make small talk. Invest in regular communication in your marriage. Give your partner compliments.

The list of ways to do this, is endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • When your partner spills his/her heart out, don't make it out to be nothing. Don’t criticize, or laugh at them, instead support them, even if you do not have the answers, or sound advice. Your partner needs to know than they have emotional security with you, and that you will not criticize them, and that you are always on their side.
  • Show interest in their world. He might not understand your obsession with the Kardashians, and you may not understand how he can sit and watch cricket for hours on end. Instead of making a snide remark about this, rather go and sit next to them, and ask them: “Explain to me why the other team has just scored”. Show an interest in their world. This way, you will get to know them on an even deeper level.
  • Talk about tough things. Yes, there are topics that are really hard to discuss, because it hurts, like bad childhood memories. It might be hard to talk about, because it takes you out of your comfort zone, like discussions about being buried versus being cremated. It might be something that you are just embarressed to talk about, like sexual matters. Keep in mind, these discussions are important, because it lets you understand your partner’s heart in these matters.
  • Give each other at least 10 minutes of your undivided attention. Time is one of the most important investments you can make in your marriage. Yes, of course, all couples strive to spend hours talking to one another on a daily basis, but in todays day and age, with everything being so rushed, that is not always possible. Therefor, make it a ritual, where, for instance, in the afternoon after work, you take 10 minutes to switch off all technology and put aside any requests from the children, just to relax with a glass of wine in the bedroom while you change out of your work clothes. Look at each other, listen to each other and make each other your first priority above absolutely everything and everyone else.
  • Acknowledge each others efforts. In our everyday communication with each other, there are fine nuances. Body language, eye contact, sub text...it is very easy to miss your partners’ efforts to make contact with you. The coffee she brings to you while you are busy in your study, is probably an effort to make contact with you. Look up from where you are busy working on your computer, and smile at her. He might come stand behind you in the kitchen while you are busy preparing supper. Turn around and give him a hug. It’s important to recognize these gestures, and react to them with love and caution.
  • Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. When your partner acts in a certain way, there are two ways you can react to this. By giving them the benefit of the doubt, or by immediately with suspicion. Choose the first option. Always believe that there is good reason for your partners behaviour, and that he/she carriers your best interest at heart. And if you are really in doubt, don’t make assumptions, ask them out about it.

2. Make religious investments a habit

We often tend to leave our religious dedication for Sudays, packing it in a “Sunday Box” and forgetting about it for the rest of the week. But religious investments are something we need to do daily, in actual fact, every second of the day. Because our relationship with God determines our entire life, it needs to show in every decision we make, every look we give and every word we speak. Marriage is a holy institution, therefore religious investments in your marriage can give your marriage a powerful growth injection.

Here are some specific ways in which to do this:

  • Live with gratuity towards God for your partner. Your parner comes directly from God’s hand. Thank him for the wonderful way He let you cross paths. God had a specific plan in mind when he brought you together. You might be complete opposites, that bring about a magnitude of conflict situations, but in this way, you complete each other in a very special way. Therefore, thank God for everything you value in your partner, but also thank him for everything that irritates you about them. Make a point of thanking God for your partner, in their presence.
  • Dedicate your highs and lows to Him. Praise God when things are going well. Praise him out loud for the lovely mug of Latte that you are able to afford, or the warm blankets you have to sleep under. Praise Him when you move into your new home, and praise Him for your healthy sex life. When things are tough, speak to Him about it. Ask him how you can solve it together, and to show you the way forward. Pray about the problems you endure as a couple, but also pray for each other, about your individual struggles.
  • Wisdom is another one of your nucleus investments. Don't only read Song of Songs, but spend enough time on Solomons' Proverbs. Buy marital diaries, and visit church camps, and learn from fellow believers.
  • Discuss your beliefs with each other and make it a healthy debate. You might differ in the way you praise God, or you might prefer different denominations. You might not feel the same way about forgiveness, and your expectations about the Hereafter might not correlate. God made you in a way that you might not always think about things the same way, maybe religion is one of these things. It is not a train smash. See it as a great challenge to have a debate and to get to know more about one other, even if you cannot convince your partner to see it your way.
  • Make religion part of raising your children. Be in unity when it comes to teaching your kids about religion. Chat with them as a team, and tell them on a practical level what a wonderful job God has done in your lives as a couple. When they are little, include them in Biblical Studies by singing Bible songs to them as babies, while you play with them. When they get older, read to them from the Childrens Bible, or tell them your own version of Bible stories, you can change your voice, (you can be David and your husband can be Goliath for example). When they are teenagers, help them with their peer pressure challenges, and when they are adults, pray for, and with them regularly, for their perfect life partner.

3.    Make physical investments a habit

Physical intimacy is necessary for you to grow closer to each other, and to stay close. However, passion and romance are also important to separate marriage from a normal friendship bond.

Here are a few ways in which you can invest in your marriage on a physical level:

Lessen the centimeters between you. Make a point of it, not to give each other too much personal space! Yes, we all need personal space now and again, but make sure there is not too much of it between you. If you have a choice of sitting on separate couches to watch television, or on a smaller, most uncomfortable couch, choose the smaller couch, so that you can sit or lie with your bodies close against each other. When at a social function, stand next to each other, instead of each in their own corner of the room.

  • Make physical contact whenever you can. There are many opportunities for this. Hold her when she is standing in front of her cupboard, deciding what to wear, kiss him in his neck, while he is brushing his teeth, hold hands in the queue the supermarket. Every person has an inherent desire for human contact. If this does not happen, something called 'skin-hunger' occurs, writes Suzanne Degges-White, a psychologist on Psychology Today. This can often happen to people who live alone, however, this can also easily happen to people who live past each other, like passing ships in the night. This hunger can have serious negative emotional and physical consequences, such as depression, pain and anxiety. Make sure this does not happen to either one of you!
  • Initiate sex – at least once a week. Yes, you might have a healthy sex life, but who is the “driver”, and who is the “passenger”? A healthy sex life is driven by both parties. You both need to take equal amount of initiative, and there are several reasons for this. Every person wants to feel desired. If you wait for hubby to make the first move every time, he might feel that you are only giving in to his desires, and not the one who desires. IE: You don't ever really desire him. To request sex, is also a form of vulnerability seeing as you put yourself in a situation where you could be rejected by the other party. It is sometimes necessary to be vulnerable with each other.

Invest in adventure in your sex life (and your marriage in general).

You also invest in your sex life, when you are constantly looking for something to spice up your bedroom antics. In saying this, we are not suggesting you try out every sex toy on the market ( however, this can sometimes be a good investment in your sex life). We are only warning you not to fall into a boring routine. Mix things up, by jumping back into bed early in the morning, or in the middle of the night, if you are used to having a quickie before bedtime. Change your positions, make your own! Call it 'Johnsons Horizontal Jive” or the “Petersen Pretzel “. Also invest in romance in your marriage. It can form part of your sex life, or outside of the bedroom, leading to a spark in the bedroom. Surprise your partner with your initiative and creativity, and your marital bank balance will receive huge growth.

4.         Make financial investments a habit

Yes, you also need to invest financially in your marriage. This can also help to grow the above mentioned 3 sections in your marriage. However, sometimes you will have to make a choice. Do you grab the opportunity at work to earn more money, or are you going to say no thank you, and invest the time into your partner. The ideal response would be to say that love does not cost money, but let’s be honest: It is important to invest money into your marriage. You need to save for your future, and it is important to be financially stable, to keep your marriage free from unnecessary tension.

Below are a few ways in which you can invest financially in your marriage.

  • Create a budget for Date Night. It must form part of your monthly expenses, like Johnnies tennis lessons, or Janes dance classes. Make sure you have enough room within the budget to try different dates (not pizza and wine on the couch every month – even though there is nothing wrong with this!)
  • Make a point of spoiling your partner with gifts. Yes, most of you would say that this is not necessary, but we all feel valued when we are surprised with a nice bunch of flowers, or tickets to our favourite band.
  • Spend money on knowledge, to strengthen your marriage. When embarking on a new hobby, you would normally spend money on books on said hobby, or you would watch YouTube videos, visit demonstrations and exhibits. The same goes for your marriage. Buy that book that will help you deal with conflict, go to marriage seminars, and marriage camps, spend money on the INTIEM Marriage Capsule 7 week challenge., that promises to be an injection for your marriage. Budget for a weekend getaway, or two per year. Although date night is a wonderful way of staying in touch with each other, a weekend away from the kids and the dogs is very much needed! Go to the bush, the beach, the mountains... Plan to have at least one get-away weekend a year, if you can do two, or even 4 times a year, all the better!
  • Spend that money to make your marriage that much more fun, and easier. Go for that two hour coffee-shop coffee, just so that you can catch up again. Buy that dishwasher, that will give you more time with each other, instead of one of you standing behind the sink, washing dishes. Do the therapy session, that will give you the tools to 'fight better’. These are all good investments in your marriage.
  • Keep the flame burning. Sometimes we need fuel to keep the fire burning. This means you need to spend some money on beautiful underwear, or candles to spread out around the room, or nice smelling massage oils...

5. Make positive thinking an investment

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian Neuro Scientist, that focuses on the differences between the male and female brain, and how the brain learns to think positively, talks about how poisonous thoughts can change into physical, emotional and mental anxiety, that can lead to illness. It can also poison your marriage. Poisonous thoughts include: Unforgivingness (being bitter, resentment, anger, hate and violence), passive aggressive behaviour (to think one thing, but do another, not to say how you feel, to fear conflict), to fear others (to always analyze and be critical of yourself and others) selfhate (to think you are never good enough) guilt feelings (feelings of worthlessness and to habour feelings of embaressment), to utter negative words (like “I can’t...”) According to Caroline, God created a mechanism in our brain that gives us the ability to either accept or reject thoughts. We have the ability to reject negative information and thoughts before it damages our emotions and attitude. There are two groups of emotions: positive, religion-based emotions and negative fear driven emotions. Religion based emotions, such as love, happiness, self control and forgiveness, creates good attitudes and thoughts.

John talks about Positive Sentiment Override (PSO) or the Positive Outlook. This is something couples can work at every day. To have a Positive Outlook of your partner and your relationship, will help you solve your problems easier in conflict situations, and a better attempt to repair the problems, and to see your partner in a more positive light in general.

  • If you have a positive attitude towards your marriage, the battle is halfway won. Don’t complain about your partner around the fire, or on a girls night. Be positive about your marriage. In actual fact, make it a daily habit to have positive interaction with your partner. Say thank you, give compliments, and take the time to mention something that will make your partner feel good.
  • Teach yourself to have a grateful soul in your marriage and your life. Make a point to notice every small gesture from your partner. The morning cup of coffee, the assistance when you are doing dishes, the soft voice in which you partner answers you...
  • Take care with your appearance and make an effort to look good for your partner.

It is very easy to let yourself go in a long standing relationship. It not only has a negative effect on how your partner sees you, but also how you feel about yourself.

  • Invest every day in humor and lightheartedness in your marriage. It not only helps to lighten a difficult situation, it also helps people see other possibilities, says Barbara Fredirickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina and author of Positivity. Positive thinking leads to a 'bigger picture vision', and that leads to peripheral vision and heightened creativity. Positive emotions bring about gratitude, inspiration and inquisitiveness.

And lastly, invest in yourself. Be the optimal you that you can be. You cannot provide fuel for your partner, if your own tank is empty. Stay curios and grow. Chase your dreams and do what you have to do to be truly happy, in order to plough that happiness back into your marriage.

Remember to regularly check your marital bank balance. Everything might look healthy, but with a closer look, you might realize you are deep in the red. The good news is, with a bit of dedication, you can very quickly get yourself out of your negative situation. Follow our tips and see how your marital value grows, and very soon your will be marital billionaires!

Addisionele bronne: www.projecteve.com, www.all4women.co.za, www.focusonthefamily.com, www.msn.com. www.thriveglobal.com

theme

takepart

mci

pressreleases

takepart eng

Take part!

Join us as we stand up for marriages in South Africa. Here are 10 creative tips to celebrate your marriage!

Read more...

verkeer sosiaal 3

Let's get Social!

Make sure that you don't miss out on daily inspiration! 

Read more...

pray

Pray for your Marriage

One of the most intimate things you can do, is to pray for your marriage. Here's some help on what to pray...


Read more...

2015 borge

Sponsors

A massive campaign such as SA Marriage Week would not be successful, without the buy-in of fantastic sponsors.


Read more...

INTIEM Love Bridge

Pretoria got its own love bridge during September 2014. The bridge is already loaded with lots of symbolic locks... and you can still add your own lock to the bridge!

A lock is a symbol of eternity, safety, protection... and what better way to let someone know that you "lock" your love to him/her with an engraved lock on a love bridge?

Love Bridge is FREE and open to the public in Magnolia Dell in the heart of Pretoria. Enjoy a cappuccino at Huckleberry’s and put your lock on the bridge.

lovebridge